The Accent hatch is one of Hyundai’s best cars. But for some strange reason, it’s also one of the best-kept motoring secrets
Since its release onto the South African market back in 2011, the current generation of Hyundai’s compact Accent sedan has been a quiet, slightly classier companion to the closely related i20 hatchback, scoring points for its spacious cabin, striking styling and strong value proposition.
Unfortunately, while the i20 managed to grab a significant share of its market segment, the Accent sedan couldn’t replicate its sibling’s success. The reason is quite simple: South Africans prefer their small saloons to carry a Polo badge on the tailgate – a lesson also learned by the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 sedans.
Droopy gets perky
And so, almost three years after the début of the four-door Accents, a range-topping hatchback version arrived to inject some spice into the line-up. Costing R10 000 more than the “Fluid” sedan, the hatchback substitutes the four-door’s slightly droopy rear end styling for an altogether perkier profile. Upright tail lights with a leaf-like design frame the rear hatch, leaving a usefully large opening to access a surprising amount of luggage space: at 370 litres (1345 litres with the rear seats folded down), it compares favourably with many larger cars, and measures a solid 76 litres more than the new i20.
It’s agreeable inside as well. The cabin isn’t swathed in soft-touch luxury, but the trim feels pleasingly durable, there’s lots of room to move around (thank the high roofline for that), and the layout is pleasing to the eye. The expected electric items (windows, mirrors and central locking) feature on the equipment list, along with rear parking sensors and a USB/Bluetooth compatible sound system with steering wheel controls. Power steering and manual air conditioning is standard as well, and the hatchback variant sees the airbag count swell to six, up from the sedan’s two. A service plan for 90 000 km or five years adds further peace of mind – included as standard in the price tag of R239 900.
The driving experience reveals a small car that feels surprisingly European: Noise intrusion is well-contained, and the comfort-biased suspension isolates most road imperfections. While the handling is quite sure-footed and fool-proof, any ambition of sporty driving dynamics is scuppered by the electric power steering system, which offers almost no information about the state of grip under the front tyres. Then again, the Accent doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a sensible small hatchback, and it’s doubtful that the majority of buyers in this segment would really care about its performance when driven enthusiastically.
If all this sounds a bit ordinary to you, fret not, for the unlikely hero in the story of the Accord hatchback lives in the engine compartment. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder mill features neither turbo-charging nor direct injection, leading to modest output figures of 91 kW and 156 Nm. However, variable timing on both camshafts ensure that the torque is spread over a wide engine speed range – it’s just as happy to potter around at 1500 r/min in a high gear as it is to chase the rev counter needle to the red line. Just as importantly, it also sounds happy at high engine speeds, with little harshness or vibration to discourage you from working it hard.
Frugal and spacious
The official acceleration figures say that the 0-100 km/h sprint should take 10.2 seconds, but the Accent feels sprightlier than the bare numbers suggest – undoubtedly helped along by a feathery kerb weight of 1035 kg. That lightweight construction also helps to contain the Accent hatchback’s drinking habits: the official average fuel consumption is a parsimonious 6.4 ℓ/100 km – a figure that should be easily attainable for a conservative driver, for our test car averaged 6.8 ℓ/100 km over a week of mostly city driving.
With its own blend of attributes, the Accent hatchback offers a compelling option for buyers looking for something outside the usual Polo/Corsa/Fiesta box – that it beats for spaciousness too. Well-equipped, with a dash of style, enough comfort and power to tackle long journeys, and sizing that makes it nicely nippy around town, the Hyundai Accent hatchback might just be Hyundai’s best-kept secret.
R 239 900
1591 cc, 4-cylinder, petrol
Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power and torque
91kW @ 6300 r/min and 156 Nm @ 4200 r/min.
Acceleration and top speed
0–100 km/h in 10.2s and 190 km/h
370 - 1345 litres
VW Polo 1.2 TSI Comfortline, Opel Corsa 1.0T Cosmo, Chevy Cruze hatch 1.6 LS
#Hyundai #Accent #Hatch