When the all-new Hyundai Staria was revealed as the official replacement of the H-1, many an automotive enthusiast were blown away by its futuristic styling and conclusive list of features. What had once been a straight-forward commercial van has now evolved into a product that every family could consider for their driveway.
In fact, the Hyundai Staria’s design offers even more than that. Its divisive for certain, but this cyberpunk tribute hasn’t been penned for those who want something as glitzy as the Mercedes-Benz V-Class or family friendly as the Volkswagen Caravelle. The brief for the Staria was to be distinctive. At he front, we find a Robocop-like face with the key features being the svelte LED headlamp bar and wide grille opening.
At the rear, the futuristic theme continues with a large pair of taillamps that look fairly simple at a quick glance but, stare at it long enough and you’ll notice the intricate collage of squares that creates a stunning 3D effect. A flair of athleticism is provided by the spoiler-esque finish affixed to the rear of the roof which is contrasted by the clean and simple tailgate and bumper. At the sides, design is kept simple as well with a large set of windows, slightly flared wheel arches and bold door handles and mirrors. The futuristic set of alloy wheels breaks the traditional silhouette.
From within the cabin of the Hyundai Staria, the occasion continues with a cockpit that tastefully blends modern technology with accommodating comfort and general practicality. For the driver, an electrically adjustable seat, abstract multifunction steering wheel and simple customisable digital instrument cluster comes as rather welcoming, considering you are stepping into a van. It’s an experience that is not too overwhelming and certainly intrigues the senses. To the left, you’ll find a conclusive infotainment system with satellite navigation atop a series of chunky buttons for the climate control and gear selectors.
Being a van, storage compartments are in no shortage with a cabin provided afore the driver, behind the infotainment and the usual glove compartment box. A smartphone tray with a wireless charger and additional banks along the doors and roof means that there will be no shortage of places for driver and passenger alike to store their valuables.
In the second and third row of seats there is less of an occasion as things have been kept rather simple in terms of design but space and comfort are provide by a set of generous leather-wrapped seats and air vents connected to an individual climate control system. USB ports are scattered throughout the rear for added convenience.
From within the cabin of the Hyundai Staria at the dead of night, one gets the impression being in a spaceship, just as the exterior design hints. The minimalist displays and ambient lighting all but softens blow of the darkness that surrounds you via large windows placed at each end of the cabin. It creates an odd feeling of being exposed but at the same time stimulates the excitement of exploration.
Where the driving experience is concerned, the Hyundai Staria has taken a quantum leap over the H-1 that it replaces. The main reason for this is that does away with the old rear-wheel drive commercial platform and adopts the South Korean group’s N3 platform as used on the Santa Fe and Tucson. Thanks to this, the space bus can now accommodate the firm’s refined 2,2-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder mill which transfers power to the front wheels via an eight-speed torque converter.
The application of this oil-burner to the Hyundai Staria means the futuristic people mover translates a smooth delivery of power to the front wheels thanks to a refined transmission. As to be expected, turbo-lag is an issue in the lower rev range but once you enter the 1 500 r/min torque band, access to the 430 N.m enhances confidence in extra-urban and open road settings.
The modern powertrain coupled with the accomplished platform means that the Hyundai Staria is able to carry its lofty body about through various driving environments without requiring too much skill from the driver. Large door mirrors supported by an array of standard safety features such as adaptive cruise control as well as blind-spot and lane keep assist means that the strain spatial awareness is lifted from the driver as well.
Thanks to a strong mid-range from the oil-burner, the Hyundai Staria also holds its own on the open road, even when carrying a load of video and photography equipment as it acted as our official support car for the January 2022 performance shootout. Owing to a generous amount of damping on the suspension, comfort of the chassis was not compromised when fully loaded, so much so that our photography crew were afforded a long and well deserved rest as soon as we hit the N2 back to Cape Town.
With the aforementioned torque figure, the Hyundai Staria shows impressive capabilities when merging highways and overtaking slower cars are required, making it a more than ideal long-distance traveller for the more adventurous families.
Usually when it comes to finding faults and criticisms with new products, it doesn’t take me long to find the weaknesses of almost any product. The most premium and luxurious of cars always have a slight niggle here and there while your general budget offerings often lose points of rectitude by saving costs via shaving key safety features. With the Hyundai Staria however, no matter how hard I tried to look for the cracks, it just didn’t skip a beat.
The futuristic van offers everything. For starters, the distinctive exterior design means that heads will turn no matter what your destination. The cabin experience perfectly blends comfort with modernity while not overwhelming the occupants with too many controls or features. Lastly, the engine and chassis dynamics are more than accommodating to the less accomplished drivers thanks to a fluid drivetrain and plush yet composed chassis. Couple this in with a comprehensive warranty and service plan and I may just have to admit that the South Korean brand could have actually created a product that ticks all the boxes you’ll ever need.
Model: Hyundai Staria 2,2D Elite nine-seater AT
Price: R959 900
Engine: 2,2-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
Power: 130 kW @3 800 r/min
Torque: 430 N.m @ 1 500 – 2 500 r/min
0-100 km/h: 12,4 seconds
Top speed: 185 km/h
Fuel consomption: 8,7 L/100 km
CO2: 189 g/km
Service plan: Six-year/90 000 km