REVIEW | 2019 Hyundai Atos is charismatic and solidly built

13 December 2019 - 08:45 By Phuti Mpyane
Aesthetics are very important for first-time buyers and the Atos is one of the pretty ones. Picture: SUPPLIED
Aesthetics are very important for first-time buyers and the Atos is one of the pretty ones. Picture: SUPPLIED

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 sufficiently spacious Atos interior is among the most hushed and well-styled cabins in the A-segment arena. Picture: SUPPLIED
The sufficiently spacious Atos interior is among the most hushed and well-styled cabins in the A-segment arena. Picture: SUPPLIED

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.

There’s 235l of useful luggage area accessed via a button on the inside. Picture: SUPPLIED
There’s 235l of useful luggage area accessed via a button on the inside. Picture: SUPPLIED

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.  


Tech Specs

Engine

Type: Four-cylinder petrol

Capacity: 1,086cc

Power: 50kW

Torque: 99Nm

Transmission

Type: Five-speed manual

Drivetrain

Type: Front-wheel drive

Performance

Top speed: 155km/h

0-100km/h: 14.4 sec (as claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 5.7l/100km (claimed) 5.9l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 127g/kg

Standard features

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

Price: R159,900

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 * * * *

Competition

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

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