Cheap but not nasty
$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.