Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review

This automobile, full name being the 2006 Toyota Hyundai Inokom Matrix GLA MPV, served as our primary mode of transportation for just about two weeks. After putting this write-up off at a convenient time, when I could’ve written it, I ended up being battered with all kinds of priorities, but now that I have time on my hands…

(Full Disclosure: My family and I took a long, arduous journey to Malaysia to visit my grandparents. So, in terms of transportation, we didn’t need to rent a car; we just used my grandma’s secondary vehicle — this.)

First thing off the bat: the name; yes, this automobile is a Hyundai. You may ask why the badges don’t say Hyundai, though. This specific Matrix was assembled locally, by Inokom (a local Hyundai assembler), in Kulim, Malaysia. It is a Hyundai Official Licensed Product, and this fact is loudly and proudly emblazoned on the window of the rear hatch.

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Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review
Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review

This automobile has a face that oooozes smiley happiness. The Pininfarina-penned (wuttt) design is a little awkwardly proportioned, a la Fiat Multipla, but it doesn’t look like that discombobulated mess (I will probably get a lot of hate for writing that). It starts out low, very car-like, and rises to a high greenhouse. This, plus the lack of additional flourishes in the design (it doesn’t slope rapidly) translates to good headroom, though, and the slight, gradual downward curving towards the rear is nice, and not as mini-vanny. The specific paintwork on this car is a metallic light blue, with a slight purple accent, that looks great in person. It’s definitely a big difference compared to the fifty shades of grey now offered on most modern cars. Also, the locally-assembled Inokom rocks swag-tastic 6-split-spoke rims, though they suffer from a crappy 14-inch size.

Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review
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Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review
Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review
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Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review

The interior, meanwhile, cannot earn as much praise, though there are a few positives. The gauges were centrally mounted, which meant that I could see stats like speed, RPM, and the fuel level. Hurray! The rear, where I spent 95% of the time in, was very roomy, and had reclining seats as a bonus. There was barely any central tunnel, so sitting in the middle was actually not EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL. Also, there were Citroën C4 Picasso or Mercedes-Benz B-Class-style plastic trays, convenient as cup holders (which obviously couldn’t fit a Big Gulp, sorry ‘Murica), for placing an iPad on, or for putting plates of food, making them extremely helpful for stuffing DELICIOUS CHAR KOAY TEOW IN YOUR FACE. I loved these.

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Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review

Seriously, all cars should come with plastic rear trays, not just the elite S-Classes and 7-Series(es?). Now come the negatives. The dash was lined with a very cheap feeling, crappy vinyl-plastic material, and there were cheap, boring gray plastics abound. Literally, the dash was drab gray and black. The whole interior composition felt quite crappy, though craftsmanship was not as bad as you might expect. With a car that has so much quirky individuality on the exterior, you’d expect the interior to exude this feeling too! The standard Pioneer head unit was a notable piece of crap. The screen was small, plus there were few options, no AUX, USB, or Bluetooth input, and, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to change the time setting! Also, the upholstery was quite weird, though “weird” is not the only way to describe it. Half of the seats were traditional cloth material, but the back part had a rough material that resembled tweed, with weird rainbow-colored stitching; I found this quite uncomfortable, both for my eyes and for my seating comfort. This strange pattern also continued onto the doorcards. The interior was quite a disappointment compared to the exterior.

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Illustration for article titled Le Wild 2006 Hyundai Matrix Review

The aforementioned infernal head unit.

While we are on the topic of the interior, the Matrix excels in space efficiency. We were able to fit 4 check-in pieces, 3 carry-on pieces, and a backpack with two rear seats down, with three seats of full legroom and headroom to spare. Of course, this scenario is much more exaggerated than what the average traveler would bring, but it’s good to know that the car can cope! In the end, this car is perfect for travelling, it being an MPV with the purpose of combining loads of space in a small package.

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I didn’t drive it, so my conclusions on performance, braking, and speed are quite lacking. Our Inokom had a 130-hp Beta I4 powerplant, so it was perky, passing power was not lacking, and the whole package was not too slow. Being an economy car, the road noise was not contained very well. The ride, meanwhile, was in the middle ground between rough and cushion-y, which meant that it was okay in that regard. Braking seemed good enough so that you could stop, just in time to avoid a motorcyclist who decided that it would be the perfect time to cut in front of you, totally ignoring the fact that you were coasting to a red light (this didn’t actually happen). The tires were recently upgraded from Goodyears to Continental ContiProContacts, so that might’ve helped with the braking. I can say that, in Penang, a place with incredibly rude drivers (who operate kei-sized and generally smaller automobiles) who are even worse than those in New York (partially due to the fact that not everyone is driving a freaking Suburban), you’ll end up paying more attention to them than caring about power and speed, well, because everyone is trying to use their limited power and speed to cut each other and get from A to B in a way that they think is fasterrr. Also, add to the fact that most of our accumulated miles were of city, and local, low-speed driving, and I can’t put a detailed opinion on performance together. Sorry.

My verdict:

The 2006 Inokom Matrix is a reasonably good car for a new family. It can fit four, comfortably with stuff, or you can fold the seats down and fit three, comfortably, with a lot of stuff. There is ample passing power, and the engine is powerful enough in an urban environment. You can also throw on better tires than OEM, and this will improve the driving traits. The ride won’t send the seniors to Bedlam (unlike the Rover James), and there is juuuust enough in terms of sound deadening, so that you won’t feel like you’re entering an earthquake. The looks are cute; though the thing doesn’t look a million dollars, it’s something unique compared to most of the monotony on the roads today. The interior leaves much to be desired, but with trays and reclining seats, your rear passengers (may) be delighted.

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Oh, wait, if you’re in America, you can’t even consider this car.

Well, that ends my first “legitimate” car review. It took me three hours, total to write, and I can’t believe that auto journalists do this all the time. Then again, it’s their job, and that’s their priority, amirite? Hope you guys enjoyed it! :)

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