2015 Hyundai i800 2.5 CRDi 135PS Style Manual review – A Rather Good 8-Seat People Transporter

Hyundai i800 / H-1 / Starex / iMax

The second-generation Hyundai i800 or H-1/Starex/iMax as it’s known in other countries around the world, has been available since 2007. Sold globally, this popular people-mover will be found in some tough climates, proving its worth as a robust, reliable vehicle worthy of tackling – and surviving – even inhospitable regions.

With a holiday planned, and an i800 full of people and luggage, how does it drive and – more importantly – what is it like from a passenger’s point of view? We were sent the 2.5 CRDi 135PS 6-speed manual version to find out…

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

Hyundai i800 front three quarter view

 

There’s only a certain amount with the exterior design of a van-come-people carrier, and none can really be called ‘cool’, save perhaps for the new-shape Volkswagen Caravelle. Stand-out features of the i800 include the swage lines that sit above the front and rear wheel arches, which give them a flared appearance, bulking the box-shape up and making for a more interesting side profile over the usual flat-sided panels.

The front lights are oversized – massive, in fact – compared with the type found on a car, but they break up the huge front end well, and they’re actually in proportion to the rest of the i800 anyway. The 16″ alloy wheels do rather have the appearance of sofa castors under the Hyundai’s large arches, but as I’ll talk more about later, the large tyre walls give off very little road noise, and the ride comfort is very good. The design of these is actually decent, and I’d rather compensate with the wheel size over having larger ones which create more noise and a firmer ride.

Hyundai i800 3 row 8 seater people carrier

The i800 comes in one spec only, SE, and as standard all windows from the B pillar back have a limo-dark tint, which is great for keeping passengers cool and giving them some privacy, but it also means Hyundai doesn’t look like a goldfish bowl, as people carriers without tint do. Overall though, the Hyundai i800 isn’t a bad looker really, and it did actually grow on me over the week I had it.

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A bit of advice, if I may. While colour choice is usually an individual thing, in the case of the i800 I believe the only one you should go for is silver – a £610 option. White looks cheap, and so does black, which looks terrible as soon as the bodywork even gets slightly dirty. Silver is easy to maintain, always looks good, and doesn’t easily show water runs after it’s been washed. Especially good if you happen to use the i800 as a taxi.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Hyundai i800 driver seat dashboard

The i800 isn’t simply a converted van with seating for eight and a big boot, but actually a very comfortable, well-executed people carrier. While the majority of interior trim is plasticky, it doesn’t feel cheap or sub-standard, and it’s certainly all well screwed down as nothing rattles.

The are large sections of silver trim to help break up the monotony of having swathes of grey and black all pushed together, and Hyundai’s designers have put a good deal of thought into the cabin. For example, the driver’s door has too door pockets: one sizeable lower one for stowing big items, and one higher up which is easy to reach and is large enough to holds drinks bottles and snacks.

Some else that’s been thought through is that when driving (or a front passenger), your arm sits at the perfect height on a well-placed, comfortable section of the door.

Hyundai i800 front seats

 

The front seats are actually very comfortable, regardless of the fact they don’t have adjustable lumbar support. As a driver, you get a heated seat and it’s also a commanding seating position, while the passenger has the benefit of sitting high up and being able to get a better view of the scenery by seeing over walls and bushes down country lanes.

The control buttons and dials on the centre console are big chunky ones, clearly marked and laid out in straightforward manner – a boring fact, yes, but when you’re transporting seven passengers, minimal distraction is absolutely welcome, and the last thing you want is an over-complex layout consisting of tiny buttons.

Hyundai i800 stereo and climate controls

While the dash isn’t the most exciting design, it suits the i800 fine, as does the instrument cluster which is simple and uncluttered. There’s not loads of gadgets and tech included, but they included steering wheel-mounted controls for the volume and stereo mode, electric front windows and side mirrors, plus a auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Ingress and egress is super-easy, with a sliding door each side, and a simple system for folding and sliding the middle-row seating forward, to allow passenger in and out of the rear row.

Hyundai i800 middle seats

Hyundai i800 middle seats reclining

Passengers in the rear of the i800 benefit from their own heating and cooling, which can be controlled via a control panel in the headlining. If you’ve got kids and don’t want them messing with it, you can actually take over it from the front – very handy.

