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While there are plenty of things that somehow improve with age (art, wine, the seemingly ageless Will Smith, to name but a few), the Hyundai Accent is sadly not one of them.
But then, neither does almost any new cars. With new technology, entertainment and safety features launching daily, and with engines that are getting cleaner, more efficient and smoother all the time, a once all-new model can be left looking positively antique in just a handful of years.
But it’s definitely even worse than normal over at Hyundai; the Korean manufacturer that continues to make great forward strides with every new model. From the members of its fast and frantic N Division to its polished SUVs, to the all-new i30 small car, Hyundai is going from strength to strength with neck-breaking speed.
All of which creates a little problem for the pint-sized Accent, which - having launched back in 2011 - is now starting to feel its age. And unlike the Fresh Prince, it isn’t holding up quite so well.
So in lieu of an all new version, Hyundai streamlined the existing Accent family into one value-packed model in 2017, taking the axe to the Active and SR models and replacing both with a single, Sport trim level, which is available in sedan and hatchback guise.
And in creating the Sport, Hyundai aims to blend the best of the Accent range into one handy package. So have they taught this old dog new tricks?
|Hyundai Accent 2018: Sport|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
It looks good, the Accent, just not quite as good as its bigger Hyundai brothers. And that’s got to sting, if only a little bit.
Words like "subtle", "restyled” and “enhanced design” pepper the Accent’s media information, and so we’re not talking massive changes. But the exterior of the Sport looks sharp, especially in the 'Pulse Red' of our test car. Other colours include 'Chalk White', 'Lake Silver', 'Phantom Black', 'Sunflower' (yellow), and 'Blue Lagoon', but there’s no green, orange or grey paint available.
First, though, don’t let the whole 'sport' thing fool you. You’ll find no Fast and Furious body kit, nor is there much in terms of a rear spoiler, side skirts or a rear diffuser. Instead, a silver-framed mesh grille (a smaller version of the one that adorns the i30) blends into the headlights that then sweep back into the body, while subtle power lines create a little dome in the bonnet, starting at the edges of the Hyundai badge and getting wider as they sweep back across the bonnet.
Side on, the alloys are clean and simple, and a single style crease runs the length of the body, intersecting both door handles on each side. At the rear, though, the concave body styling doesn’t quite work so well, ending up looking busier than the rest of the car, and leaving it with too much body and not enough rear window.
Inside, as you can see from our interior photos, there is plenty of hard plastic, but there have been some design flourishes that give them a nicer texture and go some way to disguising the fact they’re hard enough to be used as a weapon in a roadside road rage dispute.
But it’s a simple and clean design, with patterned cloth (what, you were expecting leather seats at this price point?) seats, an uncluttered centre cluster and a sparing use of silver highlights that break up the black of the dash and doors.
You can also option everything from tailored floor mats to interior lighting, forming a kind of personalised premium package for the Accent Sport.
It’s every bit as practical as you might expect, the Accent Sport, given that you’re unlikely to be using something this size as a pseudo moving van anytime soon.
The 4155mm long, 1700mm wide and 1450mm high (the sedan is 4370mm long) Accent Sport's interior dimensions feel spacious up front, and while the front seats are a little too flat, the cabin feels airy and light. There are two cupholders up front, too, and there’s room in the front doors for extra bottles.
Like all Hyundais, the little Accent boasts most of the technology options favoured by younger buyers, like a USB point, an aux connection and two 12-volt power outlets all housed in a tiny storage bin underneath the centre console. There’s a sunglass holder, too, integrated into the roof.
The backseat is sparse but spacious enough, with enough room for adults to sit behind adults in comfort - at least in the two window seats. That’s about it back there, though, with no technology options, vents or air-con controls.
Boot space is a useable 370 litres in hatch guise, but luggage capacity grows to 465 litres should you opt for the sedan, with both of those figures measured in VDA. Optional roof racks and rails (and other offical accessories like a rubber cargo liner, mud flaps or dedicated bike, snowboard and surfboard carriers) help increase the pint-size Accent’s load-lugging ability.
As does a handy (and optional) cargo liner that helps separate your groceries, sitting neatly under the cargo cover that shields you luggage from prying eyes outside. Perhaps unsurprisingly, you can’t get a factory-offered bull bar.
There are two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat, as well as three top-tether points across the back row.
The price list for the Hyundai Accent range - available only in single, Sport trim - starts at $15,490 for the six-speed manual version, and will cost $2k more ($17,490) for the six-speed auto version, with those prices identical for hatch and sedan versions. So, not much of a walk through a valley of trim levels, then.
Yes, you could be forgiven for asking “how much!?”, given that’s a little more than we’ve grown accustomed to paying for the cheapest - and on perennial runout - Hyundai model, but there are enough standard features on offer to sweeten the deal. Besides, the inevitable drive-away pricing deals will almost certainly improve the value equation, too.
Outside, expect 16-inch alloy wheels and LED indicators integrated into the side mirrors - though there aren't projector headlights, daytime running lights or any of the other, more high-end appointments.
Inside, you’ll find cloth seats, cruise control, air-conditioning, a power window for everyone, powered mirrors, steering wheel controls and a digital clock.
Finally, the tech stuff is covered by an Apple CarPlay-equipped (meaning you can use your iPhone’s GPS as your navigation system) 5.0-inch touchscreen that pairs with a stereo with four speakers. Android Auto is also available, via a 15-minute software upgrade done through the dealer. The screen is too small to use for in-depth stuff, like searching for a phone number, but it mostly does the job just fine.
