Coupé, that’s what VicRoads classes my Hyundai Getz as. Now, when you think of coupé, you immediately identify it with adjectives like sweeping lines, flowing, smooth, exhilarating, speed, or at least the sensation thereof. The reality of the Getz couldn’t be more contrasting. Don’t get me wrong, the cab-forward design and boxy hatchback styling is, dare I say, handsome and somehow appealing and sits very comfortably in its Small Car segment, but flowing, exhilarating and sweeping it is not. Instead you’re greeted with an unpretentious 3-door layout with a tall roof that ingests regular-sized adults up front with ease, while cosseting them in the rear where leg room is surprisingly generous.
Plagued by a not unsubstantiated reputation for producing bland, low rent vehicles destined to be the butt of jokes for all eternity, Hyundai sought to change their fortunes by designing the Getz for the European market in the hope that it will win their affections. And it shows. No-one makes fun of Hyundai’s anymore.
Beating the likes of Honda’s Jazz, VW’s Polo, Mazda’s 2 to the podium to be crowned Australia’s Best Small Car in 2003 is a testament to its design, function, on-road dynamics and value-for-money.
Where the Getz shines is in its reasonable simplicity. It is a no-fuss, no-frills (some early 2002 models didn’t even have air conditioning as standard!), hassle-free, solid and reliable little car that does what it says on the box. The power from the 1.5 litre engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission is enough to label it as a peppy city car that leaves enough time between fill-ups for it to be considered enjoyable and economical.
Getting behind the wheel, one immediately notices just how far forward the dash goes, a product of the cab-forward design, which gives the impression of a much larger vehicle that disproves the exterior dimensions. The dash, made from quality plastics, is a simple layout that includes the usual medley of knobs, buttons and dials that operate the security code-enabled 4-speaker stereo system and air conditioning. The instrument panel is well illuminated, easy to read, especially after finding the near-perfect seating position assisted by the height-adjustable steering wheel, and is well laid-out making it an agreeable place to be. The 50/50 split rear seat-backs are very easy to fold down and offers a surprisingly large capacity cargo space when fully folded. But if you’re considering transporting IKEA’s very popular “Billy” Bookcase you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Firing up the quiet engine does not immediately open the floodgates that releases Serotonin and Dopamine into your bloodstream, thus sending you wild with excitement at the imminent drive. No. Instead, you will feel safe and comfortable in the knowledge that you will get from Point A to Point B with a purposeful just-get-it-done attitude. The ride is comfortable. Precisely what you’d expect from a car in this class. You point it in the direction you want it to go, and it just does it, with little fanfare, little fuss. It does have some get up and go when pushed and will bring a smile to your face just at the limit during cornering, but that’s about all. It does tend to wallow and sometimes feels it will go airborne at freeway speeds though. Around town, it is an absolute gem. It’s extremely easy to park and has the added advantage of being able to fit into almost any parking spot due to its diminutive size.
It’s proven to be a very reliable car. It is so simply engineered that any good home mechanic can perform most basic maintenance without much problems. Running costs are excellent. The original battery on this particular car lasted 9 whole years before it needed replacing!
If easy, reliable, value-for-money, affordable, spacious interior, fuss-free are on your requirements list, then look no further than the Hyundai Getz. It is able to transport a family of four with absolute aplomb, carry a week’s worth of groceries in its boot with ease, is comfortable, is reliable and do it in an unhurried manner day after day, after day. It will serve you well in the role of everyday commuter and weekend runabout.
It is just easy to live with in every respect!