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Reader test: Hyundai Accent

2009-08-19 07:57

Divesh Nair

I consider myself something of a car enthusiast. A Hyundai Accent probably does not grab the attention of the average enthusiast, but by the end of my review you will hopefully see it in the same glowing light that I do.

The Accent is based upon the same floorplan as the Kia Rio, although I do think the Rio has the slightly sharper styling . Its looks can best be described as inoffensive. It reminds me of the kid in school who always had his shirt tucked in and wore shiny shoes. Neat but boring.

Switching to the interior, it is all well laid out with good ergonomics, as you would expect, considering the dash architecture is shared with the Rio. It has a high spec level, electric windows, aircon, beautiful MP3 Clarion CD player (since superseded with a Hyundai-branded item) and map reading lights.

The two-tone dash, with light grey on the lower half and dark plastic for the top, does break up the monotony and brings a bit of a breezy atmosphere inside.

The door panels however, are full plastic. Not a sign of fabric anywhere. Surely wouldn’t have cost them a fortune to just insert a fabric panel in the doors to match the seat upholstery.

Build quality on the car however is excellent. I have covered 39 500 km thus far, with absolutely no rattles or creaks at all. The dash plastics are hard, but at this price, I can’t complain.

A gem

The engine though, is an absolute gem. 1.6-litre with CVVT (that stands for Continuously Variable Valve Timing) and with a healthy output of 82 kW. The car doesn’t have much oomph low down but it revs with alacrity, and is great fun to go zinging up the gears.

Gear changes are slightly notchy, and the 'box doesn’t like to be hurried, but it is precise.

Fuel economy too is excellent, much lighter than my previous 1.4 Corsa Lite.

On the road, the steering is a trifle light but accurate, ride and handling strike a good balance between comfort and sportiness. I would prefer a nice set of 15-inch wheels and lower profile tyres, over the standard 14-inch wheels and tyres, to improve grip, but I don't think I'd want to sacrifice the good ride quality. Old age catching up with me, I guess.

The best thing

If I have thus far sounded like I am not ecstatic about my car, please don’t get me wrong, because I have saved the best for last, which is the price.

In February 2007, I paid R120 000 for it, with alarm system, smash-and-grab tint, luxury carpet set and licence and reg. No other small sedan comes close on value, not even remotely.

Yaris and Polo, in 1.3- and 1.4-guise respectively, cost more than 10 grand more at the time, with far less power and similar spec level.

The Accent even comes with a two-year/45 000 km service plan. To my mind it is probably the most value-for-money vehicle you can buy in SA today.

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