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Mike Stevens | Mar 28, 2009 | 5 Comments

When the smallest Hyundai in the Aussie market first hit showrooms in 2002, it represented a significant change in the Korean carmaker’s approach to the western market.

While previous models had been designed with Europe, the US and Australia in mind, they were the products of a Korean perspective on the rest of the world - and Korean design tastes.

The Getz, then, is more than simply a Hyundai ‘supermini’ – it was the first Hyundai designed in a European studio. Created to take on more highly-regarded players and beat them at their own game, the Getz signalled Hyundai’s intentions to escape attempts to pigeonhole the company.

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It was the precursor to the next evolution of Hyundai models – the ones we now see on Aussie roads in the form of the i30 and the Santa Fe.

Overseas, the Hyundai Genesis Sedan and Genesis Coupe are sending shockwaves through the boardrooms of the old establishment, as is the Hyundai i20 – the new hatch which premiered in Australia at the 2009 Melbourne Motor Show and should join the local family later this year.

Mentioning the i20 brings us full circle back to the Getz, with the new i30-inspired hatch due to replace the Getz in the near future.

But before we wave Hyundai’s diminutive hatch goodbye, let’s take one last look.

Styling… getting on, but still with it

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Styling-wise, the Getz has not changed since it copped a revision in 2006. That freshen up was to rejuvenate the little hatch’s appeal and give it the legs to push through until the arrival of it successor later this year.

The changes then were minor: a more curved, modern pair of headlights replaced those of the first series and a wider more-curvaceous grille occupied the space between them. At the rear, a light ‘buttlift’ saw restyled lens covers and tail-light layout.

2009_hyundai-getz_5-door_03

We tested the five-door model, and while its roofline is more 'bus-like' than its slicker-looking three-door sibling – a fate shared by most five-door models with a three-door twin – the Getz’s profile flows respectably nonetheless.

All-in-all, the Getz has aged exceptionally well for a nearly ten-year-old model, a testament to the strength and integrity of its original lines.

Interior… bargain basement, up to the task

The design of the exceptionally spacey interior has remained largely untouched over the model's life, the most obvious updates coming in the form of a new steering wheel – and steering-mounted audio controls – along with a transmission surround that reaches up to join an oh-so-lightly updated centre stack.

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The instrument cluster carries a few small updates, with the remainder being minor changes to the door and seat trims.

While the driver and front passenger seats are anything but sporty – sporty seating (or at least sporting pretensions) being a trend nowadays in even the most mundane of runabouts – they are comfortable if lacking a little bolstering. For the simple A-to-B tasks the Getz is most likely to perform, and even for a long day shuttling around the 'burbs, they do the job well enough.

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The bench-like rear pews remain more-or-less untouched, with again only minor fabric updates to separate them from their forebears.

You’ll seat two adults comfortably in the rear, or three kids of the smaller variety. Rear head room is excellent thanks to that long straight roof, and leg room is livable.

Floor coverings are a bit disappointing, with only a thin cost-saving carpet between feet and floorpan. Proper floor mats can be optioned, but really ought to have been standard.

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The Getz’ audio system is, as you’d expect for its price-point, nothing to email home about. As with most if not all modern car stereos, MP3/WMA playback and Mini-USB/AUX connectivity is included in the slot-in headset, while Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity stands out as a pleasing addition to the feature list.

In what must be fast becoming a minimum acceptable number, six speakers – including tweeters – feature in the cabin, though the sound quality isn’t going to set any hearts on fire. Again, though, the speakers are at the very least adequate and every bit up to the standard expected at this price.


How does it go?

On the road, the Getz offers a roller-skate connectedness to the asphalt that, these days, seems to be increasingly engineered 'out' in almost all cars, large or small.

It’s likely that this is a product of its entry-level positioning - it is a very inexpensive car - and, sure, it can be a little unrefined on some surfaces. But while the passionless will consider that a stroke in the ‘negatives’ column, those who enjoy being a part of the process and don't mind feeling what is happening at the wheels, will enjoy it.

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It's not sporty, but it's not bad either. With light, quite direct steering, it's a breeze around town, a doddle to slip in and out of tight parking spaces, nippy when you need it and very easy to live with.

