- Max Speed
It may not look it, but the Hyundai i800 is a stripped-out racer. Really, it is. See, back in Korea, this van-derived people-lugger is sold as a 12-seater. But over here – and diappointingly for those looking to acquire the ultimate car-pooling machine – it comes with a piffling eight seats. Which makes it the equivalent of the Megane R26.R on page 56: a flyweight performance edition. And just look at that flimsy, rattly plastic finish on the dash. That’s weight-saving, that is.
As if you needed more evidence, the i800 is diesel-powered. Your petrol-burning racers are so 20th-century, darling; this decade, it’s all about diesel. Just ask Audi and Peugeot. It’s a pretty tidy engine too – a 2.5-litre common-rail unit that hauls the i800 along at a surprisingly respectable huff. It might be a touch more agricultural than your average Le Mans racer, but by minibus standards, this is a firecracker.
Oh, and like any self-respecting performance car (OK, performance van), the i800 is rear-wheel drive. Not that this makes a blind bit of difference in everyday driving, but it’s nice to know that – equipped with the necessary disregard for safety and a penchant to destroy most of the local countryside – you could have a shot at drifting it.
You’d require a death wish to do so, because the i800 isn’t the sharpest drive. There are paddle steamers with quicker responses. The problem is the sheer size of the i800: you sit so high that you run the very real risk of vertigo – though if you’re of a voyeuristic bent, you’ll appreciate the view into the first-floor windows of nearby houses – while its length and width are best quoted in furlongs.
But it’s churlish to gripe about the road manners of the i800. It’s a great van designed to transport eight people as cheaply as possible, and it does that rather well. If you’re after a stripped-out racer, though, you’re probably better off with that Megane.
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