Hyundai has entered the supermini market at a time when it is in a transition from being perceived as a budget manufacturer to one that provides value for money. The difference is that budget cars often have a badge you would be embarrassed to be seen with, whereas a brand perceived as value for money has started to skirt around the fringes of respectability.
Why the new car is then lumbered with a name like Getz is a mystery – is it meant to sound dynamic? But we will leave such matters aside for now. With less reliance on the Accent during 2003, the Getz will be the main focus for Hyundai's volume during 2003. With expected sales of 12,000 sales in a tough sector of the market, it will help Hyundai reach a target of more than 30,000 cars in the UK.
From the outside the Getz seems to have the kind of appeal that does well in the supermini sector. It is a neat design, looking similar to the Matrix mini-MPV, but scaled down to a more conventional shape.
For less than £8,000 on-the-road you can have a five-door Getz with an 81bhp 1.3-litre engine, four airbags, ABS with electronic brake force distribution, a CD/radio, electric front windows and central locking.
The interior is a little cheap- looking though. Whereas other manufacturers disguise the harder plastics used inside with bright colours and quirky designs – the Citroen C3, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Micra included – the Getz is all a bit conventional and dark grey, making it too easy to see where the money hasn't been spent.
Having said that, it all seems to fit together well enough and doesn't give any further cause for complaint. The Getz is easy to drive, with a light clutch pedal, gear change and steering. This makes the car simple to manoeuvre into tight car parking spaces and it feels nimble around town.
It's not so user-friendly out on the open road though. When the engine revs pass 3,000rpm, noise becomes intrusive. Apparently, the manual 1.3 is the quietest car in the range, but the engine likes making itself heard.
However, it was a relief to find that wind and road noise seemed well controlled. While the steering is quite direct, with 2.9 turns between the locks, it is devoid of feeling and feedback, needing frequent corrections when holding a line through a bend.
The ride seems to be set up for comfort rather than road-holding. It doesn't take very long down a sweeping B-road before the Getz runs out of grip and leans uncomfortably as Newton's laws take full effect.
Of course, these aspects of performance are not a priority for many supermini drivers, but anyone stepping into the Getz from a new Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, SEAT Ibiza or Vauxhall Corsa will feel rather isolated from what the car is doing.
But the Getz is about providing cheap transport in comfort and it appears to perform that role as well as most other superminis. With the Getz, Hyundai has finally made the leap from budget brand to mainstream marque.
Hyundai Getz 1.3 GSi
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £7,850
CO2 emissions (g/km): 150
BIK % of P11D in 2002/03: 15%
Graduated VED rate: £100
Insurance group: 4
Combined mpg: 45.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £2,375/30%
Depreciation (8.78 pence per mile x 60,000): £5,268
Maintenance (1.95 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,170
Fuel (8.37 pence per mile x 60,000): £5,022
Wholelife cost (19.10 pence per mile x 60,000): £11,460
Typical contract hire rate: £223 per month
Three rivals to consider
THE choice facing our imaginary fleet operator is either to choose a budget five-door supermini or spend a little more for a modern mainstream car which might have less performance and equipment. The Getz is a little pricier at the front end than the Fabia and the Kalos, but comes in comfortably under the price for a new Micra 1.2 S. The Getz, Kalos and Micra have comparable power outputs for this money, but the Fabia is 13bhp short of the 81bhp Getz.
THE Kalos and Micra tie on servicing, maintenance and repair costs, while the Getz and Fabia are close. There is little to choose between them, but despite bringing up the rear, there is much to be said for Hyundai's five-year/ unlimited mileage warranty which must bring peace of mind for customers. Despite its higher list price, the Micra shows that mainstream cars can be just as cheap to keep on the road as budget models.
THE Getz certainly holds its own in fuel costs, coming to within 0.4 pence per mile of the super-efficient new Micra. Time was when buying a car from South Korea meant having to put up with outdated technology, but the Getz lays that myth to rest – only for it to be revived by the Daewoo Kalos which offers in a supermini the same kind of fuel consumption that can be found in the best entry-level upper-medium cars. The Skoda also disappoints in this sector.
ALTHOUGH the Getz comes bottom of our class for depreciation, it is no disgrace, being about a quarter of a penny per mile behind the new Micra on 8.78ppm. The Kalos scores a tie with the Nissan on 8.54ppm with its lower list price off-setting its lower residual value prediction. The Skoda achieves the best balance of price-versus-retained value in this quartet, with the second lowest list price combined with the second best residual value prediction from CAP of 32%, giving it a depreciation cost of 8.16ppm.
TOTALLING all the figures shows that the new Getz performs reasonably well in this company, easily beating the less powerful Skoda and thirsty Kalos in wholelife costs. However, it isn't quite enough to get the better of the new Micra, which, despite its higher list price, comes out on top in all but one of the comparison sectors. Even though the Getz is better equipped, you could throw a few optional extras at the Micra and it would still come out on top.
Emissions and BIK tax rates
THE Hyundai and Nissan score well in this department. Drivers are protected from the tightening benefit-in-kind tax bands for another year or two, while the Micra has a slight advantage. The Skoda and the Daewoo are already higher than the current 15% threshold, so drivers in either of those can expect increasing tax burdens over the next few years, although at this level the bills are unlikely to break the bank.
THE Hyundai Getz provides a strong showing in running costs and does what most modern superminis should do. It is also well-equipped. However, it has to be our second choice here because the new Nissan Micra illustrates that even with a higher list price, you can benefit from lower wholelife costs. For the difference between the two you could probably throw in a few options on the Micra to bring it to the same specification level as the Hyundai. For