Head, elbow and shoulder room is remarkable in the i800 – very important to making it feel non-claustrophobic when fully laden. As well as this though, suitable ventilation is essential in a vehicle that can carry eight people, and the i800’s is particularly good. As well as the rear passengers being able to control temperature and airflow, there are big, point-able vents mounted in the ceiling, and with the ice-cold air conditioning turned on the trip can be enjoyed as it was meant to.

Air vents Hyundai i800

On that, a 4-hour trip on a hot summer’s day saw my six other passengers very happy with the ventilation system, and those in the very rear also get hinged windows, which they said made a lot of difference. Those in the middle seats get sliding glass panels, which are an ingenious idea and again, make a lot of difference to the overall comfort on a hot day.

Hyundai have even given the two rows their own ceiling-mounted multi-choice coloured LED mood lighting, you can choose from six colours as well as the standard white light, and there’s also three-stage dimming mode too. Gimmicky? Perhaps, but my passengers loved it, and it just adds to being a little more individual.

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Both rows of rear seats are pleasant, with each seat easily accommodating an adult with ease, and all seats recline really far down, which gives passengers even more comfort, especially when they want to rest on longer journeys. If you want the cabin to look and feel a little more luxurious, go for the leather seat facings – a £1,550 option.

Leg room is definitely adequate, although to give the third row more space, the second row would have been better designed with another notch in the sliders to do this (they slide forward to allow the rear row to get in and out). I honestly can’t see why Hyundai didn’t do this as the second row would still have loads of room.

Hyundai i800 third row seats legroom

Hyundai i800 third row seats leg room

 

The stereo gets FM radio with MP3/WMA-compatible CD player, AUX and USB connections, speakers that are decently powerful and clear, and quite handily, two 12-volt power points.

The stereo is the main area I have a problem with though. Overall, the cabin is a really comfortable and pleasant place to be, and Hyundai have really thought it through well, but for some reason they have ridiculously not included – or given any option for – DAB radio or Bluetooth. Something which should absolutely be standard – or at least optional – on this kind of vehicle!

Storage-wise, there’s a whole heap of handy compartments scattered about the Hyundai, including the aforementioned two large front door pockets, two decently-sized gloveboxes, twin cupholders (which are hidden in the centre console), and smaller side pockets in the rear too. The third row get a cupholder each side, but the second row down not.

One of the reasons I chose the Hyundai i800 to test was because I had friends who we would drop off at the airport after our holiday, and they had full-sized luggage to take home with them, as well as hand luggage and all the other gear you carry when travelling back after a vacation.

Luggage space Hyundai i800 manual

Unlike a normal MPV, or six or seven seater, not only does the Hyundai have eight proper seats, it also has an utterly humongous boot too, with the i800 packing 851 litres of space. The vertical room is massive, it really helped being able to pile stuff high to the ceiling, jamming in as much gear as could – which was a huge amount.

One let-down to the boot – there are no tie-down points or bag/net hooks at all, which is a stupid thing to leave out. If you’re transporting something and you don’t want it sliding all over the place, or you’re stacking suitcases high, and don’t want them falling over, it’s almost impossible to do with the large floor space of the boot. It’s something Hyundai should have included as par for the course of this type of vehicle, and it baffles me as to why they didn’t.

Hyundai i800 3 row 8 seat people carrier luggage space

 

With safety in mind, the Hyundai i800 (also known as the H-1 in other regions), only managed a 3/5 star rating from Euro NCAP with the 2012 (still current). There are only front driver/passenger airbags, and no side or curtain ones. Definitely something that addressing on the next update.

Overall though, the i800 is almost perfectly suited to do the job of transporting eight people in comfort, and it’s actually a surprisingly agreeable place to be.

Engine & transmission

There’s only one engine available for the Hyundai i800; a 2.5 litre CRDi 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC turbo-diesel, with two power outputs, depending on which transmission you choose, and it’s driven through the rear wheels.  The six-speed manual version produces 134 bhp at 3,800 rpm, and 253 lb ft (343Nm) of torque between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm, while the five-speed automatic has 168 bhp and 324 lb ft (440Nm) of torque.

The manual does the 0 – 62 mph run in a rather casual 17.6 seconds, while the automatic completes it in a far better time of 14.4.  Top speed is just 104 mph (112 for the auto), but I wouldn’t like to take this big beast much above that anyway, even if it was higher.

