July 6, 2012
Hyundai Getz was one of the first cars from the South Korean maker to be designed with the European market in mind. So the Getz has a tall-and-chunky, cab-forward Euro look. The added height makes for more interior room as the occupants sit more upright, but still with good headroom.
There is plenty of space in the front seats for a pair of full-sized Aussie adults, the legroom in the rear is limited, but that’s hardly unusual in this class of car. There are large rubber protection strips on the doors and bumper corners to protect it from the rough and tumble life of being parked on the street in European cities.
Getz is sold with three or five doors, with most buyers opting for the added convenience of back doors. The boot is reasonably large for such a small car. There's the usual split-folding rear-seat backrest to further increase carrying capacity.
The Korean baby car arrived in Australia in September 2002. Sales were fairly slow to start with as the Getz was relatively expensive. It wasn’t a direct replacement for the big selling Hyundai Excel and wasn’t selling at the rock bottom prices to which buyers had become accustomed from that car.
Some earlier imports of the Getz had air conditioning as an extra cost option to try and keep the price down. Hyundai soon realised this wasn’t acceptable to demanding Australian buyers and made it standard on all new models. So don’t assume that air is fitted.
The first imports had a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine but from March 2003, Getz was offered with a smaller 1.3-litre unit. To keep performance reasonable this engine was mated to a gearbox with lower ratios than the 1.5-litre, so performance was similar off the line and when overtaking. On the open road the 1.3-litre Getz can sound a bit busy in the engine, but this car really isn’t aimed at long country trips so that’s not really a criticism.
Also in early 2003, the price of the Getz was trimmed, using the smaller engine as an excuse to do so and sales really started to take off at this time. Meaning there are plenty on the used-car market at any one time, so use this to your advantage by searching amongst the many on offer to get the best of the bunch.
Be aware that many of these little Hyundais began their lives as rental cars. There are pluses and minuses: servicing will usually have been done by professionals and on time. On the downside, some have thrashed and/or crashed. The rental car sticker will probably have been removed from the back window. Look for a Getz with a lot of kilometres on the clock.
Hyundai uprated the engine range as part of an overall upgrade of the Getz in October 2005. This time both capacities were increased; to 1.4 and 1.6 litres. At the same time the car received a facelift and tail tuck to give a neater look, though some missed the cheeky nature of the early models and actually prefer them on the used-car market.
Transmission options are five-speed manual and four-speed automatic throughout the range. The auto does cause a noticeable loss of performance, but we have felt worse. The automatic transmission also increases petrol consumption, so is probably better suited to owners stuck with heavy-duty commuting.
There are plenty of Hyundai dealers in this country. Though they tend to be gathered in the major metro areas there's a fair representation in the bush due to them often being used as rental cars, which may see them being taken into country areas.
Spare parts prices are about average for this class, meaning they are generally reasonable. We hear of few real complaints about parts being hard to get, though it can take a day or two for them to arrive if you live away from the beaten track.
The makeup of the Getz is simple and a good home mechanic can do a lot of the routine work. It’s always best if safety related items are left to the professional. And it’s wise to buy a workshop manual for the car before attempting anything other than basic work.
Insurance charges are usually in the low-medium range and don’t seem to vary much between the major insurers. It still pays to shop around, though. As always, make sure you’re comparing apples with apples when getting prices.
Getz benefits from Hyundai’s long five-year, 130,000 kilometre warranty. That warranty should transfer to you when you buy a used one. If in doubt, contact Hyundai directly for details.
Beware the ex-rental car that’s been fanged by uncaring drivers. The chances are the sticker advertising the rental company has been taken off the back window so look for a lot of kilometres on the clock.
Scrapes on the corners of the bumpers are another sign of misuse, as are scars on the front wheel rims. An engine that smokes when worked hard and/or is hard to start when cold could be due for an overhaul.
Gearboxes that crunch when you change down fast could likewise be due for major repairs. The oft-used three-two change is usually the first to suffer.
Body damage, or repaired panels, could be a problem. Check by looking for paint that doesn’t quite match from panel to panel, for paint on bits that shouldn’t have it such as glass, badges or rubber seals. Sight along panels for signs of a ripple finish.
Uneven tyre wear, especially at the front, can indicate hard driving. Or it may be that the suspension is out of alignment, probably because a wheel has thumped a kerb.
Check for excessive wear and tear inside the Getz cabin. Don’t forget the boot in case it has been used to cart rough and/or bulky items. Look at the paint on the top of the back bumper as it can get damaged by careless boot loading.
Before launching into a detailed inspection take a walk around the car and a quick look inside so you spot obvious defects.