Panel vans with a second row of seats plus a load area behind them are becoming increasingly popular. For your money you get a practical cargo shifter with the ability to transport five or six people in relative comfort plus enough space to carry at least some of the tools they may need.
If you’re self-employed then the vehicle can double as family transport at the weekends. You can get rid of your car and save yourself a shed load of cash. If you’re going to use it as a car, however, then you may want a bit more power and a few more goodies. That’s something Hyundai has recognised with the introduction of a 168hp version of its six-seater rear-wheel drive iLoad Crew Van.
Available to special order, it employs the 2.5-litre CRDi common rail diesel fitted to the i800 people-carrier, with top power kicking in at 3,800rpm. Maximum torque of 392Nm makes its presence felt across a 2,000rpm-to-2,500rpm plateau and the diesel is married to a five-speed manual gearbox. The standard iLoad van and Crew Van both employ the 114bhp version of the same engine.
Opting for 168 horses under the bonnet gets you more kit as standard than is to be found on the ordinary Crew Van. The package includes Electronic Stability Programme and 16in alloy wheels — shod in our case with Hankook RA08 215/70 R16C tyres — which are extra-cost options on the less-powerful models in the range. They help justify the £1,000 premium you pay to acquire their beefier stable-mate. ABS is fitted on all iLoads along with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.
A sliding door on each side of the body provides access to Crew Van’s rear passenger compartment, with twin rear doors providing access to the 2.5m3 cargo bay. A full-height, glazed, steel bulkhead separates it from the back seats. Gross payload is 1,059kg, gross weight is 3,230kg and you can tow a braked trailer grossing at 2,300kg.
Describing the handsome-looking Crew Van as a six-seater is something of a misnomer given that the front row’s middle seat is of limited practical use. Fitted with a lap strap rather than a lap-and-diagonal belt, and without a headrest, it’s narrow and offers too little legroom. In our view it’s unsuitable even for short local trips. Its sole saving grace is the way in which the back flips down and becomes a handy table complete with a pair of cup-holders.
Other handy standard in-cab features include air conditioning — good to see it as part of the package — dual front airbags, front electric windows, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and steering wheel and an MP3-compatible radio/CD player. You get electric mirrors too, and there’s plenty of in-cab storage space.
Like his counterpart in the front, the rear centre passenger is restrained solely by a lap strap and the absence of a headrest means that he risks smacking the back of his head on the bulkhead if the driver has to brake heavily. Legroom for all three rear occupants is reasonable, but not outstanding.
On the positive side, there’s no lack of performance. Floor the accelerator pedal and you’re rewarded with a firm shove between the shoulder blades as Crew Van surges forwards.
Noise levels are fairly well suppressed and a user-friendly gearbox makes it easy to get the best out of the engine. That said, there were times when we yearned for a sixth gear when we were on dual carriageways and motorways.
Unfortunately the ride can be ragged at times and the handling is imprecise. Push the Hyundai hard through a bend and you’ll struggle to maintain the line you’re trying to follow.
Fuel consumption for the test period averaged out at 32mpg.
Our £16,595 demonstrator came with optional reversing sensors for £113, an alarm with selective remote central locking for £148 and metallic paint for £340. All prices quoted here exclude VAT.
Service intervals are set at 12,500 miles and the well-put-together Crew Van comes with a praiseworthy five-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Not a bad package at all from Hyundai, the more powerful version of the good-looking and well-built iLoad Crew Van offers a handy combination of performance and practicality. It is let down by its ride and handling, but these limitations have to be balanced against a good standard of equipment plus an ability to transport 6 people — if you can live with the shortcomings of one or two of the seats — and a pile of kit. Worth a look.