- Published: Wednesday, 17 December 2014 09:57
Singapore - It’s been some time since Singaporeans have been able to ‘put on’ an Accent, since the popular third-gen model was last sold here in 2010.
We all know the Koreans have made progress by leaps and bounds in recent times - Kia and Hyundai have both reached a level where the quality and drive of their machines can be seen on equal terms with the Japanese, and in some ways, even the Germans.
It’s something that shows up in stark contrast if you try and recall the previous Accent. Admit it, like us you tried to form a mental image of it in your head and came up with something hazy and grey-beige.
The new machine’s the fourth-gen model, which was actually launched globally in 2011, so now it debuts in Singapore technically in the middle of its life-cycle, hence this facelift.
It’s obviously a new Hyundai. That you can tell from a single glance, with a front end very reminiscent of more recent offering such as the Elantra and i30. Globally the Accent is offered with the all-important LED daytime running lights in front, although Singapore’s version lacks this.
This actually offers an important insight into the nature of the Accent’s return. It was absent from Singapore precisely because of very high COE prices and now that they’re lower, the Accent can finally make a case for itself.
Can't get enough Accent? We drove the little sedan 1,400km around Tasmania. Check out January's issue of CarBuyer #229, out on news stands soon, for our feature story on an epic road trip. And if $99k is $99k too much, Hyundai's giving away a free Accent with any test drive at its showroom from now til mid January.
Another thing is it’s obvious Hyundai needed to make this car as affordable as possible. That sounds counterintuitive, since technically every car should be as un-expensive as it can, but around the $100,000 mark it becomes crucial because of the loan restrictions.
Which brings us to the car's key point: After it's CEVS rebate, it costs $99,999 with COE.
So it’s no surprise the Accent is offered with one trim level and it’s quite a basic spec at that - you don’t get steering wheel remote controls, Bluetooth or climate control for instance, but the Accent isn’t Spartan and uninviting.
For a compact sedan, the interior plastics don’t give the impression of overwhelming economy, while piano black trim on the shifter and radio surrounds do improve the interior ambience a little, as does the ‘dark LCD’ display for the radio, the latter which features USB/AUX connectivity.
The car’s almost 14cm longer overall - bringing it very close to its Elantra brother, actually - and has 70mm more between the wheels which results in a very commodious passenger space for a car of this segment. At 2,570mm, the Accent’s only 3cm short of the current class leader, the Honda City. Boot space is good, at 389-litres, and the seat split fold 60/40 for more stowage room.
It’s very good at low speed, easy to judge and entirely predictable without being too understeer-y, while the 1.4-litre multi-port injection engine feels perkier off the line than our rental Accent did.
At high speed the steering gets a little light, indicating the Accent’s very much meant to stick to legal limits as its natural state, there’s little wind noise although tyre roar is apparent.
100bhp and a CVT means it’s not much to crow about in terms of acceleration, but in this segment it’s entirely acceptable and par for the course. The good thing is, with this 1.4 and CVT pairing, like most modern Korean cars it’s not too hard to drive frugally, sub-7.0L/100km figures being possible with planning and subtle eco-driving. Speaking of which there’s an Eco mode which retards the drivetrain a little to help you along with that.
Hyundai’s ‘returned’ to its humble roots with the entry-level sedan, the Accent. It’s about as no-frills as Korean cars get nowadays, but still packs important features like dual airbags, front and rear disc brakes and even ESP, all of which you'd expect to be standard on a regular sedan, but which many budget machines in fact lack.
It really begins to make sense when you put it next to cars that cost similar: Its key rivals are similarly basic machines like the Mitsubishi Attrage and Nissan Almera, other than basic compact hatches like the Chevrolet Sonic or Suzuki Swift, but arguably the Accent has the edge over them in terms of space and safety equipment.
In the words of Han Solo, "She may not look like much kid, but she's got it where it counts."
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 1,368cc, 16V, inline 4
Power 100bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 133Nm at 4000rpm
Top Speed 185km/h
0-100km/h 11.8 seconds
Fuel efficiency 6.2L/100km
Price $99,999 with COE