Getz remains good buying
T he problem with being at the top is that there’s nowhere else to go – except down. Hyundai’s little Getz hatchback led the baby car segment in New Zealand in 2004 but, under the weight of increased competition, slipped to fifth last year with 9.4 percent of the action. The micro/light class is now packed with attractive, well-packaged cars that are right for the time.
In 2005 the new Suzuki Swift burst from oblivion to top the class, outselling the Getz by more than two to one. The runner-up Daihatsu Sirion wasn’t far behind, with Honda’s Jazz trailing some way behind in third. Ford’s Fiesta pipped the Getz by a handful of cars and both have been facelifted in an effort to maintain good sales.
The Getz marked a turning point for Hyundai. Designed in Germany and engineered in Korea, the car is aimed at the European market and it shows. Styling changes in the latest version aren’t major, but the car has been freshened up and the interior is nicer, with better quality plastics and a tidier facia. There’s nothing controversial about Hyundai’s biggest selling car in Europe, and the body shape is contemporary rather than distinctive: it’s about function not form or fashion. Front end shaping is smart and though the profile is conservative, the styling is never likely to offend. Apart from softer nose contours, new headlights, bumpers and changes to the taillights, the revamped TB series Getz looks much the same as before. Its large glass area and good visibility are just what’s needed in a car that spends much of its life in town.
Yet both the new 1.4 and 1.6-litre engines are good performers, unperturbed by the challenges of the open road and longish jaunts. I sampled an entry-level 1.4-litre manual that retails at just on $20,000, and a 1.6-litre higher grade auto which is $3000 dearer. In fact, aside from the mechanical differences and the five-spoke alloy wheels on the auto, the specification levels of the pair are similar.
The 1.4 lacks the 1.6’s front foglights, rear spoiler, leather bound steering wheel, leather gearshift trim, trip computer and luggage separator board, yet is far from spartan.
In least costly form, the Getz still has front and side airbags, the snappy alloy finish trim on the dashboard, rev counter, electric windows and mirrors and remote audio controls on the steering wheel. The twin overhead cam 1.4-litre 16-valve engine produces 70kW at 6000rpm and 125Nm at 3200rpm. It’s a flexible motor, while lacking in low down power, and responds almost as well as the 1.6. That’s a reflection of the lower final drive gearing in the smaller-engined Getz. The motor spins at just under 3000rpm in fifth at 100km/h, compared with a leisurely 2500rpm for the 1.6 with its four-stage auto transmission. The 1.4 scampers to 100km/h in 11.2 seconds and has a top speed of 170km/h, and the performance levels of the 1.6 auto are on par. With 78kW of power at 5800rpm, the 1.6 twin cam is 11 percent more powerful and the 144Nm of torque at 3200rpm is 15 percent higher, comfortably making up for the auto transmission power loss. However, the larger engine isn’t as smooth as the 1.4, and this is a classic case where bigger isn’t always better. Our choice is to go for the 1.4.
You can opt for an auto version of the 1.4 at $20,990, but the larger engine is only available in auto mode. All the Hyundai New Zealand press cars are operating on a blend of bio fuel, but you’d never know if you weren’t told. An easy open road journey in the automatic produced 6.8 litres/100km (41.5mpg), meaning the 45-litre fuel tank is good for 650 kilometres if you drive with a light right foot. Downgrade to the 1.4 and you’ll save even more fuel, with six litres/100km (47.1mpg) an achievable average. The 1.4 uses around 13 percent less petrol than the 1.6, although some of the 1.6’s losses are attributable to the auto transmission. Either way, both new engines are more economical than their predecessors.
Engine noise in each is quite subdued for the class and the conventional auto is usually smooth and fuss-free, unlike some small automatics. There are times when the mechanicals become a touch frantic, especially under pressure. Suspension is strictly middle of the road, comprising MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam rear. The ride is a touch wooden and handing slightly vague, but the Hyundai is safe and predictable enough, despite strong understeer when the car is being driven hard. The assisted steering feels light and uncommunicative, but this is unlikely to deter potential owners. Full marks for the inclusion of rear disc brakes – a feature that outmanoeuvres much of the opposition, which have front disc/rear drum braking. ABS and EBD are standard on both models. Side airbags give the Getz an advantage over many class rivals. The car earnt a four-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests, four stars for child protection and one star for pedestrian protection. All three rear seats are three-point type – a good feature given the recent publicity about the dangers of lap belts.
The Getz is blessed with a well designed interior and excellent dashboard design, with clear, round instruments and good controls. There’s a neat sunglasses holder on the driver’s side and the 1.6 has an easy-to-use computer for fuel consumption, outside air temperature and distance to empty. Rear seat accommodation rates highly for the class, and though the front seats are shapeless, at least they’re reasonably comfortable on longish runs. Overall finish is difficult to fault, and creature comforts run to a luggage net, a carry bag hook on the back of the front passenger seat and an MP3-compatible CD player with six speakers.
When you have a good car, the opposition often spoils it by coming out with something better. But the Getz is still a sound proposition and represents good buying.