Official fuel economy stats (UK mpg) are: urban: 30.7, extra urban: 44.1, combined: 37.7, with 197 g/km CO2. While there’s no trip computer to go by, reports from owners are coming back as 30+ mpg. The automatic gets around 5 – 7 mph less than the manual.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

With only the manual available as a tester from Hyundai, I was almost hesitant to book the i800. The reason: a trip to the Lake District was planned, and not only would the Hyundai by carrying six or seven adults, but the boot would also be absolutely packed to bursting with luggage.

If you’re not familiar with the Lake District, think absolutely beautiful scenery – inspiration, in fact, for J.R.R Tolkein’s books The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings. The majority of roads are narrow, and they twist and turn up steep hills as you head towards the mountains.

Driving the Hyundai i800 3 row 8 seat people carrier

Not only would the i800 have to cope with being at 80 – 90% load capacity, but it already has a hefty 2,238 kilograms (4,934 lbs) kerb weight even before that. So you can understand my being tentative about the 2.5 CRDi manual’s power and torque being sufficient enough to do the job without wheezing weakly every time it needed to go uphill.

However, I fretted unnecessarily for the i800 didn’t struggle once, even up the steeper sections of road, and it seemed perfectly happy in the job too. Changing up gears in the 1,500 – 2,500 rpm band provides you with a respectable shove of torque, and the Hyundai seemed in some strange way to relish tackling sharply-angled roads, and I was genuinely surprised at just how competently it took them on.

It was the same case with getting up to speed when coming onto a motorway. Again, the 2.5 litre turbo-diesel proved itself to be absolutely fine, by accelerating at a decent rate down the slip road, before merging at the 70 mph+ speeds other cars were doing around it. Don’t expect to be blown away by the turn of speed, but it’s definitely acceptable considering the weight it’s pulling. Also, don’t be put off by that 17.6 second zero to sixty-two mph figure, because it bizarrely feels quite a bit quicker than that anyway, and I never had an issue with the Hyundai’s acceleration in any area.

The cabin is superbly well insulated from engine, road and wind noise, and it is honestly a decently-hushed ride, regardless of whether you’re in city traffic or cruising at speed. My passengers were impressed with that side of things, which is always important, especially if you’re going to be using the i800 for business use.

Hyundai i800 steering wheel dashboard

With the 6-speed manual, gear ratios are really nicely spaced, and fairly long in each gear, meaning no need to change up quickly. Sixth gear is long enough to make the revs sit quite low at motorway speeds, which allows for a quieter, more relaxed drive overall, as well as reducing fuel use.

One thing missing – and that isn’t optional either – is cruise control. I don’t know why Hyundai have chose to leave this off, as it’s the kind of vehicle that would be used for airport runs and holiday trips, meaning longer distances.

Handling-wise, the i800 wasn’t anywhere near as wallowy or top-heavy as I’d expected, and I was pleasantly surprised by how decently it gets around the corners, even when fully loaded. Certainly, put behind you thoughts of the Hyundai feeling like a big van to drive – it doesn’t, at all.

The i800 actually rides better with a full load than without, for unladed the suspension is feels firm over bumps and imperfections in the road. However, this is understandable – it has to be firmer than usual in order to cope with the full-laden weight. It’s not uncomfortably stiff though, and certainly wouldn’t put me off.

While the brakes don’t grab harshly – a good thing which means a more comfortable ride for passengers – I also found that when the i800 was fully loaded, the braking didn’t give me quite as much confidence as I would like. Sure, they aren’t terrible, but a few times I’d have definitely felt better if they had more stopping power, such as one occasion when driving down a steep hill to a roundabout, and a car decided to dart out in front of us. On that occasion and a couple of others, the braking just didn’t feel sharp enough, but for the majority of the time they’re fine.

Driving the Hyundai i800

One thing I must mention is just how good the turning angle is of the i800. Because the Hyundai is huge, the turning circle is naturally quite large, but the wheels can be turned to such a degree that getting into tight parking spaces and tackling entry/exit on narrow driveways is actually quite easy.

Safety tech isn’t huge on the i800, abut it still gets ABS, traction control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), and tyre pressure monitoring.

While the i800 has reverse sensors (thank goodness), it would really benefit hugely from a reverse camera system, as vision below the large rear window is non-existant, and you could easily find yourself getting a bollard-shaped dent pretty easily. Hyundai don’t offer a system for a reverse camera, but go online and you can find easy-to-fit wireless ones from around £85.00 upwards.

