DYNAMIC DUO: The Hyundai Accent comes in hatch and sedan body styles with a 1.6-litre petrol engine.
DYNAMIC DUO: The Hyundai Accent comes in hatch and sedan body styles with a 1.6-litre petrol engine.

Pair no lightweights in segment

HYUNDAI is not covering its bases...more like smothering them.

An all-new compact Accent has this month joined the family Down Under in sedan and hatch guises, fitting snugly in a gap between the i20 and i30.

With a starting price of just under 17 grand it’s another example of the Korean carmaker opting for value over bargain-basement pricing.

And it’s a timely arrival for the “light” sizer, as the segment accounts for one in four cars sold and Aussies are gravitating toward smaller cars. The pint-size Getz is just about to run out of supply here, which will leave a hefty sales hole.

The Getz has regularly made up more than a quarter of the brand’s sales. Even in July, it still owned 10% of light car sales nationally.

But Hyundai has a plan. The company calls it “new thinking, new possibilities”.

Spearheading the Hyundai evolution this year is the Elantra (launched a couple of months ago) and Accent, which will soon be followed by the i40 wagon and sporty Veloster three-door.

But for now it’s the Accent which is the new kid on the block.

This is the fourth Hyundai we’ve seen with the “Fluidic Sculpture” design language, featuring a bold crease around the waist.

It’s a classy looking offering in both sedan and hatch and it’s hoped that this model will lure the male vote. Mainly women have embraced the i20, and now the blokes are firmly in Hyundai sights.

Currently it’s only available with a 1.6-litre petrol, but a turbo-diesel is in the pipeline.

Comfort

Space front and back is impressive. Four adults can be carried without issue, with leg and head room reasonable even in the rear. No complaints about the seats, although the driver has to make do with only vertical adjustment of the steering wheel.

The dials, gauges and buttons are sensibly positioned and simple to operate. While there is reasonable use of hard plastics, things don’t feel cheap or flimsy and the overall ambiance of one of quality through the three levels of specification.

There are some handy storage areas, good-size glove box and two bottle holders in the centre console as well as in the doors.

Aimed at the city-dweller, the Accent performed quietly along city streets with little noise entering the cabin.

On the road

The 1.6-litre petrol engine will not throw you back in your seat at the insistence of your right foot, but it does feel like a consistent and dependable package.

We sampled both the four-speed automatic and the five-speed manual, with the latter our preference. The auto had a tendency to feel thrashy if you summonsed power too quickly whereas the manual was crisper and quicker to accelerate.

During the metropolitan drive route we didn’t get the opportunity to sample the Accent at highway speeds, and at 80kmh it sits about 2200rpm so we can only estimate it would go close to 3000rpm at 110kmh where engine noise may disturb the cabin ambience.

Hyundai says it’s a city car, yet at the same time boasts it has a full-size spare for its country customers.

The steering feels light, and with either transmission choice the Accent is a simple car to drive that manages to iron out bumps and lumps without issue.

What do you get?

From the basement model, the Assent has some pretty impressive inclusions.

Pivotal is a five-star safety rating, that incorporates Vehicle

Stability Management which a new feature that blends the use of vital safety features like anti-lock brakes and stability control for maximum car control when you need it most.

Other complimentary gear is Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod integration and USB input, trip computer, air-con and steering wheel-mounted audio controls across the range.

Step up to the Premium model and you gain leather trim, a reversing camera and push button start.

There is no cruise control, even on the Premium model, but Hyundai is hopeful that will change later this year.

Other options

While small in stature, this genre is big on competition. Among the main players are Mazda2 Maxx ($17,690), Toyota Yaris YR 5-door ($17,290), Holden Barina 5-door ($16,290), Volkswagen Polo 77TSI ($19,850), Ford Fiesta CL ($16,990) and Nissan Micra Ti ($16,990).

Running costs

At about six litres per 100km, the Accent is light on consumption. Insurance should pose no issue, and also in the value mix is a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

Practicality

Boot size in the sedan and hatch is expansive. Those who regularly cart around surfboards, bikes and other bulky items will love the hatch, with the seats folded (not quite a flat bed space) it’s a massive cargo area.

Accessing the child seat anchorage points can be fiddly.

Funky factor

Playing it relatively safe, you get the trademark Hyundai hexagonal front grille. It’s still a stylish little package in either body shape, including a swept-back headlights and distinctive creases.

The lowdown

Only about 30 centimetres separates the i20, Accent and i30. Hyundai has the small car classes well covered, and the Accent is another handy addition.

Both hatch and sedans are armed with five-star safety, good road manners, solid warranty and excellent boot space.

The Accent won’t get your heart racing in terms of performance, but Hyundai has put together another good value proposition.

 

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Hyundai Accent.

Details: Front-wheel drive light-size five-door hatch or four-door sedan.

Engine: 1.6-litre petrol with continuous variable valve timing generating maximum power of 91kW @ 6300rpm and peak torque of 159Nm @ 4200rpm.

Transmission: Five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

Consumption: 6.0 litres/100km (manual); 6.4 litres/100km.

CO2: 139g/km (manual); 151gkm.

Bottom line: Active $16,990 (manual), Elite $18,490, Premium $20,990 (automatic transmission is a $2000 premium).


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