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Hyundai Accent 2012 review

Performance is strong and it is surprisingly smooth and quiet for a diesel.

We've been waiting to drive this particular car for some time.

Billed as Australia's "most affordable" diesel car, we reckon it would be perfect for someone who travels long distances each week, such as an interurban commuter. Why catch the train when you could have one of these babies?

The diesel

It's the same 1.6-litre CRDi turbo diesel that can be found in the larger i30, with 94kW of power and 260Nm of torque from a low 1900 revs. The difference is this car is about 200kg lighter which in theory means it should go further. Wrong.

Fuel consumption

Fuel consumption figures for the Accent and i30 are almost identical at 4.5 litres/100km a piece for the manual and 5.6 litres/100km for the auto (i30 5.7). In comparison the 1.6-litre petrol model is rated at 6.0 and 6.4 litres/100km respectively. With a 43-litre tank, that gives the diesel Accent a theoretical range of 955km but with a larger 53-litre tank the i30 still has the edge. During testing we clocked up 560km at a rate of 4.6 litres/100km.

Diesel versus petrol 

They don't cost the same, so what's the pros and cons of buying a diesel over a petrol model? The equivalent petrol model is $16,990 while the diesel at $19,490 attracts a $2500 premium. When we checked the price of fuel, both petrol and diesel was $1.47 a litre near the office. At that price $2500 buys 1690 litres of petrol that translates to 28,000km of driving. That means you'd have to travel about 115,000km before the two break even, excluding service costs. If petrol was $1.38 and diesel $1.54 a litre  it's 185,000km.

Auto or manual? 

Like the i30 it's only a four-speed auto. It's another $2000 but will use another 1.1 litres of fuel per 100km (about 25 per cent more). The auto is going to be better in city traffic, instead of working a clutch. We generally recommend an auto with a diesel because it makes the whole experience so much smoother. But if economy is the goal, you'd be forced to stick with the manual. Your call?

The drive

It's not all about fuel economy of course. Anyone who has driven a diesel car can attest to the fact that it's a comparatively easy, relaxed driving experience. With 260Nm of torque, the diesel has a lot more "pulling power" and this makes it effortless to drive  if perhaps a little less refined. Although it's the base Active model it surprisingly well equipped, with a Bluetooth and full iPod connectivity.

Verdict

A fantastic little car. Performance is strong and it is surprisingly smooth and quiet for a diesel, especially one of this size. The only thing we'd wish for is cruise control, a must for driving long distances  but it's not offered with the Accent. The catch is ... like most people, if you do 20,000km a year, then it's going to take six years to recoup the difference. Having said that it's the gap between refills and the superiour driving experience that are the big attraction of the diesel  an extra $2500 won't make a huge difference to your loan repayments.

Pricing guides

$9,990
Based on 104 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,985
Highest Price
$13,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Active 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $4,600 – 7,370 2012 Hyundai Accent 2012 Active Pricing and Specs
Active CRDi 1.6L, Diesel, 4 SP AUTO $5,400 – 8,360 2012 Hyundai Accent 2012 Active CRDi Pricing and Specs
Elite 1.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,800 – 8,910 2012 Hyundai Accent 2012 Elite Pricing and Specs
Premium 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,300 – 8,140 2012 Hyundai Accent 2012 Premium Pricing and Specs