Toyota Yaris 2006 Review
Yaris is a much better car than Echo ever was but the hatches styling is confronting to some. Enter...
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These are the smallest and cheapest cars, priced from a mere $13,490, with engines as small as 1.3 litres and baby-sized bodies.
Hyundai helped create the class with its original $15,000 Excel, now superseded by the funky little Getz and ageing Accent. It is still a powerhouse, though GM Holden has tapped its own South Korean connection and is doing big business with its new value-priced Barina hatch and sedan.
The Getz is now second in the segment, romping along behind the pace-setting Toyota Yaris and comfortably ahead of the Holden Barina and Suzuki Swift.
Sales numbers for March are 2079 for the Yaris, 1716 for the Getz, 1367 for the Barina and 1073 for the Swift.
And the year-to-date figures show Australians bought 27,027 light cars in the first quarter of this year, 11.5 per cent more than in the first quarter of 2005.
But Hyundai is not sitting on its Getz and Accent hand. It has introduced a Getz hero car as part of a major update and is preparing a new Accent for the second half of the year.
The Getz SXi is the new star, though its $16,490 price puts it well above the $14,490 bottom line of the starter car, which has a 1.4-litre engine. All Getz models have more safety features, an upgraded cabin and smoother nose.
Engines sizes have grown from 1.3-litres and 1.5 litres to 1.4 and 1.6, and Hyundai says its Alpha design now gives more power and torque with improved economy.
It is putting more emphasis on the 1.6-litre models in the range, which also have anti-skid brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and active front head restraints.
Hyundai is also pushing its "Getz Protectz" pack: electronic stability program, traction control and side airbags for $1290.
But the Getz is still pretty much as it was when it arrived in Australia four years ago — a city-focused youth car. This explains why it is available only as a three or five-door hatch.
Sedan buyers can take the Accent, which is seen as the car for older customers.
The youth push with the Getz ranges from its styling to small things such as MP3-compatible CD sound.
The SXi has alloy wheels, a small rear spoiler and fog lamps.
The baby Getz has always been good, but never great. Our first drive, four years ago, showed Hyundai had the right style to lure younger buyers who had moved away from the Accent after enjoying the Excel, but the car was let down by a basic chassis and a cabin stuck in the South Korean time warp.
Not much has changed this year. The Getz still looks good, we love the safety focus, the new nose is less boxy, but the car is still not close to the class leaders on driving refinement or cabin quality.
Plenty of people will be lured by the $13,490 starter price, and we would definitely take the Getz over the new Barina hatch, but it is way behind the enjoyable Ford Fiesta, refined Toyota Yaris and the sporty Suzuki Swift.
We have seen a lot of improvement in Hyundai quality in the Elantra and impressive new Sonata, but not the Getz.
The plastics look and feel cheap, the interior fit-and-finish work is nowhere near a Yaris.
We were also disappointed by the car's lumpy ride and board-hard, unsupportive seats.
Our test car was an SXi and it looked good, with the bright red splashes through the cabin and the five-blade alloy wheels. The alloy-look on the trim also lifted the cabin and baby car braggers will like the spoiler and fog lamps.
The latest 1.6-litre engine is surprisingly strong, pulling from just above idle with good torque. It runs flat beyond 5500 revs, which has been a characteristic of most Hyundai motors, but gives the car fairly lively performance with good economy.
The five-speed manual shift is good, and considerably better than the Kia Rio which is up against it with the same running gear.
We like the anti-skid brakes and electronic brakeforce system, which will make a large difference to safety, and believe that Getz buyers should go all the way with the Protectz pack with stability control.
But we would also like to see Hyundai's engineers do some more work on the suspension, which is still too bouncy and mismatched front to rear.
It doesn't take much of a bump to set it rocking and the company can do better, as we know from the Elantra.
Hyundai is not making a big prediction for SXi sales but believes the car will be a good bait for the brand at a time when the competition has never been tougher.
It will definitely draw people, but they are more likely to go for a Getz starter car than the SXi if they shop and drive it against a Fiesta, Yaris or Swift, which still have a big break over the South Korean baby.
The Getz is good value, and Hyundai is doing an excellent job pushing baby-car safety, but it still trails the class leaders.
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