Certainly the new Hyundai Staria MPV is the most futuristic looking design gracing local roads but, a close look back at the H1 (which it replaces) will reveal hints of the design direction the Korean automaker was heading in, and now nails.
Whatever you might think of the look, the refreshing part is realising there are still designers prepared to be imaginative – and, with this, the Hyundai notion of building a vehicle ‘inside out’ makes a lot of sense.
This design philosophy starts with shaping and plotting the interior and then adding the ‘covering’ – the result the Staria that is available immediately in a 9-seat configuration but will eventually encompass the entire range from two to 11 seats and in panel van and multi-cab formats.
The Staria is initially launched in South Africa with three variants – the Luxury, Elite and Executive, with various seating configurations, features and trim levels.
“We are thrilled to introduce the Staria, which is a big step forward and represents Hyundai’s vision of future mobility – it gives real meaning to ‘next level’. Experiencing the superior ride quality, outstanding fit and finish and the comfort levels in the Staria proves how much Hyundai has developed as a global vehicle manufacturer and one of the top-rated automotive brands,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.
The exterior styling, according Hyundai, is defined by a single stroke running from front to rear — inspired by the curve of light that illuminates the Earth’s horizon at sunrise when viewed from space.
The Staria’s front has horizontal daytime running lights (DRLs) and a positioning lamp, together running across the width of the vehicle, complemented by a wide radiator grille with a unique pattern.
The Staria Luxury model features an exclusive tinted brass chrome treatment, applied to the Hyundai emblem, grille, headlamp bezels, front and rear bumpers, wheels, side mirrors and door handles to emphasize the vehicle’s premium and modern look.
The design theme carries over to the rear, featuring a wide window framed by elongated vertical tail lamps, with the Staria Luxury models receiving Hyundai’s Parametric Pixel lamp design and garnish on top. The rear bumper is lowered so passengers can easily load and unload cargo.
The Staria is driven through its front wheels by a 2,2-litre VGT turbo-diesel engine, mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It delivers 130 kW maximum power, and its torque output peaks at 430 Nm.
Hyundai Motor optimised the engine and transmission to achieve low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels and a better shift sensation for high torque performance and improved acceleration. It also optimised the direct valve control body for increased hydraulic efficiency, the oil pump for fuel efficiency, and the gearbox’s multi-plate torque converter for control and fuel efficiency.
Mechanical upgrades also resulted in improved ride comfort thanks to the application of a multi-link suspension at the rear axle for the Luxury, Elite and Executive derivatives. The Staria Panel Van will use a rigid rear axle with leaf springs.
Looks and an engine with some decent grunt are one thing – does it match up on the road?
The launch run in KwaZulu-Natal was done in wet and soggy conditions and not ideal for pushing any limits but, the tourer in both Executive and Luxury trim levels was immediately impressive because of how quiet it was on the road and the massively improved ride comfort compared to outgoing H1.
Engine and gearbox are responsive and stopping performance – of which there was quite a lot considering how badly South African generally drive in the rain – impressive.
According to Hyundai, the Staria interior applies a simple and modest layout to highlight the driver’s convenience and passengers’ comfort, while staying faithful to its original value as an MPV.
“The cruise ship-inspired interior delivers an open and unique atmosphere through its innovative design architecture. The vehicle’s lower beltlines and panoramic windows create a spacious, stimulating environment for all passengers.”
Let’s just say the driving position and seating comfort in both trim levels was easily adapted to suit my (lack of) size and reach – enough that it would have been to embark on a long-haul run knowing arrival at the other end would be without any discomfort or lower back or the like.
Up fron is an 8-inch front display screen, touch-based centre fascia and a button-type electronic shift lever for the Luxury and Elite versions. The digital cluster is located on top of the dashboard, providing an unobstructed view for the driver.
Storage space is available on top of the overhead console in the Elite and Executive versions, bottom of the cluster, and top and bottom of the centre fascia. Both driver and passengers also have access to a centre console equipped with cup holders, USB ports and additional storage space for the Luxury derivative. The Elite and Executive versions have a middle seat in front, of which the seat back can tilt flat forward to provide cup holders and storage space for odds and ends.
The Staria Luxury offers a variety of additional interior features that will transform the passenger’s mobility experience. The 7-seat Premium model is equipped with Premium Relaxation Seats in the second row that recline electronically and have sliding capabilities for easy reach or to maximize cargo space.
The 9-seat Luxury model’s individual seats in the second row can swivel 180 degrees to face passengers in the third row. This makes the Staria Luxury ideal for corporate vehicles or mobile offices as passengers can turn their seats around and conduct meetings face to face. Families will also find these swivelling seats convenient as rear-facing passengers will have easy access to those seated in the third row. The premium feeling in the Luxury version is further enhanced by the Bose sound system.
Additionally, the Staria’s generous legroom is among the best in its segment and can be converted into expansive additional cargo space when all seats are pushed together — made possible by the long sliding seat function. Moreover, the full-flat mode applied to rear passenger seats of the Staria standard model makes this vehicle the perfect choice for activities that require a lot of room and interior flexibility, such as camping and sports where luggage space is needed for equipment.
The Staria has a 3 273 mm wheelbase with an overall length of 5 253 mm and width of 1 997 mm. Its overall height of 1 990 mm is useful for passengers to conveniently enter and exit the vehicle and is high enough for an average school-aged child to stand upright and move with ease.
“The Staria is not just reinterpreting spatiality, but also reimagining time spent in transit for the future. Designing for mobility isn’t about vehicle design. It’s about designing to accommodate a variety of lifestyles,” says SangYup Lee, senior vice president and head of Global Hyundai Design. “The Staria’s interior space and functionalities aim to transform how people experience in-car travel, optimizing journeys by making the most of time in transit.”
It offers six crash bags and all seats come with three-point seat belts and headrests. Safety is further bolstered by smart features such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) and Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA) in the top derivatives.
Additions in the Elite and Luxury versions include Safe Exit Assist (SEA) which prevents the door from opening in a situation where a passenger attempts to open the power sliding door while a rear-side vehicle is passing by, and Rear Occupant Alert (ROA), which uses a radar sensor to detect and alert the driver if a rear passenger is left in the car after exiting the vehicle.
A most useful item in Luxury derivative shows an image in the 10,2-inch Supervision instrument cluster in front of the driver, replacing either the rev counter (for right turn) or speedometer (left turn) momentarily with a real-time rear-view image.
Hyundai’s smart infotainment system with an 8-inch touch-screen display is fitted to all derivatives and is equipped with a wide-angle camera rear park assist camera, aided by park warning sensors in both front and rear bumpers. In the Luxury version the screen also displays a bird’s eye view of the car and its surroundings when reversing the Staria.
The Hyundai Staria range at its launch in South Africa, with its suggested retail prices, consists of:
Staria R2.2 Executive 9-seater R 789 900
Staria R2.2 Executive 11-seater R 799 900
Staria R2.2 Elite 9-seater R 959 900
Staria R2.2 Luxury 9-seater R 1099 900
A 7-year/200 000 km manufacturer warranty and roadside assistance for 7-years or 150 000 km are included in the price for all derivatives. The Luxury version also comes standard with 7-year/105 000 km service plan included in the retail price, while the Elite and Executive have a 6-year/90 000 km service plan.