Hyundai Matrix Overview
If you're in the market for a basic, no-thrills compact people carrier then the Matrix should be somewhere on your shortlist. But for most people the gawky styling, lack of refinement and poor practicality will knock it out of contention early in the process. The Matrix's design has never been particularly successful, with the tall windows making it look like a vertically expanded supermini. And the rest of the compact MPV segment has expanded and grown up around it, leaving it looking small and squat. The interior is very old-school Hyundai - well assembled, but made from cheap feeling materials which lack much in the way of perceived quality. Space is decent for front and rear seat occupants, if not up to the Hyundai Accessories of some more recent rivals, and the boot is relatively small.
The driving experience is pretty much as you would expect. Dynamic limits are low, with the front end running out of grip early on wet corners and roundabouts. Not that this is the sort of car you're likely to want to chuck around, of course. The soft suspension settings give a decent ride quality. Three engines are available. The basic 1.6 litre petrol lacks punch and the more powerful 1.8 litre unit is loud when revved hard, although respectably rapid. Both are better than the truly dreadful 81 bhp 1.5 litre diesel option, which feels completely overwhelmed trying to motivate a car this size.
If you read any motoring magazine they'll tell you that Hyundai have always built reliable, strong cars, but they've always been a bit behind the game when it comes to refinement, especially when compared to their Japanese competitors. But the gap between the two is now closing - fast. The Matrix is one example of the newer generation of Hyundais, and with it's styling by Italian design house Pininfarina, together with alloy wheels, it looks pretty stunning - especially in red. In fact all of the colours Hyundai offer seem to suit the car. What you get with the Matrix is a small MPV. It's a bit smaller in overall dimensions than some of its competitors, mainly in terms of length which translates into a smaller boot, but you really appreciate it when you're trying to park - this car is a doddle!
Inside the car feels spacious and there's a good driving position with plenty of adjustability. The controls are well weighted and easy to use, althogh it might take a little while to get used to the indicator and lights stalk being on the right of the steering wheel! To drive the car is very nice. The 1.6 petrol engine doesn't always sound refined, especially when started from cold, but is responsive and gives all the performance you need, even if you have to work the gearbox a little sometimes to cover the ground. The one link in the chain is the gearbox, which feels a little ponderous, but is not bad enough to seriously damage the driving experience.
There's plenty of interior space, and rear seat legroom, and also more cubby holes and storage areas than you'll probably ever need. The picnic trays behind the front seats are a nice touch and are very strong! What's it like to live with? Well I've had mine for two and a half years. Not a single thing has gone wrong with it, and not a single bit has fallen off or come loose. The only issue I've had is a slight leak around the rear hatch, which was fixed easily under warranty.
And herein is the piece de resistance of this car - Hyundai's 5 year warranty. This is one of those cases where something looks too good to be true, and it is. The warranty is simple. 5 years, no mileage limit, fully transferrable. Period. No hidden conditions no nasty get out clauses. And if you catch the dealers at the right time, there's a good chance you'll get three years free servicing as well. I got it, and I was glad I did. So to summarise, two and a half years on I'm still very glad I bought this car. If you want a good value well built mini MPV with a cracking warranty, the Matrix could well be the one for you.