STEPPING UP

Hyundai increases the pressure on the van market with the launch of the H350

Think back 20 years and you’ll be hard pressed to remember anyone in your neighbourhood that owned a Hyundai car. Here is an automaker that didn’t exist before 1967, but, as the company sales records show, Hyundai today is a force not to be underestimated.

Hyundai is currently cementing a sales acceptance that sees the brand rank 3rd overall in the Australian market, for the 5th consecutive month, equating to a 9.8% market share. That share is the largest since April 1999 (11.7%) and is a record for the brand as a fully-owned subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company (V-Facts YTD August).

Ranked 2nd overall for passenger car sales in August, its performance reflected the 27th consecutive month of year-on-year sales growth for Hyundai in Australia.

In the light commercial sector Hyundai has seen its iLoad van and iMax people mover take No. 1 spot on more than one occasion, except when a lack of supply meant that it dropped back to enable Toyota to once again take the crown with its HiAce. Right now, the iLoad is holding 2nd place in the sales race with 27.5 percent market share, with the iMax enjoying No. 1 spot with 35.2 percent market share in the sub $55,000 segment.Hyundai_H350_van_4

Delivery has shown strong support through the years for the iLoad, awarding it the prestigious Van of the Year crown on more than one occasion. While we wait for a new updated version in the relatively near future, the company has again reason to celebrate as it launches a completely new larger light commercial onto our market called the H350.

The preview of the H350 took place in front of stiff competition at the IAA Show in Hannover Germany, where Allan Rushforth, senior vice-president and chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor Europe, gave Delivery a unique insight into what Australia can expect as soon as the right-hand-drive models become available.

“From 2008 to 2012 Hyundai doubled its market share in Europe. With the debut of the new H350 rear-wheel-drive to compete in 3.5 tonnes segment, we have a product that can compete on equal terms in the three options of cab/chassis, van and 14 to 15-seat passenger bus,” said Mr. Rushforth.

“Our timing sees a phased introduction starting in the first half of 2015 with Western Europe and then expanding to other European markets in the second half of 2015,” he added.

Joining Allan Rushforth in Hanover was Brandon Yea, who, in 2013, left his role as Hyundai’s president of Kia Motors Europe to take responsibility for the commercial vehicle export business at Hyundai.

“The Hyundai H350 will play a significant role in the future of our commercial business globally. The LCV business in Europe is forecast to grow by 20 percent in the next five years. Now is the right time to launch this vehicle, and it puts Hyundai Motors in a new position to compete,” Brandon told Delivery.

Hyundai_H350_van_8So far, Hyundai has only previewed the van version, but all three options share the same engine and driveline comprising a 2.5-litre, turbocharged and intercooled Euro 5 compliant diesel four-cylinder engine. This engine is believed to be a derivative of the engine from the iLoad and features a new-generation common-rail injection system and electronically controlled turbocharger.

There is a choice of power and torque outputs that offer maximum power of 110 kW and 125 kW produced at 3,600 rpm, with peak torque ratings of 373 Nm from 1,350 to 2,750 rpm, or 422 Nm rated from 1,500 to 2,750 rpm. Delivery’s view is that Australia will only take the higher output version. Currently, the first transmission on offer is a six-speed manual, but the company is known to be working on an automatic option.

“Because Hyundai tends to prefer to develop its own transmissions, we sometimes face a delay in being able to introduce both manual and auto options from day one. But it is in our plans,” confirmed Allan Rushworth.

With a GVW of 3.5 tonnes there’s nothing sub standard about the launch spec’ of the H350. Hydraulic power-assisted rack and pinion steering, MacPherson strut front suspension, and parabolic, single-leaf-sprung rear suspension with gas dampers is standard fare for this type of vehicle.

The H350 van derivative will offer two wheelbase options – 3,435 mm and 3,670 mm, with overall length dimensions of 5,515 mm and 6,195 mm – to provide cargo volumes of 5.5 and 6.2 cu. metres. The cargo payload options are 1,336-1,365 kg, and 1,233-1,262 kg for the higher volume version. The maximum towing weight for a braked trailer is 2.5 tonnes.

Internally, the cargo area provides a load length of 3,100 mm to 1,414 mm, with a width of 1,795 mm, an internal floor to roof height of 1,955 mm, and a deck height of 695-700 mm.

