Hyundai Matrix 1.6 GSi - HYUNDAI MATRIX Car Review


Added: 17 Sep 2004
Last update:

ITS name conjures up images from memorable sci-fi Hollywood movies, but I doubt the Hyundai Matrix will earn little more than a brief mention in the annals of motoring history.

It looks okay, but hardly has a blow-you-over appearance and it performs well, though again, not significantly well.

But if your priorities are space, economy and getting around safely, the Matrix is worth a look.

The Matrix is a combination of Italian styling and Korean value for money coming together for Hyundai to make an entry into the mini-MPV market.

I'm not sure that for all their efforts it stands out, despite setting new standards in this highly competitive field.

But it is certainly important for Hyundai, something reflected in the fact that the car went on sale in Europe ahead of Korean domestic market - the first time this has ever happened, reflecting the importance of export countries to the manufacturer.

The name Matrix, incidentally was also chosen by the European distributors.

It is based on the Elantra platform, and has been developed with close co-operation from the team at the Hyundai Research and Development Centre near Frankfurt, Germany.

Available initially in three versions; the 1.6 GSI is priced at £10,995, the 1.8 CDX at £12,195 and the CRTD GSI at £11,695.

As is the tradition with Hyundai vehicles, the Matrix will feature an extremely high specification at a very competitive price level - and you get a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.

All models feature air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, driver/passenger and side airbags, an RDS radio/CD player, electric front and rear windows, alloy wheels and anti-lock brakes.

The Matrix has been designed to minimise the rigours of town driving. Being one of the shortest mini-MPVs on the market (at 4,025mm long), drivers should find it an effortless drive around town and easy to park.

I drove the 1.6 GSI and it had all the feel of a little taxi. The driver is seated high with excellent vision and there's plenty of leg, head and elbow space for passengers.

In fact, despite its neat and compact look, the Matrix has a long 2,600mm wheelbase and width of 1,740mm, making it one of the most spacious cars in its class.

There is extra flexibility thanks to a 60/40 sliding/double folding rear seat.

I guess what it lacks is an element of fun - but it more than makes up for that in the safety stakes.

The guiding words for Hyundai engineers when designing the Matrix were "Passenger protection - first, last and always."

To this end the Matrix boasts a whole range of active and passive safety features to rival any car in this class.

The front seat belts have pre-tensioners and load limiters, to minimise the risk of injury in the event of a collision.

The load limiter helps control the amount of pressure over the torso when the seatbelt pre-tensioner is activated, thus reducing the risk of secondary injury. The outer two rear passengers have full three-point seat belts.

All models feature depowered driver, passenger and side airbags as standard equipment.

Other safety features include doors with child safety locks and central door locking across the range, and keyless entry and anti-theft alarm systems on the CDX.

And the front seats have been designed to include 'anti-submarining' technology to prevent driver/passenger sliding under the belt in a front collision. All Matrixes have childproof locks.

To maximise body strength, the outer side panels have been produced from a single metal stamping, as are the front door frames and all models have an automatic fuel cut-off system, which in the event of a collision will shut off supply from the fuel pump thanks to a sensor.

Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution, always regarded as an essential item in the promotion of driving safety, is standard across the Matrix range.

Last but by no means least, heated door mirrors are standard on all three Matrix models.

Under the bonnet, my test car's engine was noiser than I expected or would be happy with.

But official fuel economy figures are pretty competitive - 42.8mpg on the extra urban run, 27.5 urban and 35.3mpg combined.

And my car's five speed manual gearbox has benefited from a re-design. It uses a double-cone synchroniser design for first and second gears, and a keyless synchroniser for first to fourth gears, which gives smoother shift and better response.


Hyundai Matrix 1.6 GSI

Price: £10,995

Mechanical: 101bhp, 1,599cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox

Max speed: 106mph

0-62mph: 12.7 secs

Combined mpg: 35.3

Insurance group: 7

CO2 emissions: 191g/km

BiK rating: 24%

Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited mileage; 6yrs anti-rust

Words: Andy Richards