Anonymous Hyundai hatch was actually the start of something big…
Often, in history, major turning points come along and it takes a little while, a little perspective, to recognise them for what they are. The Hyundai Getz is a case in point. It was launched in 2002, when everyone just thought Hyundai was a dull-as-dishwater budget brand. But the Getz was the first real notification that Hyundai was about the start challenging the big boys…
You would never think, looking at the Getz, that it’s a historically significant car. But behind that blandly simple hatchback shape there lies the first real sign that Hyundai could build a car that could compete, head on, with the best that Europe and Japan could offer.
Now, no-one’s saying that the Getz is a better car to drive than a contemporary Ford Fiesta, nor that it has a cabin to match the Volkswagen Polo's, nor even build quality to beat a Toyota Yaris. But what it was was the first blameless Hyundai, the first Hyundai that you could buy without needing to add the justification of “but it’s so cheap.” The cabin may be plain and dark, but it’s well screwed together and very spacious for four people (five is a bit of a squeeze, mind). The 288-litre boot is big, deep and practical and while you’ll find some rough plastics and panel gaps that modern-day Hyundai would simply not allow off the end of the production line, it’s pretty well built and reliable.
There was a broad range of engines, not all of which were sold in Ireland. Most popular here was the 1.1-litre four-cylinder petrol motor. Not a ball of fire, exactly, but up to the task and reliable and frugal (48mpg is realistic if gently driven). There were 1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 petrols as well, and a little-seen 1.5 diesel, but those models are very, very thin on the ground in Ireland, so if it’s a Getz you want, it’s basically going to be a 1.1.
There are no major reported reliability issues (although it’s worth remembering that the oldest Getzs are now well into their teenage years, so check for regular wear and tear) and it should come as no surprise that the Getz was one of the first cars to be offered with Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. The youngest cars will only just have run out of that…
A modern-day Hyundai driver would probably be somewhat shocked by the cheap-feeling cabin, dull styling and indifferent chassis, but those of us interested in motoring history will mark the Getz as the point when Hyundai went from bargain bucket to decent, on its way to excellent.
The Getz makes an ideal starter car for a learner, or a cheap second-car run-around, so track down a well-cared for 1.1-litre and you shouldn’t need to pay much more than €2,500.
Hyundai Getz 1.1 SE
Engine: 1,086cc four-cylinder petrol
Maximum speed: 155km/h
0-100km/h: 16.0 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.1 litres/100km
• Hugely reliable
• Dull to look at
• Last-generation cabin design and layout
• Hard to find a diesel model
It’s hard to beat the Getz as a small starter car or runabout. It's compact, but roomy, frugal and very reliable and you’ll snap one up for buttons these days.