Hyundai iLoad: A smooth operator

There are three basic variants of the Hyundai iLoad – the three seater van, the six seater crew van and the eight seater iMax people mover. All share a similar architecture with a semi-bonneted and rear wheel drive design on a 3200mm wheel base.

Due to the strong sales of the iLoad since its introduction to Australia four years ago, its shape has become familiar on our roads and the large expanses of panel work lend themselves to creative sign writing or vinyl wrapping.

The iLoad is available with a petrol engine or a choice of two common rail diesels. The 2.4 litre petrol engine produces 129 kW and 228 Nm of power and torque and is coupled to a five speed manual transmission. In addition to that, Hyundai recently upgraded the diesel drivelines and now offers two versions of the 2.5 litre engine and either a six speed manual or a five speed automatic transmission. The manual version has a 100kW standard Waste Gate Turbo (WGT) engine that delivers peak torque of 343Nm from as low as 1,500 rpm.

The test vehicle provided to Prime Mover had the five speed automatic and its diesel engine was equipped with a Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) that produces a peak power of 125kW at 3,600 rpm and a very impressive 441Nm of torque, maximised between 2,000 and 2,250 rpm. On paper, that may seem to be a narrow torque band, but there is still plenty of grunt available above and below that ‘sweet spot’ to get the job done. Hyundai claim that this combination will achieve a remarkable 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres on a combined fuel consumption cycle, which is an eight per cent improvement over the previous model.

The iLoad has as standard sliding doors on each side, which has practical and safety benefits and the standard configuration for the rear door is a lift up tail gate that thankfully elevates sufficiently to clear the head of anyone who is less than 1.85m high. At an extra cost of $550 twin swing barn doors are available with removable hinge pins, which allow them to open at an angle of 180 degrees – allowing the use of a forklift to access the 4.3 cubic metre interior from the rear.

The rear floor area of the iLoad is fitted with a thick vinyl mat, and ten robust looking load restraint rings that are large enough for commercial width ratchet straps are built into the floor. There is adequate space to carry two standard pallets.

When seated behind the steering wheel, the first thing noticeable is the wheel itself. No doubt sourced from the parts bin shared with other Hyundai passenger models such as the i30, it initially seems too small in diameter to be fitted to a commercial vehicle. The small wheel also emphasises the illusion that the front cabin is larger than it is (which is plenty big enough, anyway) but after just a few minutes on the road, the small wheel becomes quite natural and actually feels sporty.

The driver is confronted with a well laid out dash, numerous storage facilities and an excellent sound system that incorporates Bluetooth for a phone, a USB port for an iPod or MP3 player and an extra set of controls for the system is located on the left side of the steering wheel. There is blank panel on the right side of the steering wheel, which would house the cruise control buttons when fitted to a sedan, but that option is not currently available for the vans. A shame, as the iLoad cruises well at 110 kph even when saddled up with a medium load in the back and having cruise control would make freeway driving just that little bit easier.The driver’s and outboard passenger seats are comfortable enough, though the height adjustable driver’s seat could benefit from a lumbar support on longer journeys. The centre seat location is more of a jump seat (and is only equipped with a lap belt) and converts to a worktable and cup holder when not in use. Materials utilised in the interior seem ultra durable and the woven cloth seat material is practical and attractive.

A large van such as the iLoad presents a challenge to its climate control system as it’s a big area to keep cool or warm depending upon the season. During our week with the iLoad, we experienced weather extremes and can report that the air conditioner/heater was more than adequate to ensure interior comfort even on the lowest fan setting.

On the road the iLoad performs remarkably well – the engine has plenty of power to cope with the maximum payload of 1,098 kg, the automatic transmission shifts smoothly and for such a large vehicle it handles a lot like a car. Even when unladen, the iLoad showed no sign of being “tail happy” when cornering or braking. The iMax people mover version has a coil sprung rear suspension, but even the iLoad vans handle quite well with their rear leaf springs and gas shock absorbers.

The iLoad has a four star ANCAP safety rating as well as ABS and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) are standard. Options include electronic stability control and traction control systems, but are only available with a diesel engine. Maximum braked towing capacity is 2,000kg for the manual diesel and 1,500kg if fitted with the automatic transmission.

A wide range of Australian businesses have taken to the Hyundai iLoad: tradespeople, couriers, even the police. It has a solid feel and excellent specifications and the new diesel drivelines in particular will not only provide great performance but contribute to a lower cost of ownership and maintenance.

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