Bonnie and Clyde would have loved one. Any Chicago gangster or mafioso would have loved to be seen alive in one. Its the Materia, a small van like car which looks a bit like a gangster car of old.
The Materia is a tall boxlike design with a high roof line and a high window line. The head space is amazing. Even Marge Simpson could sit in a Matera and not ruffle a hair. The other spectacular dimension is the space between the front seats and the back. The doors open to nearly 90° making for easy access and ease of use. No wonder so many taxis are Materias these days. The excellent handling in city conditions, due partly to a very tight turning circle, the exceptional interior space and very good fuel economy make it a good taxi. The interior dimensions create a sense of interior space.
The rear seats which have a a 60/40 split, fold completely flat and because there is no the boot lip you get a flat loading space like a normal van. There are a number of little storage spaces between the ‘boot floor’ and the spare wheel. The Materia makes an excellent ‘micro’ delivery van. Bonnie and Clyde could have stashed the loot from two banks in the back with the rear seat down. They could also have kept real cool. The air-conditioner works really well and has an intelligent function that switches it off and on several times per second when there is severe load on the engine and to ensure optimal fuel consumption.
Radio, MP3 and CD player is a little complicated at first but boasts a 6 speaker system incorporates split tweeter system / midrange at the front. Other standard features include 8 cup holders, central locking with immobiliser which continually changes its code, ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist, driver, passenger and side airbags, air-conditioning, alloy wheels, electric windows and mirrors, electrically assisted power steering, fog lamps and high-mount rear stop lamp. Some aspects of the interior design are a little quirky and the ergonomics can be described as a bit dodgy. The instrument cluster is mounted high atop the facia and is far out of the drivers normal field of view.
The gear changes are quite klunky and noisy, but one soon gets used to it. It is a great city car due to its short gearing, light steering and tight turning circle which are well suited to city maneouvering.
The 1498cc DOHC engine with DVVT produces 77 kw of power output at 6 000 rpm and 132 Nm of torque at 4 400 at rpm is more than sufficient for urban use.
Fuel consumption is 7.2 litre/100km on the open road and 7.5 litre per 100 km in the combined cycle.
It’s looks take a bit of getting used to, but once you start driving it the fun nature comes out and you start to enjoy the Materia.
Originally published in Your Business magazine in January 2010.