Hyundai Matrix 1.6 GSI

December 2005

picture of car from the front

Tall body shape helps interior space

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 9Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 8Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 9Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 6Comfort

Security Rating 6Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


Likes

  • Generous interior space gives a high level of practicality
  • Compact exterior dimensions are a useful feature
  • Light controls make the Matrix easy to drive
  • Value for money is a strong point

Gripes

  • Interior is grey and lacks appeal
  • Gearshift operates at an odd angle
  • Exterior looks may not be to all tastes
  • 1.6-litre engine needs to be worked hard to make good progress

Hyundai is moving into expanding sectors of the UK car market with the Matrix, a mini-MPV with a good standard specification at a price level designed to undercut most of the opposition. With the backing of Hyundai's five-year warranty, it has many of the features that buyers in this segment are looking for.

Designed with a demanding market in mind, the Matrix makes the most of its size. The overall length is somewhat shorter than many of its rivals in the mini MPV class, but its tall, square body creates a lot of interior space. The deep side windows and windscreen also allow plenty of light into the cabin, while the high seating position gives all occupants a good view out without compromising the generous headroom.

Some buyers may find the inevitable downside to this approach is the exterior appearance of the Matrix. Although it proudly displays the badge of the famous Italian design house Pininfarina, the Matrix has a boxy appearance, not helped by the 15-inch alloy wheels, which look too small for the height of the body. This may well be a deciding factor for some buyers, although those who have no issues with the exterior design are benefiting from a roomy and practical interior.

Driving the Matrix is a painless experience, thanks to well-engineered mechanicals. The 1.6-litre petrol engine is sufficiently refined and delivers enough power to make light work of most journeys. With a full compliment of passengers and luggage it does struggle a little, so buyers who will be doing more of these journeys may want to consider the larger petrol or torquey diesel options.

Buyers may also be attracted to the Matrix because of its good standard specification. Even the entry-level GSI model is well equipped, and there are few options available even for this model. Although the Matrix is not available with a conventional satellite navigation system, it is available with a Trafficmaster route guidance system, which uses a call centre to transmit guidance information to the vehicle.

Our verdict on the Hyundai Matrix 1.6 GSI

It might be at the top of your list, but Hyundai's Matrix deserves a long, hard look if you're in the market for a compact MPV boasting more than average levels of space. It's good value, too, especially if you factor in Hyundai's generous warranty. While it might be the most stylish car on the block, the Matrix is more than just another Far Eastern lightweight.

Costs
Costs rating 8

Running costs for the Matrix should be very good. Average fuel economy is reasonable, the insurance group is also easy on the wallet and it comes with a five year unlimited mileage warranty with 10,000 mile service intervals. The only issue may be with depreciation, which is likely to be higher than its nearest rivals although this is offset by the lower initial purchase price.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 9

Buyers seeking maximum space for a minimal outlay will appreciate the Matrix's practicality. The body design gives generous interior space, with huge amounts of headroom, plenty of head and legroom and a general feeling of space. There are a number of useful storage areas within the cabin also. The boot is also a decent size, and this can also be increased by folding the rear seat. The front seats can also be folded flat to give a sleeping area.

picture of car from the rear

Near vertical tailgate and a wide rear window give good visibility

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

All the controls in the Matrix are easy to find and clearly labelled, with the majority of them grouped in the centre console. The centrally mounted instrument display may be a little confusing at first as the warning lights are housed where you might expect the instruments to be, but otherwise the display layout is also good. The instrument graphics are clear and easy to read.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 6

The seats in the Matrix appear quite flat and thin, but they provide respectable levels of comfort even on a long journey. The ride quality is also decent, with urban and motorway roads resulting in little intrusion into the cabin. Comfort levels are also improved by the large glazed area, allowing a lot of light into the cabin.

Car security
Security Rating 6

All Matrix models have central locking as standard, although the GSI models does without remote locking and does not come with an alarm, unlike the higher specification CDX model. All models do have a useful under floor storage compartment in the boot however, which can be used for storing valuable items that must be left in the car.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

The Matrix comes with a good range of safety equipment, including six airbags as standard, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and seat belt pre-tensioners. Hyundai also construct the Matrix with single pressing and high-strength steels to improve passenger safety in the event of an impact. The excellent visibility and good driving position also contribute to the vehicle's safety.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 5

The Matrix delivers a sound driving experience, with little to disturb on a journey. The 1.6-litre petrol engine is sufficiently quiet at low revs, only proving to be vocal when extended. The steering is light yet provides enough feel, the brakes and the clutch are easy to operate also. The gearshift is reasonably direct and accurate, but shifting into the even-numbered gears leans the gearlever back at an awkward angle.

picture of car interior

Central instrument display gives a clear view ahead

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 8

The Matrix is also ideally suited to family duties, thanks to its combination of space and practicality. The option of a rear-mounted DVD player with screens in the back of the headrests will also be a big hit with younger passengers, while adults will appreciate the carrying capacity that the Matrix can offer.

First car appeal
First car Rating 7

Boasting a modest price tag, the Matrix is well within the reach of first time car buyers, and its good all-round visibility plus ease of driving makes it a good first car. It may well have more space than is necessary for new drivers, but those who need to carry people and luggage will find it makes an ideal first car.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 2

Spend a little time inside the Matrix and although you won't mistake it for an expensive car, it does feel well constructed from decent materials. Some of the plastics may feel a little thin, but they do not feel like they will become loose or break. There is enough inherent quality in the Matrix to inspire confidence. In terms of image, the Matrix comes across as a practical and good value vehicle, though in terms of desirability it does lag behind some of its rivals.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

This is an area where the Matrix excels, thanks to its tall bodyshape, wide opening doors and high seating position. Front and rear passengers can simply slide into the seats without having to duck or stretch significantly. The same goes for the boot, which has no notable load lip and is at an ideal height for most people.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

A CD/tuner is fitted as standard to all versions of the Matrix, which is clearly labelled and has a clear display. The sound quality when playing CDs or the radio is good, and radio reception is also good.

picture of car in detail

Boot space is large and can be extended by folding the rear seats

Colours and trim

Inside the Matrix is dominated by a grey dashboard and interior trim, and although this is of a respectable quality, the single colour does make it feel rather drab. The higher specification CDX model does get leather trim, though the majority of the interior will remain grey.

Parking

With a boxy exterior and very deep windows all round, parking the Matrix is a breeze. All the controls are light making it easy to squeeze into a small space. It is also fitted with rear parking sensors which are useful, although the audible warning is surprisingly loud.

Spare wheel

A full size spare wheel is located underneath the boot floor.

 

Range information

Three engine options - 1.6-litre petrol (102bhp), 1.8-litre petrol (121bhp) and 1.5-litre diesel (81bhp). A five-speed manual gearbox is standard an all models, with the option of a four-speed automatic on the petrol versions. Entry models are badged GSI, with top level CDX version only available with the 1.8-litre petrol engine.

 

Alternative cars

Renault Megane Scenic Attractive styling and practical, 1.4-litre petrol model is underpowered

Citroen Xsara Picasso Good value but average interior space

Vauxhall Zafira First rate design and practicality, expensive to buy

Ford Focus C-MAX Sparkling drive, no seven-seat option



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December 2005