CC Capsule: Hyundai Atos – Far From Home, And Bleary

When I first saw this Hyundai Atos come past us as we were walking home on a dull and dreary evening , it instantly brought back happy memories of a place I wouldn’t mind being right now: sunny Yucatan. The tall, boxy and tiny-wheeled Atos is probably the most popular entry-level car there, or at least it seemed that way. And how exactly did one find its way to Eugene? Coming to take me away?

Well, catching a car on foot isn’t always successful, but I’ve learned it’s worth trying, especially in downtown. We turned the corner, and sure enough there it was, in front of the county courthouse. When it first went by, I thought it had Oregon plates, but when we caught up with it, those turned out to be from Jalisco. No wonder it looks bleary. Or maybe it has something to do with my keeping the flash off in my camera.

It looks much happier and bright-eyed here. Except for Europe, where it was replaced with the newer i10, the Atos has generally preferred warm and sunny climes, where it became a mainstay city-entry level car. These tall-boys are remarkably roomy, given their short length and narrowness.

The Atos appeared in 1997, in this form, and I actually prefer it to the second generation. But then I’m a sucker for round headlights, and clean, boxy lines, as well as tall-boys. But you knew that.

Hyundai’s newer i10 has replaced the Atos in many markets, and Michael Karesh did a test of one at TTAC. Instead of the Atos’ little 1.0 or 1.1 L four, it now has a (presumably) more efficient Kappa-based three-pot, making all of 69 hp. The Atos made some 53 hp. Will this class of Hyundai ever make it to the states? Big question. Meanwhile, I’m going to see if I can hitch a ride back to Mexico with this one.