Price

(figures correct Sept. 2015) With two models but only one spec level to choose from, plus just two optional extras, it’s easy to choose which version of the i800 you want. The 135 PS 6-speed manual comes in at £24,280, while the 170 PS automatic is £26,130.

The optional extras I mentioned are either metallic/pearl paint for £610.00, or leather seat trim facings for £1,550.

The i800’s pricing makes it a very tempting offer, considering you’re getting eight proper seats, a huge boot, and a decently-equipped, very comfortable cabin. If I needed the space and seating capacity, I’d absolutely be looking seriously at the i800.

Rivals include the Peugeot Expert Tepee (7 or 9 seats): £23,810 – £29,450, Citroen Dispatch Combi (up to 9 seats): £23,855+, Volkswagen Caravelle: £30,100+.

2015 Hyundai i800 135PS 2.5 CRDi Style Manual verdict & score

After just over a week with the Hyundai i800 135PS, and giving it a thorough workout in the transportation stakes, I ended up way more impressed with the big people transporter than I expected. There’s something about the i800 that gives it personality, and I honestly can’t lay my finger on exactly what that is.

Let’s go over what needs improvement: there’s no Bluetooth for calls or music, and no DAB either. There’s also no reverse camera (or option for it), and there are zero tie-down points to keep your bags and luggage from flying all over the big, flat boot. The brakes could do with being slightly more powerful for when the car is loaded to the max, and if you’re using this for airport runs, there’s no cruise control to make life easier.

Now for the good stuff: every seat is comfortable and roomy. The rear of the i800 is airy, non-claustrophic, and separate ventilation with ice-cold air con makes for a pleasant journey in summer, and a warm cabin throughout in winter. The boot space is humongous too.

The i800 actually drives and rides quite nicely, with the 2.5 CRDi 135PS providing plenty of torque low-down, and you’ll genuinely be pleasantly surprised with just how quiet the cabin is too, no matter the speed. Oh, and Hyundai offer a rather tempting 5-year unlimited milage warranty as standard. All said, I really like the Hyundai i800 – a superb people transporter!

Do you own a Hyundai i800/iMax/H-1/Starex or have questions about it? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below! Read more of our Hyundai reviews here

Exterior  7
Interior  8
Engine  7
Gearbox  7
Price  8
Handling  6
Drive & Ride  7.5
Overall Score  7.0 / 10 

Specs

Model (as tested)  2015 Hyundai i800 2.5 CRDi 135PS Style Manual review
Spec includes  16″ alloy wheels, reverse sensors, sliding side doors, heated driver’s seat, split 60/40 reclining 3rd row seats, split 60/40 sliding and reclining 2nd row seats, air conditioning with rear controls, auto dimming rear view mirror, front fog lights, electric side mirrors, electric front windows, 6 speakers, stereo with radio/CD player with MP3 disc compatibility + USB & AUX connections, ABS, EBD, ESP, TPMS, front airbags, 5-year unlimited milage warranty  See website for more detail
Options you should spec  Silver metallic paint: £610. Reverse camera not an option – buy one online.
The Competition  Peugeot Expert TepeeCitroen Dispatch CombiVolkswagen Caravelle:
Price  (Sept. 2015)
Engine  2.5 litre CRDi turbocharged diesel, 4-cylinder in-line, 16-valve
Power, Torque  (as tested) Power: 134 bhp @ 3,800 rpm | Torque: 253 lb ft (343Nm) between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm
Drive, Transmission (as tested)  Rear wheel drive | 6-speed manual
Boot space, Towing Capacity  Boot space: 851 litres | | Braked towing: 2,300 kgs (5,070 lbs)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 104 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 17.6 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 3/5 stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 30.7, Extra urban: 44.1, Combined: 37.7 | CO2: 197 g/km
Weight (Min. kerb)  2,238 kgs (4,934 lbs)
Websites  Hyundai UK, Hyundai worldwide

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

10 responses to “2015 Hyundai i800 2.5 CRDi 135PS Style Manual review – A Rather Good 8-Seat People Transporter”

