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Hyundai have gone beyond sister-brand Kia in creating niches between segments in the local market.  Their standard classification range starts with the i10, i20, and i30, but now they’ve brought in ‘inter-segment’ vehicles such as the Grand i10 and Accent hatchback, the latter of which was the focus of our latest TCR road test.

The Accent hatchback slots in between the i20 and i30, and is known overseas as the i25.  The 1.6 Fluid Manual on test benefits from its larger and smaller siblings, boasting a light weight of 1035Kg, but utilising the larger 1.6-litre engine found in the i30, developing 91kW @ 6300 rpm and 156Nm @ 4200 rpm.  The ensuing product is one that offers the best of both performance and fuel economy.

The engine, whilst slightly cumbersome in larger applications such as the i30, responds quickly to throttle inputs and carries the light Accent with little effort.  Torque is ample enough to shunt the Accent along with some force, quickly gaining speed and easily managing overtaking manoeuvres without much delay.  Power delivery doesn’t feel particularly torquey, but the hatch gathers pace rather effortlessly, and provides a fair bit of joy when wringing out the revs for that extra bit of pace.  The 6-speed manual transmission completes the drivetrain package, offering smooth, slick shifts with solid predictability, mated to a well-weighted clutch that bites gently from the moment it’s released.

The Accent Hatch features more than just a potent drivetrain though.  Borrowing from its larger sibling, the cabin insulation and ride refinement is of a premium standard.  Whilst the cabin materials may lack the soft-touch feel of the i30, the build is solid, and there are no rattles and squeaks to contend with.  Road noise is kept out with superb insulation, cosseting the inhabitants in a cosy environment with standard features such as air-con, a radio/CD/MP3 audio system with USB, Bluetooth and auxiliary input.  The only major issue with the cabin was the rearward visibility from the driver’s seat, due to the narrow rear windscreen – park distance control is however present to offset this.

The ride quality matches the insulation, providing a cosy drive over any road imperfections.  Whilst well damped, the suspension isn’t particularly soft, meaning the Accent is a rather adept handler through bends and corners, and places its small frame on the road comfortably and precisely.  A predictable hydraulically assisted power steering system provided accurate direction changes, offering decent feedback, and weighting up solidly and progressively at higher speeds and through long drawn out curves, giving the Accent a greater sense of stability.

The overwhelming sense of stability and serenity was a recurring trait to the Accent hatch.  Across all road surfaces, and at all speeds, the Accent remained resolutely calm and in control, inspiring confidence and encouraging the driver to merely relax and enjoy the ride with the confidence that nothing could possibly make the daily commute any better than this.

The Hyundai Accent Hatch 1.6 Fluid Manual sits between classes in a move that some might find redundant, and others just plain stupid.  But it offers a best of both worlds situation that no other brand in this segment offers.  Spatially, the Accent hatch is more akin to the i30 – offering large amounts of leg room front and rear and a rather large boot, despite its compact nature – whilst in physical size it’s little bigger than the i20.  It drives with a compact nature and ease of use to it, but combines that with the stability, comfort and refinement of a larger vehicle.  The 1.6-litre engine is well suited to the Accent hatch, and yields fuel consumption figures of 6.6l/100kms whilst providing a more than adequate punch.

Whilst cars are often described as having a ‘vanilla flavour’ when they offer seemingly little, the Accent Hatch takes on an altogether different flavour – it’s a simple one, although rich and creamy and with plenty to offer.  The Accent is the chocolatey goodness that although simple, provides a fantastic base for far more, and even on its own is perfectly satisfying every time.  Some see the inter-segment niches as silly but the Accent Hatchback poses the question; why not buy something great for just a little bit less of your hard-earned money?

The Stats:

Engine Capacity:

1591cc

No. of Cylinders:

4

Max. Power:

91kW @ 6300RPM

Max. Torque:

156Nm @ 4200RPM

Gearbox:

6 Speed Manual

0-100km/h time:

10.2 seconds

Top Speed:

190km/h

Kerb Weight:

1035Kg

Fuel Tank Capacity:

43 litres

Fuel Consumption (Regular driving, combined cycle):

6.6l/100km

Drivetrain

FrontWheel Drive

Price (as tested):

R234 900,00

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Author: Roger Biermann

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