Hyundai Getz Diesel 2004 Road Test

Sat, 24 Apr 2004

The Hyundai Gets 1.5 diesel is pretty enough. Quite well designed. Very well received. But I’d better put my cards on the table straight away, this is not my type of car.

Now I’m going to heap praise on it from the point of view of the sort of people I think it will appeal to.

Even though it lacks fashionable style, it is a good looking little car. It’s well packaged too, with excellent space utilisation that crams a quart into a pint pot.

The front is roomy. The seats adjust properly. The steering wheel goes up and down. Everything is within easy reach. You just have to get used to the South Korean positioning of the indicator switch to the right of the steering wheel.

Things are pretty good in the back seat, too. It’s a 2 + 1 back seat rather than a 3, even though there are three proper three- point seatbelts. But legroom is okay. There’s a handbag hook on the back of the passenger seat. And the rear backrests recline, making a huge difference to rear seat comfort on a long run.

Then we come to the trunk, which is so deep it looks like a lift-shaft. The floor is such a distance down you wonder what Hyundai has done for an emergency wheel. But lift the carpet and you find a full-sized one. The fuel tank is tucked safely away under the rear seats. And the seats themselves tumble-fold, leaving a flat floor for a small dog to romp around on (when the car isn’t moving, of course).

All plus points so far. But this is the diesel version and as soon as you turn the key Bob the Builder and his mate start shaking buckets of nails under the bonnet. It’s very, very noisy, so you try to turn the radio up to absorb the din and find it’s a cheapo DIN fit single CD jobbie with difficult to deciper buttons and a removable front three times as big as the average mobile phone. So if it’s removed it gets left in the car, which is pointless. Also, there’s no aircon or sunroof on the GSI.

And the interior stinks. I mean literally stinks. Must be the plastics, but the pong is awful. Not like something crawled in there and died. Just a really revolting smell that nobbles your nostrils whenever you enter the car.

Sorry, I had to have a go at something.

Get going and, like an advanced driver, you may not want to shift up out of 3rd in a 30 limit. The engine is okay for a mere 1.5 diesel, but doesn’t have much to offer under 2,000rpm. Don’t worry about the slow 0-60 figure, though, because once you find where the power is you can get a move on.

Out on the open road you can trundle along reasonably rapidly at between 2,000 and 3,000 rpm, which gives you a speed range from around 55mph to around 85. And, since that’s where it’s happiest, you at least have a bit of grunt where you need it on the motorway.

Come to a corner and it’s not all panic stations. The power steering is a sensible compromise between lightness and feel and, while the car is not set up to grip like a go kart, it handles and holds the road quite well. Certainly far beyond the expectations of the average pensioner.

And that’s really where the car is at. Its appeal is to sensible, older people, long past the age when style is all important, who want nothing more than a sensibly priced, comfortable, practical, economical car that offers them all they need and won’t go wrong.

Which is where Hyundai comes up with its clincher: not a three year warranty like everyone else’s, but a full five year warranty. Making it a car that will probably outlast many of its owners.

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