What’s Hot: Exceptional value, light controls, good interior space
What’s Not: Cramped rear foot-well, hatch loading-lip is very high
X-Factor: It’s a lot of car for the money, and a decent drive
Vehicle Style: Five-door light hatchback
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.0 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.0 l/100km
In Elite trim, it serves up both value and performance in a 'right-sized' package.
Quality: Interior trim materials and plastics are not class-leading, but far from cheap and nasty. The cardboard-like headliner material is perhaps the Accent’s least impressive aspect quality-wise.
It would be good to see some softer surfaces on the door-trims though, as they are dominated by hard, unpainted black plastic.
Comfort: The front seats are roomy and comfortable, with well-sculpted cushions giving good support to the upper and lower back.
Front head-room, shoulder-room and legroom are class-leading. Drivers may be disappointed however to discover the steering column only adjusts for tilt, not reach.
The rear bench offers decent under-thigh support, good headroom and plenty of space for two adults. Foot-room is a little crowded due to the front seat sliders though, and the high beltline limits outward visibility for younger children.
Equipment: Standard equipment includes Bluetooth phone integration, a four-speaker single CD audio system, USB/aux inputs for portable music players, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows (auto up/down on the driver’s door), power mirrors, air conditioning, a trip computer, 16-inch alloys and foglamps.
Storage: In-cabin storage is good for front seat occupants, but back-seaters won’t appreciate the lack of cupholders or door bins.
Luggage capacity is massive for a light car, with 370 litres of space behind the 60/40 split rear seats. The high lip and low boot floor however can make it a chore to heft something large and bulky (like a pram) into and out of the hatch.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Accent’s 1.6 litre petrol inline four produces a respectable output of 91kW and 156Nm - more power than any similarly priced competitor, and only 12Nm shy of the VW Polo 77TSI.
There’s decent low-end tractability, but very steep hills (such as those on our inner-Sydney test route) necessitate higher revs and lower gears.
The Accent accelerates enthusiastically enough to keep up with urban traffic, although we weren’t able to stretch its legs much on the launch route.
The five-speed manual transmission is easy to use thanks to a light shifter throw, defined gate and light, easily-modulated clutch. Even in stop-start urban driving, driving the manual was a frustration-free exercise.
Refinement: We noticed some tyre noise and the odd thump from the suspension (the latter being largely a product of Sydney’s woeful road quality), but generally speaking the Accent’s cabin is quite quiet.
Suspension: Hyundai Australia makes a big point of Accent’s locally-tuned suspension and electric power steering calibration. It would seem to have delivered the goods; the Accent handles reasonably well over most road surfaces we encountered.
There’s a hint of inconsistency to the steering wheel’s on-centre feel, but being a launch event, we didn’t get the opportunity to throw the car at any dynamically challenging roads. Nonetheless, the Accent turns in keenly and flatly, and bumps - both big and small - do little to upset its composure.
The steering is light (although somewhat lifeless), and while the 10.4 metre turning circle isn’t class-leading, it’s still tight enough for urban driving.
Braking: As the test route was predominantly urban, we did not get the chance to properly test the Accent’s all-disc brakes. The pedal feel is smooth and progressive though, and there are no obvious bad habits to report.
ANCAP rating: Five stars
Safety features: Front, front side and full-length curtain airbags are standard. Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) is also standard, and integrates the functions of traction control, stability control, ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution.
VSM can also help steer the car in the right direction during a loss of control, by modifying the behaviour of the electronic power steering motor.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years, unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: Costs vary from dealer to dealer. Service intervals are set for every 12 months or 15,000km.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Honda Jazz VTi ($17,790) - The Honda Jazz might be smaller than the Accent, but its packaging delivers a similarly spacious feel inside and a respectable boot capacity of 337 litres.
Its 88kW/145Nm 1.5 litre engine also compares favourably with the Hyundai’s 71kW/156Nm 1.6, and the Jazz’s standard cruise control is a definite plus. (see Jazz reviews)
Suzuki Swift GLX ($18,990) - The Swift GLX is very generously featured for a small car, and also a pleasure to drive.
On the downside it’s a size smaller than the Accent, with a small boot (210 litres), small back seat and narrower cabin. (see Swift reviews)
Ford Fiesta LX ($18,990 ) - The Fiesta almost equals the Hyundai for power and torque, but doesn’t feel anywhere near as spacious.
That said, the Ford does benefit from cruise control and a driver’s knee airbag - two features not available on the Accent. (see Fiesta reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s big (relatively), it’s no slouch and its standard equipment list is only let down by the unavailability of cruise control and a reach-adjustable steering column. There’s a lot to like here, and little to dislike.
At $18,490 the Accent Elite is far from being the cheapest in its category. But with a passenger compartment that’s so spacious, don’t think of it as an expensive light car, but as an extraordinarily well-priced small car.