Hyundai Getz 1,4 GL (2006) Driving Impression

Hyundai Getz 2006

Although the rise of Hyundai has been gathering pace almost since the very first Elantras started reaching South Africa’s shores, two models can really be credited with changing perceptions and boosting sales volumes beyond expectations. The first, the Tucson, has become quite a desirable little crossover, and sells in large numbers. The second is the Hyundai Getz compact hatchback, a product which, with its honesty, quality and decent specification has quickly found favour with South Africans shopping at the lower end of the market. Now revised and boasting a new entry level engine, does the Hyundai Getz still cut the mustard against a growing crop of lightweights?

Subtle styling tweaks for Hyundai Getz

The Hyundai Getz has never been a design marvel, eschewing flamboyance for a straight-cut, no-nonsense look that is actually refreshing in its simplicity. Perhaps surprisingly, its lack of flair has not hampered it in the marketplace. As far as mid-life facelifts go, the Getz’s has been relatively minor. The front-end, with its new grille and headlamps is slightly curvier than before and there are minor detail changes to the rear, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice those. Overall, one senses that the facelift attempts to answer styling questions that nobody had really asked… That said, the Hyundai Getz looks appreciably upmarket even though it rides on skinny plastic-capped 14-inch steel wheels. The comprehensive colour coding (extending to the side mirror housings) and front foglamps play a big part in this.

The interior changes are similarly subtle. As with the original exterior, the facia design-theme doesn’t feature any curves, but it nevertheless looks attractive. The biggest change is the fact that the revised instrument cluster now features a rev counter. One of the Getz’s big attractions has always been the perceived quality offered by the interior. In short, this doesn’t feel like an entry level product – the quality of materials is good, and so are the fit and finish. Small touches such as cloth padding on the doors go a long way… The only jarring note, really, is that an aftermarket audio system is likely to clash with the overall conservatism of the facia.

Compromised accommodation

Unlike the similarly sized Honda Jazz which hides its petrol tank under the front seats and can consequently offer very clever rear seats, the Hyundai Getz doesn’t feature any clever packaging tricks. As a result, and also as a consequence of a relatively short wheelbase, the Getz isn’t quite as practical as its boxy looks may lead you to think. The driving position is elevated and the footwell isn’t deep, so one tends to move the seat back quite far. This highlights the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel, and also compromises rear passenger space, which will be too tight for some families. The boot, too, is rather small, but at least there’s a full-size spare wheel.

At the price, however, the standard specification goes a long way to making up for the Getz’s packaging concerns. A radio is optional, but air-conditioning, electric windows all-round, central locking and power steering are all part of the deal. Unfortunately, the Hyundai Getz lacks ABS but at least there’s a driver’s airbag.

New motivation

Of course, the biggest change has taken place under the bonnet, with a new 1,4-litre engine replacing the previously used 1,3. The new engine doesn’t only offer an increased capacity, but also four-valves-per-cylinder, compared with the three of before, as well as an extra camshaft. This far more modern unit therefore provides not only more power and torque (71 kW and 125 Nm), but also better refinement and excellent economy. It’s a thoroughly high-tech unit at this side of the price scale. The engine is mated with a five-speed manual transmission that is similarly rubbery in its shift action to other Hyundai/Kia gearboxes.

With its new heart, the Hyundai Getz feels significantly livelier than before, subjectively feeling nippier than even Hyundai’s performance claims suggest. The power delivery is smooth and linear, too, and contributes to the overall feeling of being inside a more expensive vehicle than it really is. Hyundai claims a combined cycle fuel economy figure of 7,9 litres/100 km which is quite high, but at least realistic. Careful drivers should be able to match this.

Beyond the engine, Hyundai has not fiddled too much with the underpinnings. The steering is still hydraulically power assisted and consequently provides good feel and accuracy. The braking system still makes use of drums at the rear and there’s no ABS, so is not the most confidence-inspiring. And the ride is on the firm side at low speed, but smoothes out considerably when driving faster. Wind-, road- and mechanical noise are well-suppressed. Overall, the Hyundai Getz is an enjoyable, economical daily driver.

Hyundai Getz - Verdict

Hyundai has wisely not fiddled too much with a winning recipe. The Hyundai Getz remains the solid, honest and capable city car it has always been, but now just offers a better performance/economy balance and some extra refinement. It’s certainly not perfect (the driving position and interior packaging could easily be improved) but at the price it is hard to beat this car’s overall package, particularly when taking into account that Hyundai Getz owners appear to be a very happy bunch – apparently these cars almost never go wrong.

We like:

  • Build quality
  • Performance/economy balance
  • Upmarket interior
We don’t like:
  • Small boot
  • No ABS
Fast facts

Engine: 1,4-litre, four-cylinder, petrol

Power: 71 kW @ 6 000 rpm

Torque: 125 Nm @ 3 200 rpm

Transmission: Five-speed manual

Wheels: 14-inch steel

Top speed: 174 km/h

0-100 km/h: 11,2 seconds

Fuel economy: 7,9 litres/100 km


Also consider:

  • Ford Fiesta 1,4i: Lacks the Hyundai’s standard specification and can’t match its power, either, but the Ford is an attractive option, with smart looks and a lovely ride/handling balance.
  • Daihatsu Sirion 1,3 CX: Remains a strong proposition mostly due to its spacious cabin (albeit at the cost of boot space). Also offers a very comprehensive standards specification list.
  • Renault Clio 1,2 VaVaVoom: The Clio may offer significantly less powerful, but it doesn’t feel noticeably underpowered. Boasts comprehensive standard specification and is an enjoyable drive.