  1. Shaun Geddes

    I have an Hyundai i800, its been converted to 9 seated by fitting twin passenger seat from iload van.
    It’s had cruise control fitted, ( same engine & gearbox as Kia Sorrento, Auto ) under £400
    Led lights fitted in the boot, so you can leave rear interior lights switched to mood lighting .
    I agree about the radio, should have dab & Bluetooth.
    Could do with driver armrest as standard, its an option.
    I think you will find that it’s rear wheel drive, not front as stated. Not a problem, I fit winter tyres from November until end of February ( never been stuck, & we are in Scotland )
    It’s used as a private hire Venice, used for airport transfers etc
    It was registered Sept 2012, & has covered 129000 miles, repairs have been front discs at 65000 normal wear & tear item, & front to rear heater pipes, around £700 fitted.
    It’s serviced every 10k instead of every 12.5k as Hyundai recommend.
    So far its been absolutely great, it averages around 525 – 550 to a tank of diesel (34ish)
    Intend to run it to 250000, & will be replacing it with the same again.
    When I bought it, I also looked at Mercedes Vito, & VW Transporter, but from a business point of view, it was a no grained. Far cheaper to buy, running costs for this type of vehicle are much the same whatever the make, residual value is nethier here or there, as by the time I’ve finished with it, it will be worth very little, but the same thing at 250000 miles with either Merc or VW.
    I hope you have found this interesting & helpful, if you are thinking of buying one of these.
    Shaun Geddes83@aol
    Perth Private Hire.

  2. Ivo

    Hi,
    I have an I800 and have been looking to convert it to a nine Seater.
    Shaun, can you please let me know how its done please? Does the actual seat from the iload uses same fixing points? And how do you actually make it legal- is it filling the blue part in the V5 only or something else has to be done? Thanks

  3. Ivo

    I would really appreciate your answer. Otherwise its a great vehicle. I had Hyundai’s for the last 10 years and never been dissapointed from them. 3 words for them- cheap,reliable and trustworthy. Thanks

  4. David wright

    I’ve owned my i800 for about 2 years now, got it at 47 and it’s now coming up for 67k, no issues apart from wear and tear and servicing so far.

    I too looked at the vw alternative but the cost of the same age and mileage transport would have been about 17k as aposed to the 11 we paid! No brainer in my opinion! Great vehicle!
    Thank you for a review that doesn’t expect it to be a cross between a Ferrari and a rollsroyce!

  5. Dave Hughes

    Private hire i800 user, bought at 92k and now in 198k in 18 months! Standard wear and tear, NO major faults. Great car for me so far 🙂

  6. Julian Redgrave

    I have a 2011 i800 with the 168bhp engine. (62000 miles) Manual. I use it for my work with the rearmost seats removed as I need to carry lots of items about. I found that the removal of the seats made it cavernous but lightened the rear end making it very very skittish on corners when the road was wet. The addition of a large container of water (waste container from my caravan) solves this. The removed seats are very heavy. The vehicle is huge for carrying stuff. It is overall a well finished vehicle and comfortable.

    I also tow a very large 7.8 meter , 1875kgs twin axle caravan. It was the only people carrier that was recommended by the Camping and Caravan club to be able to tow this van. It does the job extremely well. I also own a Mitsubishi Shogun 3,2 litre auto. It is, nearly as good as the Shogun for general towing and stability. Obviously it will never be as good as it is lighter and not 4wheel drive.

    On the down side….
    No Cruise Control. This is a big downer for a caravanner. I will have an aftermarket one fitted.
    No Bluetooth. I have had an aftermarket system fitted. Not too expensive.
    Colour. Don’t ever buy a black one! Looks beautiful when clean but shows every little mark.
    Rear Vision. Poor but a rearview camera has solved this.
    Road Tax. Double if you have an auto which is why I had a manual (£500 for the auto)
    Would I buy another …. Absolutely yes !

  7. David wright

    Update, I’ve now owned my beloved “Henry” now for 2 years and 3 months, just about to tick over to 70,000 miles, my coolant pipes need doing as many do on these, apart from that all good!

    Anyone thinking of buying one of these, please grease these pipes and they’ll last forever!
    I am also converting mine to a 9 seater with an iload twin seat although I have been informed I will need to drill holes as the mounting points/holes are not present

    Anyone who owns one please join my facebook owners group for i800 and iload vans

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/495221247269073/

  8. Samantha hughes

    Having major problems with my Hyundai i800 where is the best place to go for advice I’ve been tossed and turned from so many different garages about b******* and I’m getting fed up now the love of my life has been sat on my drive now for almost a year and wasting away I live in Nottinghamshire any help would be very much greatly appreciated need of help thanks

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