The cabin interior is spacious, as I found when sitting next to a member of the media from Eastern Europe who owned up to being a not inconsiderable 2.02 metres in height. Not one to doubt when he said he was comfortable.

A multifunction steering wheel houses audio and multi-display controls to alter information shown on the dashboard display. Cruise control and telephone hands-free functions can also be controlled from the steering wheel.

Much attention has been paid to interior noise, with Hyundai claiming a cab noise suppression level of 50 dBA at idle and just 70 dBA at cruise speed.

The low interior noise levels were achieved through the addition of high-density floor mat material, designed to effectively absorb sound, as well as extra-thick interior and exterior insulation between the dashboard and cabin. The front wheel arches are covered with wheel guards to limit the ingress of road noise from the vehicle’s tyres.Hyundai_H350_van_7

Work to strengthen the chassis and engine mounting points has helped to further dampen idling vibrations, while a specially-designed axle damper and propeller shaft reduce engine and booming noise under acceleration.

Advanced multimedia systems are offered to H350 customers, such as audio, navigation and parking assistance. As standard, H350 receives the latest audio system from the company, offering DAB digital radio and USB functionality, CD, MP3, auxiliary input, Bluetooth hands-free and iPod connectivity.

In addition, Hyundai offers H350 customers an eight-inch audio/video/navigation (AVN) combination system. Offered for the first time in an LCV, this system uses an Android operating system with 3D navigational maps and a full colour display.

For vehicles fitted with a rear-view camera, the AVN system displays a 135-degree panorama from the camera mounted at the rear of the vehicle. Those vehicles fitted with a Parking Assist System (PAS) also provide information to the driver from digital sensors, which feed H350’s cluster display and its audible alert systems for ease of manoeuvring and parking.

The large side mirrors are electronically controlled and feature heating elements for mist-free viewing. Rain-sensing wipers adjust their operating speeds automatically in line with the level of water detected on the windshield, and automatic headlights activate to illuminate the vehicle’s path when low light levels are encountered. A cruise control system is available together with hill-start and the option of a locking rear differential for maximum traction on slippery surfaces.

For the driver, the binnacle features a full-colour 4.2-inch TFT LCD display, providing quick visibility of the vehicle’s key information, including fuel economy, trip computer, parking sensor status and audio data.

H350 benefits from a range of the latest active and passive safety devices, and the four-wheel disc brake system is supported by a vehicle dynamic control system (VDC).

The VDC system controls H350’s engine and braking systems. Automatically preventing a loss of traction through its rear wheels, the system works in conjunction with the Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA) to activate the brakes quickly and efficiently in the event of an emergency stop. Linked to this system is Hyundai’s Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) system, which warns following drivers of heavy braking through a strobe effect function for the rear brake lights.

Further aiding safety is Roll Over Mitigation (ROM). This is an important system on a high-sided light commercial vehicle, reducing the chance of rolling the vehicle (laterally) during high speed cornering.

The full monocoque chassis boasts a large proportion of high-strength steel (75%), creating a robust and rigid steel framework, which employs a closed-ring structure for maximum strength. A sophisticated side-frame design has been engineered with an overlapping structure to provide optimal forward crash protection. As a result of this advanced design, head-on collision testing has confirmed H350 offers class-leading crashworthiness.Hyundai_H350_van_6

The cab interior features driver and (optional) passenger air bags with pre-tensioner seat belts and Hill-Start Assist Control fitted as standard. The optional Emergency Stop Signal and Lane Departure Warning System is partnered by an optional front and rear parking assistance system.

Hyundai claims the H350 has the longest corrosion life expectancy of any vehicle in its class, thanks to anti-corrosive treatments used during construction. Hyundai has engineered the H350 with 98 percent anti-corrosion steel, and has protected the vehicle’s chassis with an electro-coating process to ensure it resists corrosive fatigue.

All that remains is to actually drive the H350. Like the Ford Transit, which is an obvious competitor, the H350 is built by Karsan Otomotiv Sanayii ve Ticaret A.S, a long-term commercial vehicle production partner of Hyundai Motor Company based in Turkey.

With over two million kilometres of sub-zero testing in the cold of Finland and Russia, plus the summer heat of Spain, the H350 may not have yet turned a wheel in Delivery’s hands, but it nonetheless starts out with an impressive list of credentials.

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