Suzuki Baleno VS Hyundai Accent
- Cheap to buy
- Big boot
- Expensive servicing
- Cheap interior
- Big alloys and new nose make it better looking
- Phone integration unlocks Apple/Google Maps
- Plenty of useable torque from 1.6-litre engine
- Suspension can be jarring occasionally
- Lacks refinement outside of the city
- Standard safety package lacking
The fact of the Suzuki Baleno's existence is one of the more puzzling features on the automotive landscape. It's a car that pits itself against all manner of worthy competition - some of it exceedingly so - in the small hatch segment.
People still buy what the industry calls light cars (in ever-diminishing numbers) so perhaps Suzuki thought offering two would be a good idea, as its Swift occupies the same patch of sales ground in this city-sized segment.
In this part of the market, you've really, really got to want it. You need to be stylish, sophisticated and packed with tons of safety gear if you've any hope of so much as laying a fingernail on the Mazda2. Or, let's face it, be dirt cheap to counter Yaris and (the soon to depart) Accent.
The Baleno seems far too tame, timid and, well, blergh. But according to VFacts, Suzuki shifts at least a hundred of these per month, sometimes over 200.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Baleno is a disappointingly dull car from a company that makes plenty of un-dull cars. I suppose it's prudent for Suzuki to at least try to look like a grown-up, but as this car proves, there's no fun in that.
It will no doubt be dependable and if kept in metropolitan areas, will serve its owners well. But it's lacking in key safety gear, the servicing is a bit on the stiff side and the interior feels cheaper than most of its competitors.
And on top of all that, it feels really old.
Is there anything tempting about the Baleno? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Hyundai Accent 6.8/10
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.
Would you opt for a Hyundai Accent Sport, or step up to an i30? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Suzuki says the Baleno's look reflects the brand's 'Liquid Flow' design language, but I'd much prefer it if they had stuck with the angular design of its other cars. Almost all of them are far better looking, or at least characterful.
The Baleno's recent facelift, which is mostly a new front bumper and a headlight tweak, was probably supposed to improve the looks but instead the car now appears to have had some fillers pumped into its cheeks.
It's not an attractive car from the front, with the grille overpowered by the lower fascia's sheer breadth. The rear and profile are fairly anonymous and to ensure its anonymity, there is little in the way of adornment. Looks basic, is basic.
Step in to the spacious-for-its-size cabin and you'll be greeted with the usual Suzuki staples of super-hard plastics, hardy carpets and tough cloth trim.
There is a little curvaceousness to the dash design but it just feels a bit half-hearted until the curves run into the centre console's alien-with-flappy-ears effect. There's nothing wrong with it but it does look dated.
Hyundai Accent 7/10
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.
Here's some excellent news - there is plenty of space in the Baleno's tiddly sub-four metre frame. The awkwardly-proportioned body has delivered good space for front and rear passengers who would be happier on more comfortable seats, but for city driving, they do just fine.
If you're up to around 180cm tall, there's enough space for you and your legs in the back and headroom is adequate.
Storage is a limited to a couple of open trays but you can put your phone in the same place as the USB port. You get two cupholders at the front and if you don't mind losing the rearmost of your storage trays, the back seat passengers can share it as a solitary cupholder. Each door has a very handy bottle holder that will secure a 1.5-litre vessel.
The boot is a good size for the segment at 355 litres to begin with and 746 with the 60/40 split fold rear seat folded down.
Hyundai Accent 7/10
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.
Price and features
For $16,990 drive away, Suzuki opens the range with this GL. That scores you 15-inch steel wheels with less than fetching hubcaps, a six-speaker stereo, air-conditioning, reversing camera, remote central locking, cruise control, sat nav, auto halogen headlights, power mirrors and windows, and a space-saver spare.
A 7.0-inch touchscreen that you can find in almost every Suzuki handles the sat nav and entertainment duties. It's not a bad piece of hardware except it doesn't have a proper volume knob, but more than makes up for that with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Then ruins it again with tinny sound. You can't have it all, I suppose.
Hyundai Accent 7/10
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.
Engine & trans
You'll not need to hold on to your hat in the Baleno. The 1.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder musters up 68kW at 6000rpm and 130Nm 2000rpm earlier. It's not a lot, but at 915kg, the Baleno isn't doing too badly.
There's an old relic in the transmission department. Power reaches the front wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission. There aren't many of those left in circulation on new car forecourts.
You can't buy a Baleno with the plucky 1.0-litre turbo anymore, which is a bit of shame.
Hyundai Accent 6/10
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.
Suzuki says you'll get 5.4L/100km on the combined cycle, which isn't too far off reality, our time delivering around 6.6L/100km. Which was remarkable in itself given how much throttle you have to use to move along.
Another bonus is that even though the fuel tank is just 37 litres, you won't spend half your life filling up.
Hyundai Accent 7/10
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.
Most Suzukis are fun to drive even if they're on the slow side. The Jimny bounces around like a fat puppy full of sugar, the Swift is a good laugh and the Vitara is quite handy. The Baleno fails to be any of these things, but it's not all bad news.
The first thing you'll notice is the very light steering that makes a high-pitched noise when you turn it.
The second thing you'll notice is the whine coming from the transmission or somewhere very like it, no matter how much throttle you have on. It shifts smoothly enough, though, which isn't very often given the lack of gears.
It's not often I yearn for a CVT, but that might be the better transmission for this car. Yes, I just checked outside for airborne pigs, too.
The Baleno does feel like it teeters a little on its skinny, high profile tyres. It's not a car to drive with enthusiasm, but if you're happy enough with its almost-lively off-the-mark acceleration, which then fades away rapidly, you'll be perfectly happy.
It's not very quiet, though, with plenty of noise passing through the trademark thin sheetmetal and sparingly damped shell. It's light, but you can hear why - there's not much sound-deadening to weigh it down.
On the open road the Baleno further reinforces its credentials as a city car - it wanders around on the tyres, the steering loses all its feel and the wind noise means you have to turn up the volume to either drown it out or make yourself heard.
Hyundai Accent 6/10
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.
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.
Sadly, the Baleno is not among the frontrunners for safety features. It does arrive with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls and a reversing camera but misses out on every advanced safety feature we expect to see at least one or two of, such as AEB.
There are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether restraints for the baby and child seats.
The Baleno does not have an ANCAP safety rating.
Hyundai Accent 6/10
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.
Suzuki has joined the mainstream market herd with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty for private use (ie not Uber) but there isn't even a solitary year of roadside assist.
Happily, since we last drove the Baleno, service intervals on the 1.4-litre have improved to 12 months/15,000km (rather than the previous 10,000km) and the company also offers five years of capped pricing up to 90,000km.
Services come in between $239 and $499, unless you've somehow covered 90,000km inside the five year window, and then it blows out to $649. That last figure aside, you can expect to pay $1635 over five years (or $2045 if you go nuts on the mileage). It's not especially cheap.
Hyundai Accent 8/10
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.