Mobility for More

If there’s one industry out of the many industries that took a big hit over the last three years, it’s tourism. Travel restrictions haven’t been easy to deal with by one of the country’s largest genuine income generators.

Now it’s set to bounce back and be stronger than ever. Many locals are experiencing visitors coming back and many establishments are preparing to welcome even more tourists than ever. But mobility is still a challenge, and pretty soon a van won’t be enough to ferry tourists from the airport to the hotel, or take them around sightseeing on any of our seven thousand islands.

That’s where a vehicle like the 2023 County New Breeze comes in from Hyundai Truck and Bus.

Size-wise, this isn’t a big bus like you’d see in the fleets of big companies plying provincial routes nor is it as small as a van or minibus. This is in between those two to give you nearly double the capacity of most vans with space to spare for luggage, but not so big as a bus to be difficult to maneuver around our narrow streets and hotel or resort driveways. The direct competitors of this one would be the Toyota Coaster as well as the Fuso Rosa.

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Just looking at the County New Breeze, it’s easy to tell why it’s a good fit for the recovery of the tourism sector especially with the big windows so you won’t miss a sight on the road. The bus looks very modern and has a classy aesthetic. The County is actually an already proven vehicle for Hyundai Truck and Bus and has been updated with a new look that begins with the honeycomb grille, new headlights with LED position lamps, projector fog lamps, and a new bumper.

Bus Review: Hyundai County New Breeze image

Whichever version you’re interested in, the County New Breeze is a reliable performer. It all starts with the chassis, which uses steel from one of the world’s biggest: Hyundai Steel. Yes, Hyundai is huge when it comes to cars, steel, and ships. But the key here is the relationship with a steel manufacturer, as they can take advantage of having good solid steel manufactured to the high standards they set. So they make sure the box-type frame is stable, rigid, and tested for safety, and that the body is fully resistant to rust with the electrostatic coating.

Getting inside is via the automatic side door; it can also be operated manually if need be, but where’s the fun in that? Once inside, there’s an aisle with jump seats that expand the capacity of the vehicle. Hyundai Truck and Bus is offering two distinct sizes for the County New Breeze depending on the mobility needs of your business.

Bus Review: Hyundai County New Breeze image

The one here is the standard version known as the Long Body (LB) with standard seats for a total capacity of 29 passengers plus the driver. That’s already the regular version, and it’s already topping out at 7.11 meters in length. There’s an Extra Long Body (ELB) version that’s 600mm longer, and with standard seats, the capacity is 32 passengers plus the driver. There’s another version of the ELB with more comfortable reclining seats and extra legroom which has a passenger capacity of 29 plus the driver.

There’s an overhead tray with ample space for all kinds of bags like backpacks and duffels, and there’s also space underneath the seats for more stuff if need be. Actually, there’s also a boot in the back for larger items. What the passengers will enjoy, however, is the availability of overhead A/C vents for comfort, along with light for those that like to read on the go.

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For the driver, getting in is via a separate door in front. The steering is very bus-like with the wheel canted towards the horizontal, but seems very manageable. It’s also tilt and telescopic adjustable, so it’s perfect if you have drivers in your employ that are of varying heights and weights. The design of the wheel is also reminiscent of other Hyundai models (e.g. the older generation Tucson) with good grip and texture. This is a manual so you have the conventional pedal layout along with a manual gearstick. If you’re used to driving a car with a manual, then you’ll have to keep in mind that the slot where 1st gear would be is actually reverse. The actual first gear is where second would be, second is where third would be, so on and so forth.

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Normally manufacturers don’t take the time and spend the effort to design or engineer a nice dashboard for the driver, but clearly, that isn’t the case here. The dashboard is very driver-oriented and is very well laid out with the controls neatly and logically arranged with switches on the left of the steering column arefor drive functions (e.g. engine choke) and the horizontal panel in the middle for other cabin features (e.g. lights).

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What is pretty interesting is the audio system. It has the usual like a CD slot, MP3 playback, USB and the radio, but what’s different is the presence of a mic socket. Remember: it’s a tourist-style bus so you can plug in a mic so the tour guide can brief guests on what they’re seeing. If this is used by a school, then it would be for the chaperone to manage the behavior of the kids.  You can even conceivably use it for karaoke; your choice.

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If you as the manager or even CEO have to drive the County New Breeze for whatever reason (and if you have the proper license qualification) then you’ll actually find it to be an easy drive. The steering for such a big vehicle is light; the power steering is very effective. The clutch is also light and easy to use. The gearshifts are quite positive once you get the hang of the gear layout. It’s easy to really drive smoothly given the good controls.

Powering all variants of County New Breeze is a 3.9-liter turbodiesel engine with a 5-speed manual that drives the 4 wheels in the back; yes, this is a 6-wheeler bus. What’s different is that there are two different specifications for the engine. In this LB with the 29+1 standard seats the engine makes 140 PS and 372.6 Nm of torque; that engine is also shared with the ELB with the reclining seats. The ELB with the 32+1 standard seats has the extra performance with 150 PS and 578.6 Nm of torque.

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While having the extra performance would be fun, it’s not necessary for the LB 29+1. Driving it around even with 10 pax inside, it felt light and eager to accelerate. Perhaps the more remarkable bit is the refinement, particularly with the low levels of noise that get into the cabin from the engine, tires, and the outside world. More importantly, your passengers will enjoy the cool temperatures because of that big A/C unit on the roof that isn’t even fazed by the summer heat and the fact that the vehicle doesn’t have tint.

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If you’re in a business that requires mobility that can’t be accomplished by one van, then the County New Breeze is a great bus to evaluate for your needs.