Car reviews - Hyundai - Accent - Active
Low price, spacious and neatly finished cabin with huge boot, sturdy driveability, warranty, servicing costs
Room for improvement
Engine lacks charm, CVT lacks crisp response, overly firm ride quality, heavy steering, no rearview camera
14 Mar 2017
Price and equipment
ALMOST permanent driveaway pricing makes the Accent Active extremely competitive not only against light-car rivals such as the Mazda2 Neo and Toyota Yaris Ascent, but the micro-car cohort including the Holden Spark and Kia Picanto.
Basics are covered, with power windows, remote keyless entry, manual air-conditioning, multi-function trip computer and a 5.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, USB and AUX inputs and six speakers.
Automatic-off headlights are rare among entry-level model grades, but 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps are one-inch smaller than those standard on the aforementioned Neo and Ascent.
Only a Yaris Ascent ($16,490 with auto) and Spark ($15,690 with CVT) get larger touchscreens, with the Toyota adding a rearview camera disappointingly absent here, and the Holden featuring Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology also unavailable in the Hyundai.
By some margin the Accent’s most sizeable virtue is its size. Because it was created as a larger vehicle than the i20, but smaller than the company’s i30 small car, it adopts an ‘inbetweener’ footprint stretching 4115mm long (whereas a Yaris is 3905mm long). Without i20, Hyundai has to sell the larger Accent with a smaller pricetag, and the winner is the bargain shopper.
Space up front is more reminiscent of an i30 than any tinny, tiny competitor such as the Yaris. The seats are broad, but they are borderline wooden such is the firmness of the base. The back seat is the star of the show with a deeply padded backrest and a bench that is tilted upwards from its base to aid under-thigh support. Yet legroom for rear riders is comfortably the most generous in the class.
The same goes for the enormous – by segment standards – 370-litre boot volume.
A Mazda2 claims just 250L, a Yaris 286L.
The current Accent launched locally in 2011, but its simple cabin has also aged well. At this end of the market, little details make all the difference – such as cloth on the door trims and a dimpled design on the dashboard that makes the hard plastics look and feel less downmarket.
Connecting to Bluetooth is more effortless than in many more expensive cars, there are steering wheel-mounted audio controls and even storage space is impressive. For the price, the ageing Accent Active still delivers the goods more than – literally – any rival.
Engine and transmission
There is nothing special about the 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet of this Accent, nor the automatic CVT it mates with.
The best light cars manage to feel engaging and enthusiastic, maximising every last kiloWatt of power (in this case 74kW at 6000rpm) and Newton metre of torque (133Nm at 3500rpm here).
However, this engine can feel coarse on light-to-medium throttle as the CVT hovers revs from the low-to-midrange, adeptly toiling away to ensure this Active never feels lethargic, but also failing to work in complete harmony.
Quickly add throttle input and the CVT suffers from delayed response and never allows the engine to rev beyond 5800rpm, despite peak power coming in 200rpm later. Even in the ‘tipshifter’ manual mode it automatically varies revs at its own will.
On-test fuel consumption of 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres was 1.4L/100km higher than its combined cycle fuel usage claim, which itself is higher than other competitors. This Hyundai has a light kerb weight of 1060kg, so clearly the blame is left with the engine/CVT combination – both of which can be heard working hard and often.
Ride and handling
Despite a competitively low kerb weight, the Accent Active feels solid and sturdy on the road. As with the roomy cabin, it feels chunky and substantial, which should most impress those migrating from a larger car to this smaller segment.
In terms of ride quality for occupants, however, the Hyundai is among the least impressive in the segment.
The sensibly broad (70-aspect) sidewalls of the 14-inch tyres, in concert with a longer wheelbase than most rivals, should help the suspension to filter out road irregularities. Not so, because the ageing chassis is both fidgety on ostensibly smooth surfaces and abrupt over larger hits.
The upside is impressive control on touring roads, where the Accent never feels floaty.
Its handling is nothing special, though, with the alacrity and poise of a Mazda2 all but missing.
As with the suspension, the hydraulically assisted mechanical steering becomes more impressive when winding lock on and off through touring-road corners, where response becomes decently tight. Around town, the weighting is oddly heavy and lumpy.
Safety and servicing
Six airbags (including dual front, front-side and full-length curtain protection), ABS and switchable electronic stability control (ESC) are standard on the Active.
ANCAP has tested the Hyundai Accent and it scored five stars with 35.66 out of 37 points.
Hyundai’s lifetime servicing package includes annual/15,000km checks at a cost of $239 for each of the first three dealership visits, followed by a $339/$239/$345 trio.
The Accent Active provides light-car qualities that many rivals do not, simply because they cannot.
Larger exterior dimensions simply translate to greater interior space, although this Hyundai further capitalises on its size with a smartly padded rear seat, nicely furnished trim pieces and a solid combination of equipment for the price.
Although on paper the Accent seems competitively contemporary, there is also no escaping that for performance, economy, suspension comfort and dynamic agility, this five-year-old model has started to fall towards the tail-end of the class.
Together with a strong five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and affordable servicing, however, the focus is clearly on practicality and pragmatism with this larger light car.
Mazda2 Neo automatic from $16,990 plus on-road costs
Spirited engine and dynamics with fun cabin design, but costly.
Toyota Yaris Ascent from $16,490 plus on-road costs
Basic to drive, but small and nippy model works best in city.
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