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Hyundai i800 (08 on)

Rafay Ansar

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It may be based on a panel van, but the Hyundai i800 defies its commercial vehicle roots by being a refined and hugely practical people carrier that is surprisingly good to drive. The boxy shape isn't stylish but it does mean that interior space is cavernous and the Hyundai can easily carry eight adults in comfort plus there's an enormous boot too. Thanks to the strong diesel engine and a car-like driving position it's good on the move while a comfortable ride and low noise levels make it a great long distance family car. There are a few squeaks and rattles, especially on bumpy roads while the fact that it's more than five metres long can make it awkward to park but generous equipment levels and a well built interior make up for this. Alternatives such as the Volkswagen Transporter/Caravelle and Mercedes Viano may have a more upmarket image but neither can compete with the i800 in terms of value for money.

Performance





One engine is available in the i800 - a 2.5-litre CRDi diesel which delivers 170bhp, but more importantly, plenty of low down pulling power. It's a fairly refined unit which remains smooth, even when pushed hard and a 0-62mph time of 14.5 seconds is impressive for such a large vehicle that weighs more than two tonnes. It's the in-gear pace which really stands out though and makes the i800 surprisingly swift on the motorway or when it comes to overtaking. Economy isn't bad either with an average figure of 33mpg while the five-speed manual gearbox offers positive changes


Fact & figures - full performance data


Handling



It may look like a large, boxy people carrier but the i800 certainly doesn't handle like when. The well-weighted steering is responsive and the Hyundai turns neatly into corners with body roll kept well in check, plus there's good grip too. It's certainly more car-like to drive than you'd imagine and feels surprisingly agile from behind the wheel. It can happily tackle twisting roads, although it's more at home on long distance cruises where the excellent ride soaks up bumps and potholes, even with a full load of passengers on board. With an overall length of more than five metres it can feel a little daunting in town while a width of almost two metres can make squeezing through gaps difficult. However it has a decent turning circle and the standard fit rear parking sensors make manoeuvring into spaces a little easier.

Comfort



Thanks to a new suspension set-up the i800 rides very well so it's extremely smooth, particularly on the motorway. On top of this all the seats are comfortable, even those in the third row and there's plenty of legroom too - the middle row of chairs can be slid forward to boost knee space for those behind if needed plus both rear rows get independent ventilation and lighting controls too. Getting in and out couldn't be easier thanks to the huge side doors - not only are they light and easy to slide, but they open wide to make access straightforward for both rows of seats.



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Practicality





The i800 carries eight passengers in comfort and its huge boot can swallow their luggage too. It boasts an enormous 851 litres and that's without having to remove or fold down the rear seats. Access is made easy by the large tailgate - although in tight spaces or multi-storey car parks this can be awkward to open. The rear seats aren't as clever or as versatile as those in the Chrysler Grand Voyager but both rows split and fold 60/40 and recline, while the centre seats can be slid forwards and back. Storage is adequate but the Hyundai could do with more cubbyholes and bins in the back while upfront it's a surprise that there's no central stowage bin between the two seats.

Behind the wheel





There's certainly no hint of the i800's commercial vehicle background from behind the wheel. Although the steering column doesn't adjust for reach, that matters little as it is easy to get a good driving position and it feels more car than people carrier. Build quality is excellent and most of the materials have an upmarket, tactile feel to them. Some of the less obvious plastics appear a little cheap but the clear dials, leather steering wheel and neat central controls make up for this. There's also plenty of room, so like the rest of the cabin it feels spacious and comfortable while the view out is excellent thanks to the large windscreen.

Safety

The i800 comes with driver and front passenger airbags and three-point seatbelts for all eight passengers as standard, but there are no side or curtain airbags for rear passengers. However the rear sliding doors are fitted with child locks and the middle row of seats has Isofix child seat mountings.

Reliability

Like other Hyundai models, the i800 is covered by a five-year warranty that is not subject to mileage restrictions. The 2.5-litre diesel engine is shared with the H1 panel van so should be reliable and durable.

Buying new



Compared to similar sized people carriers, such as the Volkswagen Caravelle, the i800 is great value. Still it's unlikely that you'll ever pay list price for a new example so it's worth haggling for a decent discount. It comes well equipped but there are a few options available including leather seats, metallic paint and a tow bar and it's worth getting one or two of these included in the price.

Buying used

If you're after a well equipped eight-seat people mover, then few cars can rival the value for money the big Hyundai offers. Go for extras such as leather seats which give the cabin an upmarket feel, but watch out for any examples that have been used as private hire vehicles - they're likely to have been fairly abused.
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Selling

The biggest challenge you'll have when it comes to selling an i800 is a lack of awareness - the Hyundai isn't as readily recognised as other similar sized vehicles such as the Mercedes Viano. It's better value though and comes well equipped - these are key selling points in attracting buyers.
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