Carshop First Drive: Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion Manual

  Calvin Fisher

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Calvin Fisher gets to grips with a small car and an old name.

Look, that massive bicycle race that rolls around every year in Cape Town (unless it's too hot, or too windy or too wet) - you know its name, I've had the pleasure of attempting it 7 times now, mostly with success. Well, completion at any rate - but I'm done. I've paid my dues, contracted the tendinopathy that came with it.

Believe me when I say I've made peace with my remaining years being that of comfort. So, imagine my mood when Hyundai put us in their new Atos and then sent us along a tour of the Cape Peninsula - the same 109km route that haunts my buttocks to this day. Luckily instead of an upturned Sunday shoe for a seat, the Atos pews were markedly more comfortable.

What do you mean Atos?

Yup, that same badge from more than a decade ago has returned. Here, quick - some mild mental gymnastics for you; see the original Atos was a humble A segment hatchling that was eventually replaced (rebadged I'd say) by the i10. Then that grew fat and became the Grand i10 which brings us neatly to the new Atos. Or is that an old i10 in a fancy new suit? Because yes, much like the Vivo is an old (cheap) VW Polo and a Figo ditto an old (cheap) Ford Fiesta, where the successor moves up in the premium stakes and size and the old car goes budget.

In this case, budget is R159,900 which brings it neatly in line with the Renault Kwid and Datsun Go. And while those cars are marred with shoddy safety reputations and deservedly so - the Hyundai is, well, marginally better. It scores 2 safety stars which will have to do. Cheap and cheerful? Certainly.

The first-generation Atos was produced in India, sold 45,092 units in South Africa between 2005 - 2013 and is one of the cars that in our opinions fortified the Korean onslaught on local sales and perception. This 'new' car then comes in 1.1-litre to the tune of 50kW and 99Nm with a five-speed manual transmission.

It's bigger than the old Atos, more spacious and with improved ride and handling thanks in part to a more rigid construction. Here you'll also encounter lower NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels. And you'll appreciate this in a fairly comfy living area within the cabin, with soft cloth seats and a plastic dashboard that houses a well-connected touchscreen multimedia interface. It features the soon-to-be obligatory Android Auto and Apple CarPlay screen sharing systems and you can control certain features from the multifunction steering wheel. Other modcons include air conditioning and electric windows at the front.

Everyday Atos

Would I recommend the new Atos? Sure. Yes, 2 stars is still low and I'm a believer in older safer cars if this is an option you have. But the Atos seals the deal in many other ways including the customer experience - most notably with its 7 year/200,000km warranty and 1 year/15,000km service. This in a car that costs R159,900.

Real talk; it's slow, it struggles on steep inclines and overtaking attempts. But that's not its mandate. Its mandate is affordable, reliable wheels and a comfortable experience throughout. And it delivers this in tiny spades. Especially compared to my bicycle.

Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion Manual Spec:

Price R159,900.00
Engine 1.1l, inline 3-cylinder
Power 50kW
Torque 99Nm
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Driven Wheels Front
0-100kph14.4 Seconds
Top Speed 155kph
Average Fuel Consumption5.7l/100km
CO2 Emissions 127g/km



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Find the keys to your dream
Hyundai Atos





2020 1.1 Motion

R 139,990

2020 1.1 GLS

R 144,990

2020 1.1 Motion

R 154,900

2021 1.1 Motion

R 174,900

2012 1.1 GLS

R 89,900


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