Hyundai Amica

Axed from Hyundai's line-up in 2002, can the all-new budget baby Amica CDX make a successful comeback?

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.0 out of 5

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Anyone who might be expecting the Amica still to feel fresh after it's spent four years on the sidelines will be sadly disappointed. While the 1.1-litre engine gives keen performance for driving in town and the tempting prices seem at odds with a full five-year warranty, it's clear that the little Hyundai is showing its age.

When is a new car not a new car? When it's Hyundai's latest Amica, that's when. The budget baby was axed from the Korean firm's UK line-up in 2002 and not replaced.

However, plans for an all-new model mean Hyundai is reintroducing the diminutive machine to get us familiar with the badge again. With only a mild facelift distinguishing it from the old car, the Amica hasn't evolved much in the past four years - so can it take on the latest urban runabouts?

One thing's for sure, this Hyundai is not for the style-conscious. The front end has been updated, but the tiny wheels and tall body give the Amica an awkward appearance. Inside, the cabin is just as dated. The driver sits too close to the door to get a comfortable position, but there is at least ample space for passengers, given the Hyundai's tiny external dimensions.

A new engine is the biggest change to the Amica range. The fresh 1.1-litre powerplant produces an extra 7bhp, taking the total to 62bhp. That doesn't sound like much, but in town the unit provides decent acceleration at low speeds. Keeping pace on the motorway is much more of a challenge, though, with a change down to fourth gear re-quired to tackle inclines.

Taking corners quickly is also best avoided. The Hyundai's high centre of gravity causes it to roll if you're going too fast, and it's clear the Amica is much happier in town.

With the emphasis on providing maximum value, Hyundai is offering only two trim levels. The £5,995 entry GSI comes with a CD player and front electric windows; add £500 and you can upgrade to a CDX with air-con and alloys. But a passenger airbag is not available, which is unforgivable.

At least all buyers get an unlimited-mileage, five-year warranty and three years' complimentary RAC cover. At £6,495, the CDX is aimed squarely at Kia's Picanto, yet it's massively outclassed by its Korean rival.

The Amica name is back, but city car buyers should look elsewhere. Unless you have to buy a new model, second-hand alternatives are much better.

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