AC­CENT ON THE POS­I­TIVE

HYUNDAI MODEL AN IN­EX­PEN­SIVE LIT­TLE RUN­ABOUT

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - DRIVEWAY - Chris Ri­ley

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.

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