2022 Hyundai Staria review | Top of the line

It’s the people carrier we’d all like to be seen in. Yes, even the most surly teenagers would snag their bags to go to Granny’s in this sleek, cutting-edge room with a futuristic design. This is Hyundai’s Staria MPV. Up to 11 people in fact. And also available in motorhome. But not available in UK. Still. It recently arrived in Europe, the UK business case is being assessed. Not surprising given that we rejected minivans for SUVs. Now you regret ditching the Zafira for a Grandland, don’t you?

What would that come up against?

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

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Not a bad cry. What is his size?

Bigger than you think. Based on an extended version of Hyundai/Kia’s N3 platform used for the Tucson, Sportage and Sorento among others, at 5.2 meters it is 250mm longer than a T7 Multivan, and taller too. That’s the crux for UK vans – Staria’s regular 1990mm height is just below most UK height limiters, but go for the Camper (2095mm) or high-roof limo ( 2,200mm) and you’re probably snookered.

But that exterior size is reflected on the inside. The minivan can be equipped with nine (three rows of three) or seven seats (four captain’s chairs, then a bench seat for three people). There are twin sliding doors. The Camper is a close-to-California copycat from VW, so you can have a fully-equipped pickup truck that seats and seats four, or a stripped-down version that seats 11 by squeezing into a fourth row. But it still only sleeps four, which isn’t very helpful. Throw a few tents. There is plenty of room for them behind and under the seats.

Tell me about the design.

It’s crunchy isn’t it? Such a clean, bold face with subtly chamfered edges, a large grille, full-width light strip and hidden headlights. The flanks and the rear are almost as successful. It’s a piece of design to rival the VW ID.Buzz, and it didn’t even have a retro hero to draw inspiration from. The dipping glass line along the side makes you feel a bit exposed though. This may explain why the windows are so heavily tinted.

Is it also advanced to drive?

Maybe we should just leave this review here? Move on and, uh, make things shine… no, of course not. One day, Hyundai promises to electrify the Staria (or its replacement), but for now the cutting-edge design is paired with a decidedly backward-looking 2.2-litre diesel engine. 175 hp and 318 lb-ft from 1,500 to 2,500 rpm to the front wheels via a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Economy varies between versions, but most return around 28mpg and 190g/km of CO2. Some, for those who dream of a Mitsubishi Delica, can be equipped with HTRAC all-wheel drive.

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

To drive, it’s like a van even though it’s not van-based. It’s reasonably refined and the engine vibrations don’t slam too hard, but you’re sitting high up, it’s heavy and sluggish with sluggish steering. It sits straight and true on the motorways (unless there are crosswinds) but it doesn’t compress rides as effectively as VWs. Although at least you don’t constantly have to keep your eyes peeled for free charging points.

How much does it cost?

Kind of a pointless drill considering you can’t buy one in the UK, but in Korea a basic drill starts at around £19,000, rising to more than double that for a fully loaded camper van version. If you chose to import one, know that Hyundai is already building them in right-hand drive for the Australian market.

Tell me more about the Camper.

Think of it as a VW California that has undergone a technological makeover. It has most of the features, but swaps out some of the VW’s convenience touches (chairs in the tailgate, folding table in the sliding door, hob) for more Insta-friendly features (integrated shower hose, flip-up screen, mood lighting). The electric pop-up roof is very slow, the downstairs ‘bed’ needs a mattress topper to literally take over the folded-flat seats, but it also appears well thought out, a cool and quite compelling alternative to Cali.

What’s the verdict?

“The Staria is a stuffy-looking minivan. That alone should earn it a spot on UK price lists”

Futuristic looks hide mundane underbits. Still, the Hyundai Staria is the acceptable face of the minivan.

The Staria is a stuffy-looking minivan. That alone should earn it a spot on UK price lists. Look at the number of imported Japanese used MPVs to prove that there is demand in a market sector that all the fashionable European VW brands have abandoned in favor of SUVs. The van class needs a vertigo and, frankly, the ID.Buzz could do with the support.

It’s huge inside, equipped with extremely versatile seating options and, since it’s not originally based on a van, it offers a better level of comfort and refinement than you might think. We have no doubt that diesel is the right choice, but a hybrid alternative would make sense and better reflect the exterior appearance. As it stands, it’s just not as sophisticated as the exterior design would suggest. But only you would be aware of that. The other large brood parents watching would be green with envy.

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