£26,905 - £29,355 Price range
33 - 37 MPG
There aren’t many cars that can seat eight people (legally) at the same time. The massively overpriced Mercedes Viano is one, and the Ford Tourneo Custom is another. For those looking for something so accommodating, perhaps the most sensible choice is the Hyundai i800.
Vehicles such as these aren’t built for style, which the i800 proves in spectacular fashion. What it does have, however, is a roomy, comfortable cabin that is more than capable of swallowing eight passengers and all of their kit. Once you throw into a bargain price into the mix and then several of the Hyundai’s failings become easier to forgive.
The fact that it is so capable at the one thing that it’s designed to do gives it a charm of its own. Almost.
Like the outside of the i800, those hoping for some style in the cabin should look elsewhere. The dash is bland, and everything is covered in grey plastic that feels both cheap and scratchy.
However, there is acres of space inside. Even with all eight seats in place, there is a gigantic 850-litre boot out back, while all three rows of seats have generous leg, head and shoulder room. The large windows make for a great view out, too. This is certainly a car which has been designed with practicality in mind, and from that point of view it makes a good case for itself.
The i800 was originally developed to be a van, so it will come as no surprise to discover the driving experience isn’t exactly the most thrilling that money can buy. However, thanks to more advanced suspension than the H-1 van on which it is based, it does have a fairly comfortable ride, while wind and road noise are quite well suppressed.
The brakes are strong and the steering feels nice enough. Considering Hyundai have got most other things right, it’s quite easy to forgive the wallowy handling.
Just one engine is available: a 2.5-litre turbo diesel. Producing 170hp, it is never going to set the world alight in a vehicle that – even before you stuff eight people inside it – weighs over 2,200 kilos. However, thanks to a very generous 324lb ft of torque, it doesn’t ever feel particularly wheezy either.
Fuel economy isn’t fantastic at a claimed 33mpg, and the gearshift is a little sloppy, but at least critics note that the engine is reasonably quiet.
The i800 hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, so it’s difficult to know exactly what score it would achieve. However, equipment levels are poor; only two airbags are available for the front passengers, while there are no side or curtain airbags for the rear rows. The middle three seats all feature Isofix brackets, which mean that child seats can be safely mounted.
For a car which starts at under £23,000, value for money is certainly one of the i800’s strong points. Kit levels are decent if not spectacular – you’ll find air-con, heated seats, CD player and electric windows – but thanks to the generous five year warranty, should anything go wrong you’ll be well-covered.
Depreciation is fairly steep, so it’s certainly worth keeping one for a good few years if you do commit to one.
It’s difficult to complain about what the i800 offers. Sure, it handles like a boat and it is possibly one of the least stylish vehicles money can buy, but as a car which is ‘fit for purpose’ there really isn’t much to fault. It’s comfy, reasonably refined and very good value for money.
Most will likely be sold to taxi firms, but for anyone else needing to transport as many as seven passengers around at the same time could certainly do worse than this.