Hyundai Getz Three-Door Test

Aging but still an attractive buy

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Body and interior starting to show age
  • Well packaged and practical
  • Revvy 1.4-litre engine
  • Impressive warranty
  • Well priced

The compact hatch segment has changed rapidly in the last few years but there’s one thing that has remained constant. Since we first sampled the Hyundai Getz in early 2003 (New Car Test - Hyundai Getz), its strengths – excellent packaging, impressive features and low price – remain drawcards.

Inevitably, three and a half years after its Australian release, the Getz no longer has the feel of a completely fresh design. Some of the styling (despite a recent facelift) looks like last year and there are obvious add-ons that are part of ongoing updates. No, it’s not perfect but from AUD$13,490 for the three-door 1.4-litre manual (as tested), it’s a very competitive package. Just look at some of the latest sales figures.

The base Getz three-door comes powered by an ‘Alpha’ 1.4-litre DOHC four which offers pretty decent outputs (a 1.6-litre engine is available at extra cost). Its 70kW at 6000 rpm and 126Nm at 3200 rpm outdo the base Toyota Yaris and compare closely with other rivals. But it’s hardly a hot hatch. In city traffic, the Getz needs to be rowed through the gears to keep pace with other cars. Fortunately, the little 1.4-litre is revvy delight and the short ratio five-speed gearbox is a sweetie. Fuel consumption is impressive even when driven quite hard – we recorded an average of 8.6-litres per 100km in mainly city/urban conditions. Hyundai claims 6.1-litres per 100km in ADR 81/01 testing.

Ride quality is good even over some of Australia’s worst urban roads, although the rear damping is slightly too soft (the rear sometimes bounces after tackling large bumps). We believe the calibration of the MacPherson front struts and ‘semi-independent’ torsion bar rear suspension has recently been revised. The handling of this 1105kg hatch is predictable and safe with a mild amount of understeer - there are no problems with torque-steer or axle tramping. The brakes also performed fine during our test, but you’ll find cut-price drums at the rear and no ABS. These are available in more up-spec models.

The Getz is a car that’s very easy to step into for the first time and feel at home. The controls are well laid out, the clutch/gear shift is light and the power-assisted steering is direct without being nervous. Our only gripes are the overly firm lumbar support and the short legs/long arm driving position – the steering wheel is not adjustable for reach.

This is a well packaged little car with plenty of space for front and rear passengers. The generous foot space in the rear means you can sit without having your knees up near your ears and there are no problems in terms of headroom – it's ample for people up to around 185cm tall. Hyundai provides adjustable head restraints and retractable seatbelts for five occupants but, really, you’ll struggle to fit in more than four people. The retractable lap-sash centre rear belt (which hangs from the ceiling) is also clumsily integrated.

Interestingly, the Getz gives decent rear occupant space without eating excessively into cargo space. With the rear seats in their upright position, there’s a useable amount of space but the Getz can transform into an impressive load carrier when the 60/40 split rear seat is folded. The backrests fold forward and the lower cushion tumbles against the back of the front seats. Recent changes mean there’s no need to remove any of the head restraints, but folding the rear seat is still quite an awkward and heavy operation. The child restraint anchorages are also fixed to the trailing edge of the cargo area, which can cause problems when the cargo area is filled.

Despite its entry-level status, the Getz 1.4-litre three-door doesn’t feel like its interior has been stripped. The MP3 compatible CD/tuner sound system offers sound quality f-a-r better than you’d expect in its class, there’s front power windows, a leather steering wheel with audio controls, tachometer, dual airbags, remote central locking/security and standard air conditioning. The trim materials are quite tasteful, there are plenty of storage facilities and the flush-closing ventilation outlets are a neat touch. Unfortunately, the dashboard looks very staid and dated.

Speaking of looking dated, the Getz now appears long in the tooth when parked next to a new Swift or Yaris. But it is inoffensive. The body has received a recent update (comprising new nose, bumpers, taillights and wheel trims) and the three-door comes with standard 14 inch steel wheels.

Given its AUD$13,490 RRP, the entry-level Hyundai Getz is reasonably well built, however our test car had leather peeling from the steering wheel and a slight gearbox noise when cruising at 70 km/h in top gear. But you can take confidence in Hyundai’s special five year/unlimited kilometre warranty which is offered until the end of February (after which you get five year/130,000km coverage).

An excellent warranty combined with intelligent packaging, a good equipment list and a low price should ensure the Getz will continue strong sales for a few more years yet.

The Getz three-door was provided for this test by Hyundai Australia.

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