Star bright

In June 2023, Light Commercial Test, Hyundai6 MinutesBy Carl KirkbeckJuly 22, 2023

Hyundai has issued a solid challenge to global van manufacturers regarding safety, capacity and efficiency with the release of its new Staria Load commercial van. The Staria Load is boldly going where no van has gone before.

We got our first taste of the new Staria Load when we featured it in our May 2022 issue. But a recent cross-island trip to Wheels at Wanaka 2023 allowed us to put Hyundai’s striking delivery van to a long-distance test.

When Hyundai designers looked to sketch a replacement for the ageing but proven iLoad platform, they clearly used a clean sheet of paper. The Staria Load delivery van has presence, boasting a futuristic and stylish design that sets it apart from traditional commercial vehicles. A bold front grille, low-set headlights and sleek profile give it a modern, head-turning, near-sci-fi look.

But design flair has not been delivered at the expense of practicality or user safety. The van’s large side doors and low step-in height make loading and unloading cargo a breeze. Offering 4935 litres of cargo capacity, the two-seater Staria Load can easily accommodate three Euro pallets – with space to boot.

Up front, the driver and passenger have ample room. The Staria Load has also been awarded the maximum five-star safety rating under ANCAP’s 2020-2022 protocols – the most stringent to date – becoming the first commercial van to do so.

Massive tailgate opening allows ease of access, with twin barn doors as an option if fork-hoist access is required.

More power, Scotty
Under the bonnet, the new Staria Load is powered by a fresh 2.2-litre diesel engine that delivers 130kW (177hp) and 430Nm (317lb/ft) of torque. The engine features twin overhead cams with 16 valves, as well as common-rail injection and a variable geometry turbocharger. This makes for a lively driving experience, which can be further enhanced by selecting eco, normal and sport driving modes via the driver interface.

This Staria Load featured the eight-speed automatic transmission with sportshift (a six-speed manual is also available). The transmission was extremely smooth and responsive and was intuitive under load, allowing the engine to work within its peak parameters. On the open road, this made for consistent progress without the need for abrupt kick-down.

Auto pilot engaged
The overall driving experience of the Staria Load is further improved by the segment-leading suite of advanced safety technology featured as standard. This includes a haptic feedback steering wheel, lane keeping assist with departure warning, lane following assist, forward collision warning and smart cruise control. We found the smart cruise control worked fluidly with the engine and transmission combination and made for a set-and-forget drive. The haptic feedback steering wheel certainly has its place in this age of ‘distracted driver syndrome’. However, I found it a little too assertive for my liking once out of the city limits and on the open highway. This is easily rectified when you want 100% control by using the driver interface. The ability to temporarily disengage the lane keeping assist feature is found here, but only do this if you are truly capable of driving a vehicle without sending Snapchats or checking out your Facebook status…

In command
The onboard infotainment system is loaded with features that make it an attractive addition for business owners as well as end users. Based around a central 8in touchscreen display, the system supports CarPlay and Android, allowing drivers to easily navigate routes, stay connected and manage their schedules on the go. Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone integration is seamless. Wireless charging of compatible smartphones is supported, and there are twin USB inputs.

Other notable features include automatic climate control, power windows and locks, and keyless entry. The van also comes with a rear-view camera, which makes parking and reversing just that much easier, though all-round visibility through the large windows is perfect.

Placed directly in front of the driver is an easy-to-read digital instrument cluster that clearly displays all the essential driving information a driver requires.

The new Hyundai Staria Load has a big reputation to live up to when replacing the old iLoad. But after getting to know its features and driving characteristics, you get the clear impression the Staria has its eyes firmly focused on the crown.

The Staria Load presents great value for businesses needing a reliable, efficient and safe commercial vehicle built on a solid reputation. Its advanced features, sleek design and powerful engine make it a standout in its class, and I would hesitate a guess if Captain Kremmen and Carla were in the market for a new inter-stellar chariot to chase the Thargoids, they would look no further than Hyundai’s latest cosmic offering to the commercial sector.