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Hyundai has pruned its Accent small car range with the previous flagship Premium model being dropped due to its closeness in price to the slightly larger i30 model. Only four variants are now offered, entry-level Active as either hatch or sedan, mid-spec Elite sedan, and the semi-sporty SR hatch.
Previously a rather dowdy looker, the Hyundai Accent made the ugly duckling / beautiful swan switch in 2011 when Hyundai adopted its so-called 'fluidic sculpture design' philosophy and transformed it into one of the best looking small cars on the market.
From every angle the new Accent looks so much better from its large open-mouth hexagonal grille and swept-back headlights with a dipping roofline through to sculpted character lines in the side that give an aerodynamic look.
Clever design work has made the Accent surprisingly spacious inside and it feels like a much larger car than its dimensions suggest. There's plenty of front headroom and despite the domed roof, there's good headroom in the back of the hatch, and even more in the sedan. Rear legroom is reasonable although as is the norm rear and front seat occupants will need to haggle over seat settings if any are on the tall side. Three children are the only viable rear seat option.
The Y-shaped dashboard is neat, contemporary and functional. The rear seatbacks have a 60/40 and fold flat into a boot that is comparatively large (370 litres in the hatch and 465 litres in the sedan), easy to load and with a security screen. The spare wheel is full-sized.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Accent comes with the choice of two quite different 1.6-litre petrol engines. The entry-level Active model is powered by a 90 kW multipoint injection (MPi) unit that generates 90 kW of power and 156 Nm of torque at 4200 rpm. The Elite and SR each get the newer GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) unit with extra power (103 kW) and torque (167 Nm).
Both Active and SR are available with either six-speed manual or automatic transmission, the latter a four-speed in the Active, six-speed in the SR. Elite only has the six-speed auto.
A diesel variant was available during 2012 but struggled partly because of a $2600 price hike over the petrol model but also due to the lack of an automatic option. It's now been discontinued in Australia, with no plans for it to return in the immediate future.
With the Premium model gone the remaining Accent models only come with the most basic features: Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, MP3-compatible CD player and Auxiliary and USB inputs. It does have media ripping and storage capabilities. There are audio controls on the steering wheel.
Hyundai Accent gets the full five-star ANCAP crash test rating, with all of the usual standard safety features including seven airbags. To help prevent a crash it has ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, and stability and traction control. There are also ISOFIX seat belt anchors on the outer rear seats while the Elite and SR models get front foglamps.
Our test car was the Accent SR hatch with the GDI direct-injection engine and six-speed manual gearbox. There's a reassuringly solid feel to it and in the urban section of our test it was in its element, sharp off the mark and when changing lanes. The clever use of interior space makes it less claustrophobic than other similarly sized cars and it's impressively quiet for such a small car.
The discontinued Premium variant was the only one to offer a reversing camera and parking sensors so we had to re-learn how to rely on our own judgement. On the motorway section of our test it cruised comfortably although it struggled a little on the steeper sections needing plenty of gear changing to maintain momentum.
Into the Central Coast hinterland Accent was less at home but still coped reasonably well with the winding, undulating roads. The occasional corrugations didn't cause a problem for the suspension and there's better than average steering wheel response. There is slight understeer under hard cornering but little that will affect the typical driver. The manual gearbox impressed us with its well-tuned gear ratios and smoothness.
Unlike its predecessors Hyundai Accent finally has the looks that will turn heads and this, together with the quality and value that we've come to expect from the high-flying South Korean carmaker, make it a serious contender in the congested light and small car market.
As with all Hyundai models Accent comes with a five year / unlimited kilometre standard warranty and capped price servicing for private and nominated small business customers for the first three years or 45,000 km.
Active 1.6-litre MPI petrol four-door sedan: from $16,990 (manual), $18,990 (automatic)
Active 1.6-litre MPI petrol five-door hatch: from $16,990 (manual), $18,990 (automatic)
Elite 1.6-litre GDI petrol four-door sedan: from $20,990 (automatic)
SR 1.6-litre GDI petrol five-door hatch: from $18,990 (manual), $20,990 (automatic)
Hyundai Accent SR
Price: from $18,990 (manual)
Engine: 1.6-litre direct injection petrol, 103kW/167Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or automatic, FWD
|Active||1.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$6,500 – 10,120||2014 Hyundai Accent 2014 Active Pricing and Specs|
|SR||1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$7,200 – 11,220||2014 Hyundai Accent 2014 SR Pricing and Specs|
|Active||1.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$7,100 – 11,000||2014 Hyundai Accent 2014 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Elite||1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$7,900 – 12,210||2014 Hyundai Accent 2014 Elite Pricing and Specs|