Stepping into the Matrix is a familiar routine--the latest Toyota dash, the tactile feel of controls, and the typical easy-to-use blandness that accompanies most of Toyota's newer, smaller models (read: xB, xD, Corolla).
Not as obvious, though, was the car's size in comparison to others in our fleet. I dropped off the Matrix in order to pick up the Four Seasons Honda Fit, and the Matrix felt positively ponderous and refined by comparison. Both are hatchbacks, and I guess I've reached some state of gopher ennui that dictates that all hatches should feel the same. I've spent a lot of time with the Fit but didn't notice how buzzy it was next to the more refined Matrix.
As Zenlea noted, yes, there is some torque steer, but only if you mash the gas. Clutch operation is smooth and precise, and I'm a fan of the center-mounted, rally-style manual. It makes you feel like you're NOT in a Corolla-derived hatchback, using a Corolla engine, and spices up the monotony of daily driving.
Jeffrey Jablansky, Intern