ACCENT ON THE POSITIVE
HYUNDAI MODEL AN INEXPENSIVE LITTLE RUNABOUT
IN case you missed the news, Hyundai has moved to end confusion over its i20 and Accent models.
The i20 is no more, replaced by a new re-imagined, re-powered and re-energised version of the larger Accent hatch.
The ‘eyes’ no longer have it at Hyundai, with the recent replacement of i45 with Sonata and ix35 with Tucson.
To put this in perspective, models with names like Accent are generally targeted at the US market, while those with numbers that start with the Apple-esque letter ‘i’ are designed with Europe in mind.
We've been lucky because until now we have had access to both ranges. Where will it all end? When Hyundai introduced Accent in 2011, squeezing it between the i20 and i30, it was forced to put some distance between the two models. It did this by stealing the Gamma 1.6-litre engine from i20 and keeping it exclusively for Accent.
The poor old i20 was left with the smaller Kappa 1.4.
What goes around comes around, because the 1.6 has just been dropped from the current Accent line-up and replaced by – you guessed it – the same 1.4.
But it's all good, we're told, because they've also introduced a new CVT-style auto to go with the smaller, less powerful engine.
A replacement for the oldschool 4-speed auto, they say the CVT has been specifically tailored for the 1.4 engine and helps to maintain maximum torque at low revs where you need it most.
In manual mode, selected via the shifter, the continuously variable CVT tranny becomes a 6speed auto.
The new Accent is priced from $14,990 for the manual or $16,990 for the CVT, with a sporty 1.6-litre SR model starting from $16,990.
Standard kit includes cloth trim and airconditioning, power windows all round, a height-adjustable driver's seat, plus 5-inch touchscreen for audio and phone.
There are controls for the audio on the steering wheel but not the phone, which you operate from the touchscreen.
With six airbags, ABS, stability and traction control, the car scores a five-star safety rating.
The car comes with a full-size spare wheel but rides on 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.
On the road, it's more about what you don't get than what you do. In this case that includes cruise control, which we reckon is a must if you're planning long-distance commuting. There's also no rearview camera, no parking sensors and no satellite navigation either, in case any of these matter.
Power is down. The 1.4-litre multipoint engine produces 74kW and 133Nm, compared with 90kW and 156Nm previously.
The CVT in our test vehicle picks up some of this slack and doesn't hunt for gears like the 4speed auto used to, but there's no disguising the lack of torque when it comes to the crunch, pulling up a long steep hill. Otherwise, on the flat and on the motorway, it performs perfectly well.
Rated at 6.2 litres/100km, we were getting 6.5 after 450km.
Verdict: It does the job. If you're looking for a cheap runabout, you could do a lot worse.
Hyundai's neat new Accent takes over from the i20.