When it comes to vans, nobody really buys one because it's the cool thing to do. For the most part, people buy them for practical purposes, and not much else. But just because vans are built for purpose, it doesn't mean they can't be cool. Here are a few prime examples.
What, exactly, is going on in the Hyundai design office at the moment? The Ioniq 5 looks great, the Ioniq 6 is truly mad and beyond weird, and the Tucson is the most interesting looking SUV on sale today.
But it’s certainly not the coolest boxy Hyundai. No, that honour belongs to this: the Staria. Yes, it’s a minivan, but it’s as streamlined as a Japanese bullet train, as minimalist as a vegan’s lunch and has a certain Darth Vadar menace about it.
Hyundai iMax (Starex) N
A ‘drift van’ is an idea not even Hollywood dreamt up for the third instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise. So, Hyundai Australia went and did it instead, by taking an eight-seater van and chucking in a 400hp, 3.5-liter bi-turbo V6. It’s rear wheel drive, and set up to powerslide.
Okay, so it’s a one-off. And it’s not actually road-legal any more. But we’re sure these trifling inconveniences could be worked around, if enough people declare they want one. Anyone?
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This is a normal production minivan. We’re not about to tell you that buried deep within it lies the shrieking V10 from a Lexus LFA, or the V6 twin-turbo from a Toyota Land Cruiser. The powertrain is unremarkable. So is the handling. This is not a van of improbable engineering. No, it’s here because, well, just LOOK at it. What a face!
Inside there’s reclining seats and an optional TV, but the Lexus ‘Luxury Mover’ is surely the van with the most attitude since The A Team’s company car.
Here’s a cool EV van that you can actually buy (if you're based in Europe, that is). The all-electric Buzz is just so much less bolshy and threatening than an SUV. More space-efficient inside too. But with prices kicking off at not far south of £60,000 (or P3,971,160 at current conversion rates), it’s hardly going to be a ‘people’s van’, is it?
Renault Espace F1
A Renault family van good for 0-100kph in 2.8 seconds. Gran Turismo 2 fans know what we're talking about. It's the Espace F1 with a 800hp 3.5-liter V10 where the middle of the second row of seats should be.
Ah yes, this is another glorious chapter from the big book of overbudgeted PR stunts. To celebrate a decade of Espace production, Renault handed French carmaker Matra a big chest of francs and had them build a fully functional 13,800rpm, 310kph MPV. These days it lives out its retirement in the Matra museum, where confused children point at it and say ‘what’s a Renault Espace?’
This story first appeared in TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made