Car Market Chronicles
Is the Market Ready For Such a Van?
Hyundai Staria has enough external and internal characteristics to revolutionize what used to be a predictable market segment
- Cabin designed to seat up to nine with plenty of comfort, space and tech
- Exterior designed to merely wrap the cabin; received a secondary role
- Will it set a new standard among vans or become just another oddball?
Vans, especially full-size ones, make one of the most rational categories in the automotive industry. They are supposed to seat as many people as possible while providing them comfort to endure long and/or frequent trips, and none of that should take too much of a toll on their external size or final price. It is easy to understand that such requirements imply harsh limitations on their design options.
Models like Ford Tourneo and Opel Zafira Life are so similar because of that. In order to maximize the cabin, engine and cargo rooms are compressed and the external design is quite boxy. Inside, everything is simple and objective to be easy to operate. Vans like that have sold quite well for decades, so it seems that there is no need to work on them, right? Well, Hyundai definitely does not agree with that.
How is the Staria different?
On the outside, everything attempts to break the status quo. The front end has full-width daytime running lights and low-set headlamps and grille. While the sides look minimalist, they stand out for the height division between windows and sheetmetal close to 50/50. That wasn’t used even in the 1990s, when low waistlines were in fashion. Here, such large windows provide a much better experience to all occupants.
The rear follows the same guidelines: full-height tail lights, full-width window and nothing more. Inside, there are wraparound dashboard, big infotainment touchscreen, digital gauge cluster and multiple seat layouts. The Premium trim level adds ambient lighting and second row of seats with a relaxation mode and the possibility to swivel 180°. Everything wrapped in high-quality leather, of course.
What does all that represent?
Hyundai took an inside-out approach: the cabin was the priority and then the exterior was designed around it. Although the Staria doesn’t really look bad, it accepts its people-hauler role by doing its best at… hauling people rather than experimenting with any other goal, such as the Fiat Talento with sportiness. It is certainly going to be an interesting option for specific commercial purposes like high-end hotels.
As if that was not enough, Staria’s concept can be intriguing by itself. In times when everyone is so obsessed with appearances while pretending to focus on “what really matters”, the Korean van turns out to actually do that: the space and comfort it offers were obtained at the expense of external attractiveness — the word “beauty” is not applicable here because it is still able to turn quite a few heads wherever it goes.
Hyundai’s spaceship-like van definitely shatters the status quo in some aspects and settles for simply evolving others. Do you think the Staria has potential to set new standards at its market segments or will it be considered excessive to its target audience? Besides that, would you drive one for personal use or do you think it only belongs to commercial purposes? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below!