Hyundai Atos is a charismatic and solidly built tot
The Hyundai Atos is one of the top picks in the competitive baby hatch segment
Hyundai has restored the Atos after a seven year absence on this market. The new version is a lot more cheerful this time around and it looks a whole lot better than the gawky and unattractive tall-box models made before Hyundai design director Peter Schreyer arriving on the scene to tidy up things.
Clever design has seen 10mm lopped off its height resulting in a more harmonious looking silhouette.
Despite a lower roof line entry and egress isn’t compromised. The new car is also 49mm longer at 3,610mm.
This gain in length means 235l of boot space as opposed to 221l while 2,400mm of wheelbase effectively means an extra 20mm has been liberated to create better legroom and continue forming the cheapest way to travel by Hyundai for four, or five at a very tight squeeze.
Specification isn’t spectacular but sufficient.
The new Atos doesn’t have crowd pleasing items like park distance control or daytime driving lights as found in both Renault Kwid and Datsun Go, but inside the Hyundai serves up a far superior quality of finish, along with dual airbags and a multifunction steering as standard fitment.
Like its rivals the Atos is no macho thing but the fun factor is reborn in this Korean tot. Admittedly, the motor is an old-hat naturally-aspirated 1.1l four-cylinder. Power is 50kW/99Nm but unlike its competitors which offer manual and auto choices, it’s exclusively available with a five-speed manual transmission.
The turning circle is sufficiently tight and the steering is really light to aid with manoeuvrability and it doesn’t require much effort to squeeze into tight parking spaces.
Despite natural-aspiration, the engine doesn’t feel pedestrian by the standards of the class and you don’t have to keep the revs up to avoid stalling on pull off, making the Atos a peach when used in town.
On highway driving the car makes light work of keeping up with traffic and overtaking is usually a single gear down. Performance has significantly improved from a woeful 0-100km/h in 18.9 sec and a top speed of less than 140km/h circa 2012 when it was discontinued. It’ll now do a claimed 14.4 seconds to 100km/h and reach a 155km/h top end.
The Atos is up against more than the aforementioned Renault alliance protagonists in the city car class. As if the Kwid and Go weren't enough to worry about, there are equally nippy rivals from Toyota, Volkswagen and Peugeot vying for the same customer base.
Study the catalogues and you’ll quickly notice that pricing and dimensions are similar. It’s all down to styling and small nuances in convenience and safety specification like ABS, which the Atos has.
I found few reasons not to pick it, which are a lack of a self-shifting derivative. It’s a nice, thoughtful entry-level hatch that provides much in the way of affordability, safety, digital items and driving entertainment.
Type: Four-cylinder petrol
Type: Five-speed manual
Type: Front-wheel drive
Top speed: 155km/h
0-100km/h: 14.4 sec (as claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 5.7l/100km (claimed) 5.9l/100km (as tested)
Bluetooth, power steering, on-board computer, multifunction steering wheel, USB port, air conditioning, partial cloth and vinyl upholstery, ABS brakes, driver and front passenger airbags, manual central locking.
Cost of ownership
Warranty: Seven years/200,000km
Maintenance plan: One year/15,000km
Lease*: R3,492 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion
WE LIKE: Looks, build quality, price, power, safety
WE DISLIKE: Could do with remote central locking
VERDICT: A thinking young adult’s first car
Motor News star rating
Design * * * *
Performance * * *
Economy * * * *
Safety * * * *
Value For Money * * * *
Overall * * * *
Datsun Go 1.2 Mid, 50kW/104Nm — R159,100
Renault Kwid 1.0 Expression, 50kW/91Nm — R144,900
Kia Picanto 1.0 Start, 49kW/95Nm — R162,995
Peugeot 108 1.0 Active, 53kW/93Nm — R179,900
Toyota Aygo 1.0, 53kW/93Nm — R174,900
Volkswagen Up 1.0, 55kW/95Nm — R180,900