Appealing combination, but the overall package isn't as compelling as the class leaders.
10 November 2005

What’s new?

Single-derivative self-shifter model that answers the prayers of those who seek a cheap, agile small car with the magic combination of effortless steering and automatic gearshifting. Don’t just think of those who spend a lot of their driving lives in cities.

Urban cycle economy is impressive for a slushmatic at 37.2mpg, and the combined figure is just short of 50mpg.

What’s it like?

It’s a terrific powertrain for such a small engine. The Matiz gets off the mark with a zip that belies its lack of cubes, and the slusher shifts smoothly and quickly up or down the ‘box.

It also reacts to kickdown far better than the currently fashionable automated manuals espoused by Ford, Vauxhall, Toyota and PSA.

The car itself is the improved, decently-equipped SE version of the new Matiz, which is nicer looking without breaking any records. It's got decent ride and handling, but it’s not going threaten the class-leading Fiat Panda.

Should I buy one?

You should consider it. It’s hard to find an easier-driving city car with an auto gearbox, mainly because so many of the latest crop have compromised semi-auto transmissions. But be sure you wouldn’t rather have the more modern Panda or Kia Picanto (with manual transmission) before writing the cheque.

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