Hyundai Staria Review 2022 | Top Gear

It’s the people carrier we’d all love to be seen in. Yep, even the surliest teenagers would hoik up their baggies to go to Granny’s in this sleek and shard-sharp piece of futuristic design. It’s Hyundai’s Staria people carrier. Up to 11 people in fact. And available as a campervan as well. But not available in the UK. Yet. It’s recently arrived in Europe, the UK business case is being assessed. Hardly surprising given we’ve rejected MPVs for SUVs. Now you’re regretting giving up the Zafira for a Grandland, aren’t you?

What would it go up against?

It’s a rival to the likes of the Mercedes V-Class, Ford’s Transit Trail and the ubiquitous VW T6 and Multivan. Or whatever Japanese import is being shifted at that lot down the far end of your nearest industrial estate (it’ll be a Nissan Elgrand or Toyota Alphard). Come to think of it, you could import one of these.

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Not a bad shout. How big is it?

Bigger than you think. Based on an extended version of the Hyundai/Kia’s N3 platform as used for the Tucson, Sportage and Sorento among others, at 5.2 meters it’s 250mm longer than a T7 Multivan, and taller too. This is the crux for UK van people – the regular Staria’s 1,990mm height just scrapes below most UK height restrictors, but go for the Camper (2,095mm) or high-roof Limousine (2,200mm) and you’re likely snookered.

But this external size is reflected inside. The people carrier can be had with either nine (three rows of three) or seven seats (four captain’s chairs, then a three person bench). There are twin sliding doors. The Camper is a close copy of VW’s California, so you can have a fully kitted out van that seats and sleeps four, or a stripped out version that somehow seats 11 by squeezing in a fourth row. But it still only sleeps four, which isn’t that useful. Throw in some tents. There’s plenty of room for them behind and underneath the seats.

Talk to me about the design.

It’s cracking isn’t it? Such a clean, bold face with subtly chamfered edges, a big grille, full width light strip and hidden headlights. The flanks and rear are nearly as successful too. This is a piece of design to rival the VW ID.Buzz, and it didn’t even have a retro hero to call on for inspiration. The dipping glass line along the side does make you feel a little exposed though. Maybe that explains why the windows are so heavily tinted.

Is it equally advanced to drive?

Maybe we should just leave this review here? Move on and, er, gloss things… no, of course not. One day, Hyundai promises it will electrify the Staria (or its replacement), but right now the forward-looking design is partnered by decidedly backward-looking 2.2-litre diesel engine. 175bhp and 318lb ft from 1,500-2,500rpm to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Economy varies between versions, but most return around 28mpg and 190g/km of CO2. Some, for those pining after a Mitsubishi Delica, can be had with HTRAC all-wheel drive.

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Alternatively, if you’re already laughing in the teeth of the cost of living crisis, there’s a V6. A 3.5-litre V6 no less, with 237bhp and 236lb ft. It runs on LPG for even more niche appeal, and is auto-only.

To drive, it’s like a van even though it isn’t based on a van. It’s reasonably refined and engine vibrations don’t clatter too hard, but you sit very high, it’s ponderous and sluggish with slow steering. It sits straight and true on motorways (unless there are crosswinds) but it doesn’t compress journeys as ably as the VWs. Although at least you’re not constantly having to keep your eyes peeled for free charging points.

What does it cost?

Kind of a pointless exercise given you can’t buy one in the UK, but in Korea a basic one starts at around £19,000, rising to more than double that for a fully loaded camper version. If you did choose to import one it’s worth knowing Hyundai does already build them in right-hand drive for the Australian market.

Tell me more about the Camper.

Think of it like a VW California that’s been given a tech makeover. It has most of the functionality, but switches some of the VW’s practical touches (chairs in the tailgate, fold-flat table in the sliding door, cooking hob) for more Insta-friendly features (built in shower hose, flip down screen, mood lighting). The electric pop-up roof is very slow, the downstairs ‘bed’ needs a mattress topper to literally take the edge off the folded-flat seats, but it comes across as well thought out, a cool and pretty compelling Cali alternative.

What’s the verdict?

The Staria is a corking looking people carrier. That alone ought to earn it a place on British price lists

Futuristic looks conceal run-of-the-mill underbits. Still, the Hyundai Staria is the acceptable face of MPVing.

The Staria is a corking looking people carrier. That alone ought to earn it a place on British price lists. Look at the number of imported second hand Japanese MPVs around for proof there’s demand in a market sector that every fashionable European marque bar VW has abandoned in favor of SUVs. The van class needs a giddy up and, frankly, the ID. Buzz could do with the support.

It’s huge inside, equipped with enormously versatile seating options and because it’s not originally based on a van, has better comfort and refinement levels than you might expect. We don’t doubt diesel is the right choice, but a hybrid alternative would be sensible and better reflect the outward appearance. As it is, it’s just not as sophisticated as the exterior design would lead you to believe. But only you would be aware of that. Fellow parents of large broods looking on would be green with envy.

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