I had the old version (2000 'X') and can definitely say that this car is a big improvement. I liked the old car, but had to admit that the ride was rock-hard. It's still on the firm side, but - as long as you keep the tyre pressures a pound under the recommended - it's now quite acceptable, and vastly better than the old one. You can catch the suspension out over sharp bumps / ridges if you really try, but what do you expect? - this is a short wheelbase car...
The tyres look skinny, but it goes round corners very well. Steering is light and positive. I had the optional alloys, which are easy to clean.
The dash looks a lot nicer than the old one, and the integrated radio/CD setup is really practical. I don't think the sound is as good as claimed, but again it's OK. The red dash lighting is a bit flash (but can be dimmed) but the daftest part is that the main lighting switch assembly is lit in white - couldn't they have just put a red bulb in it to match the rest?! However, you really don't notice it when driving, and nothing's perfect!
The remainder of the dash area is practical and easy to use, the fuel economy and outside temperature readouts being a bonus. Plastics quality is much the same as everybody else's in this price range. Aircon's not as powerful as Getz's, but does the job - only slower!
Seating is comfortable, there is plenty of space, and you sit nice and high. The wheel doesn't adjust, but I've no complaints about that. There's loads of headroom and no problems with the 'A' pillar obstructing the view. My old one was the top model also, so I notice that, while they've kept the seat height adjustment, the lumbar support has disappeared. As has the tray under the old 'false' boot floor - now it's just a carpeted space. But you now get a parcel shelf instead of a net, so it's swings and roundabouts. (I preferred the net, though - you could fold it up and get rid of it!) There is a lot more room in the boot now, though (this car's 6" longer than the old one), and this is a big advantage. And at 5'10", I don't bang my head on the open hatch - unlike many competitors I looked at.
With the 1.5 Auto, there is nearly 100bhp in a light car. Compared with my old Getz auto ('53' plate), this is quieter, vastly more powerful, yet more economical (39mpg on my commute) and the same insurance group. You can't lose!
The auto-box itself is not quite as smooth as the Getz, but is as good as most. Ratios are fine with about 25mph per 1000rpm in top.
The pseudo 4x4 look will not please some, but above all it's practical and roomy. Frankly, for the money, I don't know why there aren't more around!