Bowen's Report Card
Hyundai iMax Elite
- Drives like a bus
- Great airport shuttle
- Value for money
- Lack of safety features
- Only 4 airbags
THE BOWEN SCORE
The “Omnibus” is a ye old word for bus, very old, I’m reliably informed via a quick Google search. It appears the French noun came to be way back in the 1820s. It referred to long vehicles that were designed to carry many people, horse drawn of course. I was a bit of a bus tragic when I was younger, I didn’t want to be a fireman, I wanted to drive a Gosford Red Bus. So, when the chance came to drive the Hyundai iMax Elite, I was thrilled. Of course, it’s not a bus, but it does carry eight.
From behind the wheel, it does feel a little like a bus rather than a people mover. That’s because the iMax really should be carrying pallets of Amazon deliveries. It’s an iLoad stripped out and remodelled to resemble a corporate jet.
The Kia Carnival is the bees knees of people movers, that’s a known fact. So, you need to swallow some pride when buying an iMax. It does lack finesse due to a 2.5-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder, paired to a five-speed automatic. There’s nothing at all wrong with the 125kW / 441Nm unit, but most will see it like a mole on someone’s face, you know like one of those you can’t help staring at?
Putting the boot in results in forward momentum at a calm and steady rate. There’s a lot of clatter, some extra soundproofing would have been nice. But, it should be noted the iMax has a kerb weight of 2186kg, making the unfussed acceration something to appreciate.
There’s a feeling of being perched rather high, whereas the Kia Carnival or Honda Oddessy feel far more SUV-like. But it really does handle very well for what it is. It takes some time to adjust to the rather lifeless steering and the sheer size of the thing. But without a shadow of a lie I’m telling you it’s possible to drive the iMax with some vigour.
While no one will vigorously drive the iMax like I did, it does go to show that Hyundai isn’t just cracking jokes. The Elite model does surround you with a rather flash interior, it’s not as ostentatious as the Toyota Granvia VX, but it also doesn’t have the latter’s $75,000 price tag.
I’m happy to report that the iMax surpassed my expectations when it came to driving dynamics. The brakes have great feel, the ride is well controlled and within a short period it shrinks around you, a good thing considering the iMax is more than five metres long, 5.15m to be precise.
Value For Money
If you need to move a lot of people and cargo, it’s game, set, match when it comes to value. The as-tested Elite starts at $48,490 before on-roads. A top spec Kia Carnival Platinum will see you more than $60,000 worse off. Better still if you can go without some luxuries there’s always the base iMax that comes in at $43,900 before on-roads.
Fuel economy is rated at 8.8L/100km but as you’ll see in my video review, I had no idea where to locate that figure. I haven’t read a vehicle’s manual for a very long time, that tradition is clearly still the case. I’d suggest in a real-world situation it may hover closer to 11L/100km, which is still pretty tidy.
In terms of features there are the eight cream leather seats, two sunroofs which my three-year-old found astounding. The touchscreen is a mere 7.0-inch but is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. The front seats are ventilated plus the glovebox is cooled via the air-conditioning system.
I should add the iMax is no spring chicken, being around 10 years old now. Despite various updates the one area that is of concern is the basic safety features.
When I went looking for ANCAP ratings I discovered that it scored a four-star rating IN 2009! It only has four airbags for those in the front, that leaves six people without protection. The HiAce based Granvia scores five-stars, as it should for a new vehicle.
That alone would turn me off the iMax.
The Hyundai iMax is backed by the usual five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing will see you heading back to the dealer every year or 15,000km. I like the fact Hyundai offers prepaid capped price servicing. Going by the brand’s website, that would be either $1083 for three years right through to $1958 for five years.
There’s nothing to see here. In fact, it has one USB port, an auxiliary jack and a 12V ciggie lighter. That’s it.
What I Love
The Hyundai iMax Elite can easily take eight large adults. There are plenty of storage areas and drink holders. I love the all-round visibility and the double-sided sliding doors. Plus, life is grand when you have arm rests up front.
Bowen’s report card
The Hyundai iMax Elite is a value proposition for a rather niche market. It would make a great airport shuttle, although it feels like the last people to fly were the Wright brothers these days. I could see church groups snapping these up, or large combined families. Don’t underestimate the iMax, it does have a lot going for it. But given its vintage and the lack of up to day safety features I have to give the Hyundai iMax Elite 72 out of 100.