Road Review – Hyundai H1 Bus

Many, many years ago in my relative infancy as a motoring scribe a colleague and I – perhaps after a longer than normal lunch – conspired to come up with what we fondly imagined was a shriekingly funny headline for a story; ‘Forget about us, we’re on the bus’.

It wasn’t, it isn’t and yet, in that rather bizarre way in which this world of our operates, it is aptly descriptive of the time spent with the new look Hyundai H1 Bus.

It took no time at all behind the wheel to forget I was driving a bus and to start treating it like a car, albeit one with rather enhanced forward vision – the big reminder always the step up to get into the vehicle.

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There is both good and bad in that – the good being as a people mover, the ease of driving makes light work of the fact it is a big vehicle and the bad; well, it really is not designed to be ‘Vetteled’ at speed like a race car on twisty roads.

Not that it actually minds, coming fully equipped with anti-lock braking and a stability control system to temper over enthusiasm back to more reasonable limits.

The new look for the H1 Bus is dominated by redesigned nose section, giving the 9-seater bus (and its panel van sibling) a modern look that fits in with the styling of the passenger car and SUV range of the Korean manufacturer.

New 17-inch alloy wheels are added to the 2,5-litre turbo-diesel derivative on test, while the addition of an infotainment centre with a large touch-screen enhances the list of interior luxury and comfort features in both 9-seater derivatives.

A steering wheel that can now adjust for reach as well as height makes the driving position in the H1 even more comfortable and a rear camera as parking assistance, with display in the rear-view mirror, is a luxury feature in the 2.5 Turbodiesel Bus – and is extremely useful for shuttling around tight spaces considering it is 5,1 metres long!

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Night driving is now improved with the addition of projection-style headlights that illuminate the road ahead and to the side more effectively.

Other standard features include Bluetooth connectivity for the infotainment’s sound system with multifunction controls on the steering wheel, cruise control, full automatic air-conditioner with climate control, glove box cooling, side air bags and power folding mirrors.

The 2 497 cc turbo-charged diesel engine delivers 125 kW maximum power at 3 600 r/min and 441 Nm maximum torque at 2 250 r/min driving the rear wheels through a 5-speed automatic gearbox.

Those values are more than enough to negate any noticeable losses when the vehicle is fully laden with adult passengers and the benefit of the turbo at higher altitudes will also minimise any power losses.

It is no slouch and more than happy to ‘get-up-and-go’ when the loud pedal is pressed. In normal driving both in town and on the open road the gearbox is smooth and efficient in adapting to driver input and changing conditions – enough that most will not need to switch it into the sportier manual mode.

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Rack and pinion steering ensures crisp responses while hydraulic assistance reduces the effort required in tight situations. The H1 Bus is easy to park and along with the generous glass area and substantial mirrors, there is the park-assist rear-view camera.

The H1 series is equipped with McPherson type strut with gas shock absorbers for its front suspension and for the H1 9-seater Bus a rigid axle 5-link rear suspension with oil-filled shock absorbers ensures a comfortable ride.

Pricing includes Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty, with an additional 2 years/50 000 km manufacturer’s powertrain warranty, as well as a 5 year/150 000 km roadside assistance plan and 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

So, forget about us, we’re on the bus!

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