By Dumi Xaba

I must admit, the first time I saw the Hyundai Staria I thought it was a Botswana or Nigerian rendering as we never get treated to such beauties in Mzansi.
This offering is one of a kind and honestly you will struggle to compare it to anything in the market. It looks like a cross between the Citroen Spacetourer, the Toyota Pro Ace and some futuristic EV.
Gone are days when MPVs were used by hotel shuttle companies or large families when they go on holidays. For the past decade, renderings like the Mercedes V class and the VW Caravelle have made the MPVs user-friendly for daily commuting.
Easy to park at shopping malls, they have honestly been rehabilitated to spend less time next to the gas stations.
However, when talking about this duo, you should be ready to fork out between R1,3 million and R2,3 million – with instalments as high as R45,000 per month.
The Staria has come to the rescue. The H1 has gone a long way, and just as it was beginning to be a hit, it has been replaced by the Staria. Is it as good as its predecessor, or better?
There are three trim levels: Executive, Elite and the top-of-the-range Luxury, which Hyundai was generous to offer me.
The styling is futuristic but maybe some conservative customers might not be pleased with such a bold leap forward. This is not a panel-van wannabe like its predecessor. It is a bold fashion statement.
As I approached it from the front, I was greeted by the snub nose with bronze finishes and EV-type LED headlamps fused together. LED is only on the Luxury model.
Just above are horizontally running day lights that give this vehicle an EV type of look – neat and clean flowing lines on the side.
With its taller rear LED lights you do not confuse this beauty for anything on the road come day or night.
Press the button and the powered sliding doors opens up to reveal those luxury airplane-like individual seats.
Three sets of side-by-side seats and a bench at the rear.
There are USB charging ports for all your passengers as well as cup holders.
There is enough boot space for bikes or those huge holiday suitcases. This is, by no means, a mini-family mover, like some SUVs.
It is a proper full 9-seater.
At 5.2 metres, it is really a beast of a machine. The cockpit is cleverly placed on top of the dashboard to keep your eyes on the road at all times.
Like in the Palisade, Hyundai has done away with the gear leaver, replacing it with a switch-like transmission. Depress the brake pedal and press that START button and the 2.2-litre famous Hyundai oil burner comes alive. So is your cockpit and infotainment.
I must admit, as the price of everything goes up, I was quite impressed by the level of trim compared to other manufactures like VW and Mercedes. This is at around a R800K for the entry level.
You can’t ignore this rendering as value for money. I am not sure if most customers will be happy with the shape though. It might be too futuristic and bold for some, but it turned heads everywhere I went, even on the busy freeways.
The engine and the gearbox are brilliantly matched. Overtaking and freeway cruising are a breeze for this machine. You forget that you are in a large vehicle. It pulls easily and the steering is responsive. Not too soft and neither too hard.
As you indicate to turn, the camera gives you a view of the side you are intending to turn to, making it impossible to scratch those luxury rims. Reverse cameras also make it easy to navigate this behemoth.
The windows are huge and the sitting position is high. Nothing obscures your view, even on city driving. I honestly didn’t even feel like I was driving a minibus. Please note, you will need a PDP for the 11-seater.

What do you get for R1,1m?
Electric windows, power sliding doors, full leather interior, air-conditioning, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity post for all seat rows, cup-holders, electric folding mirrors, multi-functional steering wheel, remote function with keyless entry, keyless Start, a Bose sound system and a whole lot more.
Hyundai Staria 2.2D Luxury trim base price R 1,104,000

Engine 2.2 i4 diesel
Gearbox 8 speed automatic gearbox
Power 130kw
Torque 430Nm
0 to 100 12.4s
Top speed 185KMS

All this comes with a seven-year 200,000km warranty and a 105,000 service plan.

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