2012 HYUNDAI ACCENT REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Five-door light hatchback
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.0 l/100 km
Fuel Economy (tested): 7.9 l/100 km
The Accent had almost become the forgotten member of Hyundai’s line-up.
But now with improved comfort and dynamics, the new Accent is ready to re-assert itself as part of Hyundai’s ‘high-quality’ makeover.
It's a compact package that, while small on the outside, offers generous interior space.
Quality: Inside things are a little more staid than in the larger Elantra, but interior quality is a match. While soft-touch finishes are scarce, the plastics are robust and well-finished.
Seat are trimmed in an appealing and comfortable fabric with a modern but subtle pattern, adding to a sense of quality.
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, but the steering wheel is limited to tilt-only adjustment
The rear seat is also remarkably spacious and easily-accessed through the large rear doors, only the rising window-line and tight foot space take marks off.
Equipment: Accent Active specification includes remote keyless-locking, power windows and mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls, four-speaker audio with CD, MP3 and USB/iPod/Aux connectors and 14-inch steel wheels.
Storage: Storage spaces are numerous for front seat occupants, but the back seat misses out on cupholders and door bins.
Luggage capacity measures an impressive 370 litres of space behind the 60/40 split rear seats. The high lip and low boot-floor can make loading and unloading heavy items awkward.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Power for the Accent is provided by a 1.6 litre petrol engine producing a healthy 91kW and 156Nm (Hyundai has confirmed that a turbo-diesel and more powerful direct-injected engine are also in the pipeline for the Accent).
As it is, the Accent is enthusiastic off the line. Our test car though could be a little shuddery at first, with some hesitation at low revs, but once underway proved its ability to easily match pace with urban traffic.
The five-speed manual has a clearly-defined gate with a light shift-action matched to a clutch with a nice balance and smooth take-up.
Travelling on the open road though isn’t quite as rosy as urban work. The Accent feels ‘darty’ and slightly insecure at highway speeds and, at the legal limit, there is a constant buzz from the engine revving at a fairly high 3000rpm in top gear.
Refinement: In urban usage the cabin remains calm and quiet, as speed rises so to does the tyre noise, but not so much it can’t be talked over. Engine noise (as noted above) is the biggest disturbance at 100-110km/h.
Suspension: Hyundai is keen to point out the local tuning of suspension and electric power steering for Australia. Around town they have certainly delivered, but we’d like a more secure feel at speed.
Braking: Better than average braking is provided by four-wheel disc brakes that are strong, progressive and confidence inspiring in their operation.
ANCAP rating: 5 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 every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Kia Rio S ($16,290) - Entry level pricing creeps in just below the Accent and equipment levels are nearly identical, but the entry level Rio makes do with a much less powerful 1.4 litre engine, but gains a six-speed manual. (see Rio reviews)
Holden Barina ($15,990) - Holden’s new and very handsome Barina is a big leap forward over its predecessor, and keen pricing and close specification see it line up as a hot contender. It’s line ball - the Accent may hold the advantage for polish, the Barina for comfort. (see Barina reviews)
Mazda2 Neo ($15,790) - Mazda2 is currently the biggest seller in its class and best-priced of this quartet. It’s also best on road and really enjoyable to drive, although its age may now be starting to show and the interior is a bit spartan compared to the Accent. (see Mazda2 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Sprightly acceleration, a strong features list and a generous rear seat with easy access make the Accent easy to like. It is very city-centric but if that is where it will most likely be used, why not?
However, although the value is strong, there are cheaper options available.
That said, buyers looking for a quality feel in a small car should certainly give Hyundai's solid and capable Accent close consideration.