What is it?
The new eight-seat Hyundai i800. Those people who need big MPVs rarely care much about the mechanical niceties of their purchase. They’re much more preoccupied with coping with the continual problem of having to leave half the family at home on journeys, or else take two cars.
Their other challenge, usually, is feeding all the mouths when they reach a destination. Which makes them experts, more than anything else, on a car’s accommodation and price, so it’s here that the i800 needs to shine.
What’s it like?
For these buyers, Hyundai’s new i800 looks a winner. First it’s an eight-seater, which gives it a clear advantage over most MPVs, which have only seven.
Second, it has a vast boot even when fully loaded with people, where other people-carriers have small ones. Third, it’s cheap: the high-spec Style model we tried comes packed with gadgets like alloys, air-con, privacy glass, a trip computer, parking sensors and heated seats, yet it costs less than competition such as the VW Caravelle.
The Style also benefits from a hugely torquey 168bhp 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel (driven through a tall-geared five-speed gearbox) that gives truly surprising acceleration and 100mph performance.
Those who don’t need all the power and gadgets will be able to choose the cheaper Comfort model with 130bhp and less equipment. The Style is available in June; the Comfort in November.
On the road, the i800 feels very big and tall, courtesy of a 5.1-metre overall length and roots in Hyundai’s tough but somewhat unsophisticated H-1 van range. But its special coil-sprung rear end gives quite a decent ride, and the interior (though lined with hard plastic) is comfortable. Plus, kids will love the panoramic view.
With the biggest diesel, the i800 Style is more powerful than it needs to be, but fun with it. Its decent steering precision, ride and brakes also make it easy to drive, even in traffic.
Should I buy one?
If you’re one of the buyers looking for accommodation and price above all else, then yes. The i800 is nothing if not spacious, practical and affordable. Big families and bank managers are going to love it.