Although a lot of people haven't yet got to grips with it, driving a diesel car makes a lot of sense if you want great economy. And now, with the latest Hyundai Getz CRDi, you get lots of power too.
In fact, because it has a turbo-charger, this car goes almost as well at high altitude as it does at the coast, so sometimes you're better off than people who drive petrol cars with supposedly more power.
What is it about?
Hyundai (and sister company Kia) now has its own research and development facility in Europe - situated, as it happens, close to the main gate of Opel's Russelsheim factory in Germany - and this is starting to show in the vehicles the company is producing.
Although the Getz has been around a while now, in its latest incarnation it's not just gone through styling changes, but a whole physical metamorphosis.
To put it bluntly, this no longer feels like a Korean car - or a Japanese car, for that matter.
It's thoroughly European in the way it rides, it handles, and it drives.
At the same time the 1.5-litre engine in the Getz diesel is state-of-the-art, and pushes out no less than 81 kW, plus bags of torque, and this really moves the car along, and on to a top speed of 181 km/h - not bad for a small car.
On the outside the diesel Getz is distinguished from other models in the recently face-lifted range with sporty-looking 15-inch alloy wheels and a high-mounted spoiler at the rear.
The car has a modern front grille, large headlights and swept back bonnet while, at the rear, the incorporation of a neat, wraparound bumper beneath new tail light clusters is intended to aid signal visibility as well as to mirror the car's contemporary sense of fashion.
The interior is plush and cheerful, and well equipped for safety and comfort.
Equipment includes airbags, air-conditioning, an audio system with radio/front loader CD and MP3 compatibility, a rev counter, cup-holders, electrically powered windows and outside mirrors, a transponder immobiliser system, fold-forward rear seats and quality-feel materials used in upholstery, fascia mouldings, control stalks and switches.
Yes, there are some hard plastics on the dash - but the same can be said for just about all the competition in this market segment.
Where the Getz scores is that there's not one rattle, squeak or whistle.
The layout of the dashboard is clean and straightforward and it is easy to find a comfortable driving position, and thanks to big glass areas there are no nasty blind spots either.
Parking is a cinch, and the steering, though firm and positive when driving, is more than light enough at low speeds to make things easy for the driver - save for the rear three quarter view
There's a 5-speed manual transmission and great braking thanks to ventilated disc brakes at the front.
As mentioned, it's on the road where this latest Getz shows its mettle.
The diesel engine is really perky, with pickup from low down without having to slip the clutch - stark contrast to the 1.4 Polo diesel - making this a car in which you slide through traffic without anyone really noticing, the willing engine and smooth gearchange allowing you to take advantage of any gaps which suddenly appear.
The engine is a bit noisy at lower speeds, but once on the boil it's not much worse than your average small petrol unit, except that there's just so much more power.
There's no real "sports Getz" in the range, but if there were, this would be it!
The car willingly and easily cruises at the legal speed limit - and beyond - and at that point the handling comes into its own.
Long fast sweeps can be taken with alacrity, without any need to lift off, the car displaying quite neutral characteristics. And when the turns tighten up the car turns in nicely, without squealing of tyres or any other drama.
Which is not to say you CAN'T squeal the tyres - a couple of times when I pulled off quickly and turned at the same time - as you do when you're entering a gap in traffic from a side street - there was a decidedly rally-style squeal from the front end.
Brought a smile to my face!
- Great engine
- Smooth drive
- Fast pickup
- Good build quality
- Engine noisy at low speeds
- Tiny boot when seats are up
The Getz continues to conquer, and in its latest form - best yet - it makes a decidedly yummy alternative to some of the less exciting family fare around.
Never mind the great fuel economy, which of course has to be important in today's world - this one is so much fun to drive that you'll want to steal it from your wife at every opportunity.