It also means that, as well as a CD player, you’ll get radio, Bluetooth, MP3, podcast and Spotify access, all played through the car’s sound system. You can forget a subwoofer or DVD player, though, unless you opt for an aftermarket multimedia system.
Sure, that’s not the most comprehensive list of goodies - there aren’t deeply tinted windows, no sunroof and the touchscreen is rather small, and while there’s central locking that allows keyless entry, there's no push-button start.
But then, $15,490 isn’t much in the world of new cars, and so to score alloy rims, powered everything and genuine phone integration (all things that will attract your future buyers - and protect your resale value - should you sell it second hand) is not to be sneezed at.
The one Accent on offer is powered by a single engine; a petrol-sipping (there’s no diesel, LPG or turbo), 1.6-litre motor that will produce a solid-sounding 103kW (138 horsepower) at 6300rpm and 167Nm of torque at 4850rpm. They are good specs, and it stands up to most competitors in an engine vs engine models comparison. It pairs with a choice of six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic transmission.
There used to be a fairly underwhelming 1.4-litre engine size paired with a CVT auto in the now-axed Accent variant, but this bigger engine is much, much better, and makes for much happier reading on the specifications sheet.
The Accent is front-wheel drive only, with no 4x4, AWD or rear-wheel drive options available. It will serve up a 900kg braked and 450kg unbraked towing capacity, with an optional tow bar/ball fitted. Kerb weight is listed as between 1070kg and 1170kg.
For fuel consumption, Hyundai claims 6.3 litres (6.6 litres for the sedan) per hundred kilometres on the combined cycle. But as with all of these manufacturer-supplied figures, there’s always a some sort of variation in the real world km/l fuel economy.
Just how much variation is dependent on how heavy your right foot is, but after my (admittedly city-based) week with the car, the trip computer had my mileage at 11.0L/100km. If you were to adopt an eco mode driving style, that would surely improve, though.
The Accent’s fuel tank size is fairly small, with a fuel capacity of just 43 litres - perfect for the city, less so for long-distance cruising. Emissions are a claimed 146g (154g in the hatch) per kilometre of C02.
With its sharp design and gleaming alloys, the Accent Sport doesn’t look like an entry-level model, and nor is it immediately obvious that it’s the cheapest way into the Hyundai family. The downside, though, is it does feel that way from behind the wheel.
A little harsher, a little more road noise and a little more gruff than Hyundai’s more expensive models (including the very good i30), it’s the unfair victim of the brand’s staggering success, which has left the Accent feeling a bit old-school by comparison.
That said, it's perfectly suited to inner-city life, and if you’re cruising around using minimal inputs, it does it all smoothly and quietly. The steering feels a little slack at slow speeds, with plenty of dead air when you first start turning the wheel, but none of that bothers you much in the city.
With its sharp design and gleaming alloys, the Accent Sport doesn’t look like an entry-level model.
The grunt from that engine is refreshingly ample for a small car, and provides plenty of punch to get you moving from traffic lights, while the seating position is high enough that vision is great out of every window (except the rear - you’ll be using the reversing camera for that one).
Take it out of town, though, and the refinement begins to vanish. The engine sounds harsh under heavy acceleration, the transmission can be confused - especially around 80km/h, where moving your foot a fraction can force continual changes up or down, like it's wrestling with a big life decision.
The only other question mark is over the suspension set-up, which for some reason favours sporty firmness in a car unlikely to be asked to achieve anything more dynamic than sitting at 50km/h. The result is a ride that can feel noticeably firm over bad road surfaces.
The Accent’s 140mm ground clearance (not to mention the fact it’s a front-wheel drive city car) should be enough to persuade you not to test its off-road performance. And its turning radius is 10.4m.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
It’s a pretty straightforward offering here, with six airbags (dual front, front-side and curtain), a reverse camera and the usual suite of driving, traction and braking aids, like power steering, ESP and EBD, headlining a pretty short list of safety stuff.
The Accent was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating, but the organisation’s demands for safety rating features were less comprehensive when it was crash tested back in 2011.
If you're one who cares about where cars are manufactured, and were wondering where is Hyundai's Accent built, the answer is Ulsan, South Korea. And that’s no bad thing.
It’s a very strong ownership picture, with the Accent Sport covered by Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and requiring a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000km.
A capped-price servicing plan helps take the guesswork out of your service cost, too, with guide prices at between $245 and $345 per year for the first five years.
For known Hyundai Accent issues and common problems, complaints and faults - including any known clutch, suspension, gearbox, engine, battery or automatic transmission problems - head to CarsGuide's dedicated Hyundai Problems page.
One of the most common mechanical questions asked is whether the Accent uses a timing belt or chain, and the Sport uses a timing belt. Check your owners manual for recommended durations between changing it.
Hyundais traditionally score very well in international reliability rating surveys, which helps protect its second-hand ratings.
It might be getting harder and harder to hide its age, but there is still plenty to like about Hyundai's cheapest car. Those who really love to drive need not apply, and nor should long-distance travellers, but the Accent Sport's alloy wheels, true smartphone integration and plenty of power and USB points will thrill its younger owners, while its long-range warranty and cheap servicing costs don't hurt either.
Still, if you think you can stretch to an i30, you should definitely drive one first.
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||6|