Meet the iMax

Hyundai’s people mover remains great value in a competitive market

At Delivery Magazine, we’ve been in our fair share of people movers. Some are great, some are average and some are downright diabolical.

In the great end of the spectrum, sit the Korean manufacturers of Kia and Hyundai. The Kia Carnival is probably ranked as one of the best value kiddie carriers on the market, blending, as it does, the attributes of a car (albeit one that’s shaped like a Mum bus) with the carrying capacity needed to get children and their friends to soccer on Saturdays.

If safety is everything, and you like status as well as value for money, then look no further than the Mercedes-Benz Valente. This was our pick this year for Delivery Magazine’s People Mover of the Year award, and we haven’t seen any reason to doubt otherwise.

The Hyundai iMax sits in midstream. It’s not as ideally clever as the Carnival, not quite as opulent as the Valente, but it’s a darn sight better than a HiAce. In fact, everything on the market is better than a HiAce.

Before we look at what you get for your money with the iMax, let’s look first at how much it’s likely to cost you to keep it. CARS_Vans_ Hyundai iMax

Hyundai has recently introduced fixed price servicing. At the small car end of the scale, a three-year service expectation for a product such as the i20 is going to cost the best part of $567.00, or $189 per visit. For the much larger iMax, this pricing structure rises to a three-yearly expectation of $1,047, or $349 per visit.

Hyundai iCare capped price servicing does just what it suggests, and fixes costs for the first thee years of the vehicle life. Included in the benefits are free upgrades to NavTeq MapCare, Australia’s first five-year, unlimited-distance warranty, complimentary roadside assist for 12 months on new vehicles, and the same specific benefit for servicing customers up to a seven-year-old vehicle.

You get a complimentary first free service at 1,500 km or one month, access to Quick Service, which supposedly completes a service within one hour, genuine parts used in the service, a free magazine and 24/7 customer support.

So, while hopefully you have proven the Hyundai customer service is second to none, we’ll now look at whether you are going to be happy living with your iMax.

The more van-like iLoad scored two consecutive wins in the Delivery Magazine Best Van of the Year awards back in 2008 and again in 2009. The iMax hasn’t been without its supporters either, with Australia’s seven state and territory based motoring clubs recognising the iMax as a class winner in the 2011 Australia’s Best Cars national awards, with the voting staying consistent as it recognised iMax as the Best People Mover for four consecutive years.

Mark Borlace, Australia’s Best Cars Chief Judge, said, “The iMax stands out from its competition in three crucial areas, which are important when considering a people mover – its ride and handling is as good as some purpose-built people movers; it is one of only a handful of people movers that can genuinely transport eight adults with luggage; and it is extremely functional.”

At Delivery Magazine we have no problem with the view of the associations, but thought it was about time we looked at any updates to the product in recent months.

Back in 2011, the iMax added Bluetooth connectivity and iPod integration. The latest versions of the iMax include audio streaming with any compatible device.

CARS_Vans_ Hyundai iLoad and iMaxFor 2012, there have been small but significant changes, with the iLoad and iMax range of vehicles now featuring a more fuel-efficient 2.5-litre CRDi turbo diesel engine mated to a new six-speed manual transmission.

Hyundai is one of an elite group of automotive companies that designs and manufactures their own transmissions in-house. The new six-speed manual gearbox utilises multi-cone synchronisers for improved shift quality, and includes a button-operated reverse gear lock-out to provide further ease of operation. The short stroke of the transmission ensures a quick and accurate shift action to further enhance the economy of the driveline.

In iLoad configuration, this delivers 8.0 l/100 km, a six percent reduction in fuel consumption; while the uprated 2.5-litre CRDi turbo diesel engine and five-speed automatic transmission combination achieve 8.8 l/100 km, an eight percent improvement.

When fitted with the 2.5-litre CRDi turbo diesel engine mated to the new six-speed manual transmission, the iMax achieves 8.1 l/100 km, a five percent more fuel efficient operation; while the uprated 2.5-litre CRDi turbo diesel engine and five-speed automatic transmission combination improves to 9.0 l/100 km, an eight percent reduction in fuel consumption.

The diesel engine features a standard waste gate turbocharger and, when mated to the six-speed manual transmission, the diesel engine’s peak torque of 343 Nm now starts earlier in the rev range, from 1,500 rpm through to 2,500 rpm. Peak power is 100 kW @ 3800 rpm. The same engine configuration, but with a variable geometry turbocharger, and when matched to the five-speed automatic transmission, increases peak torque to 441 Nm @ 2,000 to 2,250 rpm. Peak power is 125 kW @ 3,600 rpm.

Although the product line up of the iLoad and iMax is now getting a bit long in the tooth, it still stacks up well against the competition. Seats are comfortable and the centre row can be slid forwards or backwards to increase or decrease legroom in either sector of the layout. The rear seats are fixed, and, in this position, there is some seriously useable space between the seat back and the rear tailgate when closed.

The iMax still drives well on the open road, and with sliding doors for access on both sides of the body, there’s no trouble for the seven passengers to climb in and out.CARS_Vans_ Hyundai iLoad and iMax

Vision remains amongst the best in class of the one-tonne van/people mover brigade, and, with a relatively quiet interior, the iMax is easy and pleasant to drive, backed by the benefit of knowing the vehicle holds a four-star crash safety rating endorsement.

We would still recommend staying with the diesel engine and the automatic transmission, and the buyer here gets a good package, with power-assisted, rack and pinion steering; electronic stability control; traction control; disc brakes all round; four-channel, four-sensor Anti-skid Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD); driver and passenger airbags; and three-point retractable seat belts for all occupants.

The ride comfort is slightly more supple than the cargo carrying iLoad, due largely to having a five-link, coil sprung rear suspension in place of the leaf sprung rear end of the van. There are a couple of other options available, including a locking rear differential, something that’s invaluable for those on slippery terrain, plus rubber mats and carpet options.

It’s important to keep price in the equation with all people movers, as the cost can escalate as the options boxes are ticked with greater enthusiasm. The iMax pricing starts off at $37,290 for the petrol manual, rising to $42,490 for the 2.5-litre CRDi diesel with the five-speed automatic. In any language, that’s plenty of bang for your buck.

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