A short trip back to February of 2005 revealed the launch of the then-New Hyundai Atos in South Africa. A supermini that served as the little brother to the tasteful Getz and thankfully shared in the beginnings to the Korean wave of brilliance in the early 2000s, that transformed their brand. The range has expanded somewhat at present-day, meaning the new age return of the appellation has a rather different market to contend with and a tricky role to fill. Consumers demand far more from cars than basic wheels yet the contrasted conundrum and greatest hindrance in the South African vehicle market is pricing and at R159 900 Atos becomes a promising perspective.
The New 2019 Atos 1.1 Motion. Atos returns as a 1.1 4-cylinder with a total output of 50kw and 99Nm, which when matched with a low kerb weight of 870kg and snappy responsiveness to the way the car moves about at city speeds makes progress brisk enough. There’s a bit of character with the looks clear Hyundai design language at the front end. The list of standard features is rather impressive and despite the entry-level market contention, the build quality transforms into so much more than numbers can translate. A 7-inch touch screen display with Apple car play and Android Auto with screen mirroring for Google maps navigation, USB and Smart Bluetooth connectivity that reads Whatsapp messages. Front electric windows, steering mounted stereo controls which when streaming Audio and allow for full integration even when streaming via apps like Youtube music. In practice, it feels best in class and the experience replicates a far more expensive user interface interaction.
Dynamically the Atos shines brighter than its main A-segment rivals Renault Kwid and Datsun Go which is the largest division of the class. The Atos feels planted and stable and even a touch cheeky; the additional cylinder removes some of the noise, vibrations and overall harshness to the car. This smoothness transforms the car intensely and the feel that true thought was put into the overall driving experience blares through. Fuel consumption at a real-world 6.2L/100 enough to offer real promise with respects to economy, and not far off the claimed 5.9L/100. Atos extra sense of refinement translates to stability at freeway speed and very little of the drive is affected by the wind or passing trucks, a statement not true all A-segment vehicles even to this day. Atos is not without shortcomings cabin space is limited in the rear with legroom being an issue of taller folk but it offers enough comfort for most. The meagre 235litre boot will prove a challenge with a large suitcase filling the space entirely. The lack of steering adjustment (rake or reach) means the seating position needs some time to get used to.
Pivotally in this class is the element of safety and standard ABS, EBD and 2 airbags are contrasted with the ultimate problem that exists cars of this class. Sadly the 2-Star Global NCAP Crash test rating means it does not shake this image. Despite the safety concerns the verdict concludes the Atos as a rival for the best car in the segment, brilliant driving dynamics, build quality that carries the strength of the Hyundai brand, through unrivalled aftersales support. The 7year/200 000km warranty with roadside assistance adds real value at such a budget-constrained price point, happily dropping the “free insurance gimmick” and making this a properly sorted car. Such a tightly contested segment will be glad to receive more offerings like Atos combining the genuine cheap car thrills that make cars of this class really clever, in tough car markets and make so much financial sense to limited budgets. Offering a genuinely well-executed package, toughly enjoyable and possibly the best brand-new entry-level car.
Pricing in South Africa
Atos 1.1 Motion R159 900
Standard with a 1-year service plan with 15 000Km intervals, 7 year/200 000Km Warranty, and 7 year/150 000Km roadside assistance.