Cheap but not nasty

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIVE THINGS - Peter Barn­well

$14,990 (still) buys a fair bit of car

The man­ual’s price hasn’t moved from the Ac­cent’s pre­de­ces­sor, the Ex­cel, 25 years ago yet the lat­est Ac­cent is full of fea­tures miss­ing from its bare-bones fore­bear. Most im­por­tant is the five-star crash rat­ing for Ac­cent plus the tech­nol­ogy in its con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion. It doesn’t have the lat­est di­rect in­jec­tion en­gine and the plas­tic smell in­side is a tad acrid. Sat­nav? That will be streamed through your phone via Ap­ple CarPlay or An­droid Auto. The in­te­rior is ac­cept­ably func­tional and con­tains such good­ies as a five-inch touch­screen con­troller, mul­ti­func­tion trip com­puter and steer­ing wheel, six-speaker au­dio and com­fort­able seats — rear pew folds for ex­tra lug­gage space. Full-size spare too.

Cheap doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean nasty

The auto we drove is $15,990 (cur­rently drive-away). Power goes to the front wheels via a 1.4-litre four-cylin­der en­gine (74kW/133Nm) which is plenty for a car this size and weight, 1080kg. The base Ac­cent’s en­gine has old school mul­ti­point in­jec­tion, which is less ef­fi­cient. The trans­mis­sion is one of those hor­ri­ble slur­ring jobs that seems to rev up and down the range in­ces­santly. But real­is­ti­cally, any au­to­matic is OK for city driv­ing if it means you don’t have to row a man­ual gear­stick and op­er­ate a clutch. Fuel re­quire­ment is 91 reg­u­lar un­leaded, mean­ing week to week sav­ings. The test ve­hi­cle re­turned a pock­et­friendly 6.2L/100km — not the best in class but rea­son­able.

Safety is be­com­ing democra­tised

The Ac­cent 1.4 Ac­tive scores a five-star ANCAP rat­ing even with­out any driver as­sist tech­nol­ogy. Lack­ing a re­verse cam­era is a big over­sight as we feel they should be in ev­ery new car sold in this coun­try. All the usual re­quire­ments for the top ANCAP rat­ing are there — sta­bil­ity con­trol, six airbags and pas­sen­ger safety cell con­struc­tion mak­ing the car pretty good pro­tec­tion-wise. It has cruise con­trol and some other fea­tures that could be con­strued as driver as­sist equip­ment. Steer­ing wheel move­ment can be ad­justed for rake only, not reach, but the driver’s seat has plenty of ad­just­ment to com­pen­sate.

Dis­re­spect be­comes the or­der of the day

Get used to be­ing dis­re­spected by other driv­ers when you’re be­hind the wheel of your Ac­cent. The car seemed in­vis­i­ble, given the num­ber of times other driv­ers pulled out in front of it from side streets, cut it off chang­ing lanes or tail­gated at high speed. The fee­ble horn got a se­ri­ous work­out dur­ing our week-long, 500km drive mostly on ur­ban and in­terur­ban roads. Thing is, the Ac­cent 1.4 Ac­tive auto makes a good fist of high­way driv­ing as long as you are pre­pared to ex­er­cise the right foot …. keep­ing you out of the way of other ve­hi­cles.

As trans­mis­sions go, a CVT is a hor­ri­ble thing

Hyundai has an ex­cel­lent sixspeed au­to­matic in its in­ven­tory that we feel should find a home in the Ac­cent be­cause, ba­si­cally, we can’t stand con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sions. They make the car slow off the mark and rev the rings out of the en­gine at high speed or when over­tak­ing. The Ac­cent it­self is not bad to drive, thanks to lo­cally cal­i­brated dy­nam­ics and rel­a­tively low-level noise and road vi­bra­tion. The elec­tric steer­ing feels dead and tends to op­er­ate in de­lay mode, need­ing cor­rec­tion back to the on­cen­tre po­si­tion.

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