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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For Inexpensive; reasonable cabin space; good driving position

Against Disappointing engines; not very versatile; outdated

Verdict Looks and feels outclassed by rivals

Go for… 1.8 GSi

Avoid… 1.6 CDX

Hyundai Matrix MPV
  • 1. We'd go for the 1.8 engine - it's a little quieter on long trips and doesn't have to work so hard as the others
  • 2. There's plenty of interior space, thanks to the box-like shape
  • 3. You can expect quite a few creaks and rattles from the cheap plastics used throughout
  • 4. The rear seats can take three, but two is best, and kneeroom is tight for adults
  • 5. All-round vision is very good, as is the driving position
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Hyundai Matrix MPV full review with expert trade views

Hyundai's Matrix MPV is happiest with four passengers on board – the rear seat can accommodate three at a push – although legroom is tight for adults. The rear bench slides back and forth, although the seats can't be removed.

Rutted city streets can upset the ride, but it improves at higher speeds, and there’s little body lean when cornering. Wind- and road noise become irritating on the motorway, though.

The driving position is reasonable and all of the controls are well laid out, especially the gearlever, which is mounted high on the centre console. All-round vision is good and the Matrix is easy to manoeuvre.

There’s nothing wrong with the build quality and design of the Hyundai, but other MPVs have moved on, so the Matrix feels out of step with more modern rivals.

Trade view

Larger and even more ugly than Atoz. Cheap and reliable though

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The 121bhp 1.8-litre petrol is the most powerful engine in the range and copes well with motorway driving. The 101bhp 1.6-litre petrol and 81bhp 1.5-litre diesel are uninspiring in comparison. All three are a little grumbly, but the 1.8 is quieter on long trips because it doesn't have to work as hard as the others. The three-cylinder diesel produces a distinctive thrum that is tiring on long trips. A new, more refined version of the 1.6 petrol and 1.5 diesel were introduced in 2008. The petrol engine produced the same power, yet was more economical, while the four-cylinder diesel was more efficient and more powerful, with 109bhp.

We recommend the five-speed manual gearbox, unless you really need an automatic, because it is jerky and takes a big bite out of the fuel economy.

All cars front- and side airbags, and GSi trim includes air-con, electric windows and a CD player, while CDX models add alloy wheels, leather upholstery and an electric sunroof. The line-up was altered in 2008, with the entry-level Classic coming without alloys or air-con, while the Comfort included air-con and rear electric windows.

In late 2009, the range was face-lifted with a new front grille, headlights, and a refreshed cabin.

Trade view

Strong demand for both petrol and diesel and GSi specs are fine

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The Matrix suffered from steep depreciation from new, however, this plays into the hands of used buyers.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, the original engines aren’t great. The 1.5-litre diesel averages 49.6mpg and has emissions of 150g/km, the 1.6-litre petrol does 35.4mpg and 191g/km, with the 1.8-litre at 31.4mpg and 198g/km. The revised engines were better, with the new 1.5-litre diesel averaging 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 142g/km, and the 1.6-litre petrol managing 38.7mpg and emitting 174g/km.

The 1.8 is the most expensive to insure and sits in group 21, with the other engines in groups 17-19.

Hyundai dealers charge lower labour rates than many competitors, so servicing at a franchised garage won't mean expensive invoices. There's more good news in that replacement parts are not pricey, so a Matrix should prove easy on the wallet.

Trade view

Larger and even more ugly than Atoz. Cheap and reliable though

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Hyundai has a decent reliability record, but the Matrix doesn’t perform as well as other models. Hyundai’s five-year warranty (introduced in September 2002) provides peace of mind for used owners – and they might need it.

The gearbox appears to be the main weakness, with dealers forced to rebuild or replace troublesome units. A reluctance to select either first or second gear is a sure sign of trouble. Even when repaired, the gearbox can still cause problems.

The electrics are also a concern, with multiple failures and faults reported. You can expect quite a few creaks and rattles, too. Matt says…

Pre-2008 models come with older, less-efficient engines. The three-cylinder 1.5-litre diesel is one to steer clear of, so we'd recommend a 1.8 GSi.

The face-lift in 2009 made the Matrix slightly less dowdy, but couldn’t hide the fact that the car had been surpassed by most rivals.

Trade view

Strong demand for both petrol and diesel and GSi specs are fine

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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