A Getz SXI. Who knew they made a “sporty” model. Don’t be jealous now.
I recently handed it over to my sister as a runabout, the little Getz was a great idea at the time, but in reality didn’t work out. It was purchased about 12 months ago at 180,000kms to provide cheap transport for my 100km daily work commute while the other vehicle I owned (HSV Avalanche XUV) stayed home waiting for the weekend. It was one owner, always serviced, drove like a new one (maybe).
It’s modern no nonsense features, excellent fuel economy (I averaged 6.2l/100km during my time with it and I rarely drove it gently), perfect reliability and nippy little 1.6 with a decent 5 speed box had it ticking all the boxes.
Air con was efficient, heater excellent, head unit was easily swapped to a modern Bluetooth unit and the four factory speakers did ok. Let downs were average headlights, wipers frustratingly slow and what could be the worst seats I’ve experienced, but more about that later.
Controls, dash etc were all standard fare and worked fine, though the temperature gauge being replaced on this later model with just a warning light for when it’s too late isn’t something I’m in favour of, nor the placement of the remote locking button on the side of the ignition key head that made it easy to accidentally activate when walking away. The odometer and heater control backlighting needed a couple of replacement globes which were relatively easy to replace with new ones for a couple of bucks.
Being the SXI model, it came with spunky little alloys (which on reflection look suspiciously like miniature versions a VX SS commodore has), fog lights, leather steering wheel, red upholstery on the seats, flashes of silver on the dash and doors and a little wee roof spoiler with LED brake light. Oh and a luggage net. Because what is a sporty model without a way to hold down your luggage. Either way, at least it made it a smidge more of a looker than the standard models that are on the roads here in Perth en-masse.
Unfortunately, there were no changes to the suspension, and even with decent quality tyres, she was a determined understeerer. Safe yes, but fun- not at all. Steering and ride were perfectly fine for a student or nanna wanting no frills A to B transport, but I prefer something a little more engaging. Realising that my 2 tonne dual cab avalanche could corner quicker and with more panache was an unwelcome surprise – I expected go-kart abilities! A quick nip about in a friends similar age Ford Fiesta did confirm that this type of handling was available though, I just had the wrong car.
Keeping up with traffic was no issue though, I even won a race against a Nissan Micra - Small things. Highway cruising was smooth and quiet though crosswinds did move it about a little. Road and wind noise was well suppressed.
Even the little 1.6 while being grunty enough and smooth (once the driver's side engine mount was replaced - apparently a common failure but hell, it had some miles on it) wasn’t very inspiring. Economical and flexible for sure and it hit the well judged cut-out with gusto numerous times, just don’t expect to enjoy the sounds of it.
Brakes on the other hand were arresting – 4 wheel discs with ABS and decent feel. Reliability was also perfect – nothing broke, nothing fell off, just normal servicing. 230,000k on the clock last I checked and still going strong. Sends a strong message for regular servicing and care.
By far the worst feature though, and the reason I passed it on, was the seats. Horrific. I’ve sat on more comfortable tree branches. I saved money on fuel for sure, but spent it again getting massages and trying to work out why I could never get comfortable driving it (I’m 180cm standard build Australian). I’ve never found a car uncomfortable so this was the ultimate disappointment. Sure it had cushion tilt, but with no lumbar adjustment and no reach adjustment on the steering wheel, the seats being firm and unforgiving, I spent my driving time fiddling about trying to find the ideal position. Never did find it. That and hoping no one I knew saw me as my last four cars have all been large V8's. Lack of centre console armrest also contributed I’m sure as the old shoulder (I'm 36 now) would ache after twenty minutes.
As a strange replacement, I purchased a used VZ Calais V6 and while the economy is worse (avg 10l/100 around town), I no longer have the back aches and the comfort (and well, street cred) is worth every cent as far as I’m concerned. V6 and 5 speed auto are also a nice change from the daily rowing through the gears of the Getz, though I digress.
If you want a simple car for uni, work or just getting about that’s cheap to run and insure, reliable and relatively well equipped, then they are worth a look. Just go for a decent drive to make sure you can survive the seats first.