“Can it fly?” was the first thing my seven-year-old daughter asked me after seeing the Hyundai Staria for the first time.
The truth is, air travel is probably the one thing this space-aged van can’t do. Well, at least not yet.
The Korean car manufacturer rolled out the Staria at the end of the year as a replacement for the H-1. The new van is not only offered as a no-nonsense people mover like its predecessor, but is also an excellent option poised to topple the apple cart on the premium side of the market.
Its futuristic appearance, immediately recognizable by the “RoboCop” LED strip headlight that spans the width of the front, sets the Staria apart from anything else you find on our roads.
Hyundai Staria in their eyes
Judging by the attention we recently drew in the Hyundai Staria in the flagship 2.2D Luxury nine-seat, upholstered in Moonlight Blue Pearl, we are convinced that the Korean carmaker had the right looks.
Aside from admirers stopping by every time we parked, it even confused the authorities at a police roadblock. We were ordered to get off the road just so the officers could investigate the interior!
A few admirers even asked if it was electrically powered, considering its futuristic appearance. They were almost incredulous to learn that this ship relies on old school diesel power.
Its 2.2-liter turbo diesel engine is a tried and trusted mill in the Hyundai stable that also serves in the Santa Fe and Palisade SUVs, albeit in different states of tuning.
In the van, it produces 130 kW of power and 430 Nm of torque. Unlike the H-1, which was driven on the rear wheels, the power of the Staria is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The van’s power delivery is super smooth and the gearbox as smooth and unobtrusive as you could wish for.
Even though the Hyundai Staria at 2,285 kg is perhaps more than 300 kg heavier than the Palisade and more than 400 kg heavier than the Santa Fe, there is enough urgency. In fact, kick the throttle off the line and there’s a healthy amount of wheelspin which is rather odd for such a classy ride.
Three driving modes are available in Eco, Normal and Sport. We mostly kept it in Normal, using Sport in short bursts for that extra bit of urgency when overtaking on the highway. These were conducted without any back chat from the power station.
Good fuel economy
Although we made no attempt to save fuel, we managed to reduce fuel consumption by 11 l/100 km over a distance of 611 km, the majority of which was in city traffic.
This number is quite acceptable given the Hyundai Staria’s dimensions and weight, passenger and payload capacity. It also means that the van can cover almost 700 km on its 75-litre tank in everyday city life.
If I set foot on a starship in my lifetime, I won’t be disappointed if the interior matches that of the Staria. Our test unit was upholstered in gray nappa leather that worked very well with all of the selectable ambient light colors.
Unlike conventional instrument clusters that you look at through the steering wheel, the Staria follows the Peugeot i-Cockpit concept.
The twin-dial cluster is located higher and deeper in the dash, allowing the driver to look at it over the steering wheel with the line of sight closer to the road. This also eliminates the need for Heads-Up display projected onto the windshield.
Like the Palisade, the Hyundai Staria also lacks a gear selector lever, with the transmission being controlled by four push buttons. Much to the amusement of the prancing officers.
As a flagship model, the Luxury has no shortage of comfort. Standard are infotainment system with Bose sound system, surround view monitor, double sunroof, adaptive cruise control, power sliding doors, power tailgate.
The front row benefits from electrically heated and ventilated seats, wireless charging and a large cargo box in the center console.
The second and third rows feature two captain’s seats, the second row of which is heated and ventilated and can be rotated 180 degrees to view the third row. Ventilation, USB ports and cup holders abound in the second, third and fourth rows, which consist of a three-seater sofa.
All three rear rows can be shifted and folded to allow for a configuration to suit passenger or luggage requirements.
A host of safety specifications include driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, blind spot collision avoidance assistance, lane departure assist and rear collision avoidance assistance.
While conventional wisdom might dispute the thought of a Hyundai costing a whopping R1 099 900, the Hyundai Staria Luxury is in fact great value for money.
This van not only looks good but also offers all round comfort and great versatile space, accentuated by the double sunroofs and large windows.
Bringing the game to the V-Class and Caravelle
If buyers can look past their brand snobbery, they’ll also be amazed at how much the standard specification offers over much more expensive rivals in the VW Caravelle and Mercedes-Benz V-Class.
Even if it can’t fly, the Hyundai Staria is definitely ready to take off.
For more information on the Hyundai Staria, click here†