For trim and engine options, the Getz can be had in a couple of configurations.

The 1.4 litre S is the entry-level model and while it gets most of the mod-cons – all-round power windows, air conditioning, power steering and a few others – it misses out on Electronic Stability Control (ESP), Traction Control System (TCS) and Anti-skid Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).

The 1.6 litre SX gets those, and that’s the model we tested with five-speed manual.

We kept the Getz to a largely sedate life of ferrying our arses to and from the office, and while that’s about the extent of the hard yakka most 'Getzes' will see, we can report that it goes about things with plenty of heart.

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With a surprising punch from the little 78kW 1.6 litre engine, the Getz is a zippy little so-and-so and with a nice 'live' feel to the five-speed transmission. While lacking some of the refinement of bigger (and more expensive) cars, you can use the 'box to really eek the most out of that engine - it will willingly spin to 6000rpm if asked.

On the highway, especially at the dead-ahead, the light steering feels a little lifeless. It's better though when cornering and sticks surprisingly well. If anything demonstrated the car’s intended life as a city-dweller though, this was it. The Getz is not for long highway runs.

Returning a fuel economy figure of 6.2 l/100km, the Getz is one of the more frugal of fuel-sippers, but not class-leading. It should be noted that when this car first hit the scene, the market wasn’t quite as driven by the litres per 100km as it is now. There are newer, more advanced cars offering better figures, but they’ll set you back quite a bit more at the dealer’s desk, too.

Storage

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The Getz five-door offers huge boot space, thanks largely to its fairly straight roof line and nearly 'square' C-pillar. With the rear seats fixed in position, you’ll find a decent 430 litres of storage space.

Fold down the 60/40 split rear seats into their first position and that space almost triples to 1130 litres, while the double-folded position increases space to its maximum 1240 litres.

Roof racks can be optioned into the deal, but unless you’re planning an interstate trip with three or four passengers, you’ll hardly have reason to bother.

So where does it fit in the scheme of things? The Getz is not as involving a drive as the Fiesta or Mazda2, and lacks some of the on-road refinement of the Yaris.

But, with prices starting at $13,990 for the 1.4 3-door, it holds a considerable price advantage over its most obvious competition. You may be able to squeeze that price advantage even more. Coming near the end of its model life and with Hyundai working like hell on market share, buyers may find some extra negotiating 'space' in the showroom.

It is, as it always was (and why it has been so awarded since its release), good buying in a well thought-out package.

The Final Word

The Getz leans more to the ‘mini’ than the ‘super’ – you’re not going to start thinking about getting up at three in the morning for a blat around the nearest hill. But, that said, it is a ripper of a car, and because of its extremely competitive price and the features you get for your dollar, it’s a car I’ll comfortably recommend to my wee little sister when she turns 18 next month.

That is to say, I think it’s next month.

Gallery

Specifications - 1.6 SX

Engine Transverse front-mounted driving 4-in-line, 16 valve twin overhead cam
Capacity 1.6 L (1599 cc)
Fuel System Multi-point electronic fuel injection / 91 RON ULP
Power 78 kW @ 5800 rpm
Torque 144 Nm @ 3200 rpm
Performance --
Transmission 5 speed manual (tested) / 4 speed electronic HiVec (Hyundai intelligent Vehicle electronic control)
Steering Power assisted rack and pinion with tilt adjustment
Suspension Front: independent MacPherson struts with coil spring and anti-roll stabiliser bar

Rear: semi-independent torsion axle with coil springs

Brakes Dual-diagonal, split circuit, power assisted braking system with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)

Front: ventilated disc brakes

Rear: solid disc brakes

Wheels and Tyres Wheels: 14” × 5.0J steel wheels with full size wheel cover

Tyres: 175 / 65 R14 tyres

Nanny Stuff 4 channel / sensor Anti-skid Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Traction Control System (TCS), Driver and front passenger active “anti-whiplash” head restraints

view full specs list here.

Kerb weight 1103kg
Economy Combined cycle: 6.2 l/100km / Urban: 8.1 l/100km
Price Manual: from $16,340 RRP

Automatic: from $18,340 RRP

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