ROAD TEST: Hyundai iLoad

Let’s get the most annoying aspect of the Hyundai iLoad out of the way first – the key. The key for the iLoad isn’t so much of a problem in itself – after all it is a key, it does what keys are supposed to do; start the vehicle. Rather it is the positioning of the single button to lock and unlock the iLoad that is the sore point.

By putting the button on the side of the key makes it ridiculously easy to accidentally lock (or unlock) the iLoad without meaning to and the use of a single button to both lock and unlock it means that if you aren’t sure whether you locked it or not, you won’t be until you go back and pull on the door handle.

All in all, the key for the Hyundai iLoad is very annoying.

However, the upside to that is the fact that the key is the single biggest downside to the iLoad. And if the key is the most annoying thing about a commercial vehicle, then that suggests that it must actually be a very good commercial vehicle indeed. Which the iLoad is.

Apart from the key, the iLoad is a very agreeable vehicle to live with. It is extraordinarily easy to drive, with an interior that is not only comfortable and pleasantly laid-out, but also surprisingly well equipped. Featuring an MP3 compatible CD player – with auxiliary and USB inputs and steering wheel controls – an adjustable steering column, air conditioning, numerous cup holders and a wide range of different-sized storage compartments scattered around the cabin, the iLoad ticks all the boxes that you would expect in a van and then ticks a few more for good measure.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine produces an impressive 125kW of power at 3,800rpm and an even more impressive 392Nm of torque at 2,000rpm, endowing the iLoad with an impressive level of performance, while still achieving a car-like flexibility around town.

The five-speed manual gearbox is mated to a light, positive clutch and offers an excellent ratio spread with a shorter first gear for getting heavy loads on the move.

This all combines to make the iLoad fairly effortless to potter around town in and impressively brawny out on the open road. Making it most un-White Van-like indeed.

Also un-White Van-like is the iLoad’s safety ratings. With four stars in both ANCAP and Euro NCAP testing, the iLoad comes standard with stability control, ABS brakes – with electronic brake-force distribution – and two airbags, making it one of the safer vans on the road.

It’s also one of the more frugal too, with a claimed combined average of 8.5L/100km and emissions of 225g/km.

With dual siding doors either side and a top-hinged tailgate – barn-type doors are an option – ease of access and flexibility is a strongpoint. The side doors lock in place when open – a boon when on a slope – and all side windows in the rear feature guard bars.

As tested the iLoad drops into the market at a very competitive $46,990. As a package it is comfortable, versatile, practical and, probably most importantly, very easy to live with on a daily basis and would make a very worthy addition to any fleet. Even if you do have to put up with that key.

This article first appeared in New Zealand Company Vehicle magazine.

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