Hyundai's entry-level offering has done great for the brand over the years, the A-segment Atos (or Atoz, market-dependent) is one of those models often described as "bread & butter" because more get shifted than most other models and this, of course, helps pay the bills. Well, all sales pay the bills, but you know what I mean. I received the Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion MT on test as soon as lockdown allowed for car sales and the associated online sales to happen again, and I used it to get around for some short errands and two long trips out of the area - the usual press car vibes. First off, this is my first press car from the Korean automaker, and any notions I had about the brand and their offerings came from articles and reviews from my colleagues. Most of them had mentioned that Hyundai's quality has improved in leaps and bounds over the years, and so even though this Atos Motion is an entry-level car I had high hopes.
This car retails new for R162 900, which makes it affordable for many out there thanks to being able to keep instalments under R2800 (interest rate and finance term-dependent). This price tag gets you a 4-door hatchback powered by a, 1100cc 4-cylinder (1086cc if you want to be technical) with a 5-speed manual transmission attached. Power on tap is rated the same as many in this segment - 50kW - and the torque is also quite similar at 99Nm, and in a small car that tips the scales at just 866kg it makes for a rather nippy yet frugal drive (rated at 5.9-litres/100km). The Koreans seem to trust their products more than most, evident by the healthy warranties that you get with their cars, which in this case is a 7-year/200 000km manufacturer warranty and a 1-year/15 000km service plan.
Initial thoughts (which didn't change later) is that the Atos Motion is a good looking little thing. The front grille follows Hyundai's recognisable design architecture and that's not a bad thing at all. There's some interesting lines in the body that accentuate the shape too, and combined with the variety of colours available I reckon it'll tick some boxes on most people's want list. The Atos can be had in Acid Yellow, Alpha Blue, Fiery Red, Polar White, Titan Grey or Typhoon Silver. The sales brochure mentions a high-mounted stop lamp and 14-inch wheels with styled covers as a selling point. I'll agree that the stop light may be, but the 14-inch wheels not so much. 14-inch wheels shouldn't even exist anymore, but that's just one car guy's opinion.
Approaching the Atos and getting in is a little odd, you're greeting with an odd combination of specs that sort of don't make sense. Three steps away I tried to unlock the door remotely and realised that the key was skinny because there's no remote fob built in and access to the car is old school by using an actual key in an actual lock. But this is a budget car, so of course that makes perfect sense. Once inside I was greeted with a decent interior featuring seats that are not only comfortable but that look good, devoid of LSD-inspired patterns some budget offerings have. Settling in and looking up front put me in reach of a multifunction steering wheel complete with brushed aluminium-look detailing. But I just got into a car with manual locks? Next up was to get the mirrors and controls set up for myself, and reaching up to adjust the mirrors I found a manual adjustment lever like in my 2002 Corsa, a typical feature of a budget car. Cool. Buuuut then when I turned to set up the radio, instead of finding a basic audio unit, this budget Korean has a full 7-inch touchscreen heading up an intuitive and easy to use infotainment system. Not only that, it also includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay - NOT the usual kit for an entry-level car with no remote key fob. These aren't complaints mind you, I just thought it was an odd combination of features, some you expect and some you don't. The sound system is also pretty good, better than expected, and the instrument cluster and layout of controls makes for a comfortable drive. The sound system happily pounded all my YouTube Music lists with no problems, and when I left my USB cable indoors things streamed seamlessly via Bluetooth. That 7-inch screen is also where you'll see behind the car when reversing - not a usual budget feature. Nice.
Once set up and familiar with the controls, it was go time and the Atos Motion proved itself to be a cool runaround. That 50kW sounds low, but the Atos turned out to be a nippy little thing, in fact its good fun to rev it through the gears. I think to date it's the first entry-level model that you can rev through the whole indicated rev range without a soft limiter kicking in making it feel like you tramped on the brake pedal. With some irresponsible driving (on a closed professional circuit) the Atos even manages a wee chirp of the wheels when hoofing it into third. 50kW remember. The small capacity motor runs smooth, and unlike some competitors that produce the same power from a 3-cylinder lump, the Atos features a 4-cylinder which means it's much smoother in operation and has no odd 3-cylinder idle wobble. The underpinnings are decent too, the chassis is far from sloppy and the suspension is hard and tight enough that throwing the little Korean through some twisties makes for some fun. As mentioned though, those 14-inch wheels need to get chucked in favour of at least some 15-inch hoops. Not just for aesthetics, but it'll increase both handling and safety. I'd much prefer the contact patch of a 195/50R15 tyre over anything with a 14 in it. Safety also includes ABS with EBD and dual front airbags, which is par for the budget entry course. Global NCAP wasn't too kind to the car, only awarding two stars, but if anything, SA has proven that in this segment, even zero stars isn't a detractor for buyers.
Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion MT isn't only a great entry into a well-established Korean brand, it's a good all round car. Occupant space is good front and rear, boot space is meh, storage space is ok and the combination of features and styling means I'd expect to see loads and loads of these on the roads this year, or at least next year when we can travel more freely. Would I daily a Hyundai Atos Motion? For sure. It's a great car for first time buyers, scaling down buyers and buyers wanting to test out the Hyundai brand and service before shelling out the big bucks. For more detailed specs, head on through to the Hyundai website. One thing is certain, I'd love to get more Hyundai models to review if this is what the entry model is like....