Back during my early University days in the US my Dad persuaded me to move from the East Coast to the West Coast using a car cunningly as an effective lure. It would eventually become my first official car where I logged an astonishing 264,000 kilometers in 4 years. His argument hadn’t been strong enough until that last element was introduced. I bring it up because the choice I had then was between two sedans, a brand new fully loaded 1.5 liter 1990 Hyundai Excel GLS priced at US$6,500.00 and a modestly used 2.0 liter 1987 Honda Accord LXi at the same price. The Accent is the successor of the Excel and because of the latter little car’s incredible success in the US market from 1984 to 1994 with its standard-breaking 10 year warranty to support it, it created the foundation of Hyundai as a force to be reckoned with in the automotive industry.
The conundrum I had back then was settled by a list of requirements that we all discuss before making a purchasing decision. Do I buy new or used? Which has more value for money? Which fulfills my needs from the elusive pride of ownership, to space, comfort, driving dynamics, and driver luxuries? Which will be easier to maintain and eventually dispose down the line? We didn’t risk it then and went for the Honda, a decision I wouldn’t regret however the lessons lingered well on to the birth of C!. We put up C! in June 2001 precisely for us consumers and motorheads to address all our buying concerns combined with instrumented comprehensive testing so that our readers, friends and family would have all the information necessary to make confident buying decisions in the Philippines and beyond.
The Subcompact class cars have come a very long way in such a relatively short time principally because their sales are usually the staple cashflow needed for the companies behind them so competition is very fierce while the consumer consequently benefits. Car buyers today not only have the most number of choices at their proverbial doorstep but the choices are also at their highest quality. Quality and support are now neither a privilege nor an exemption, it’s the reverse. Because of the availability of technology and information manufacturers would now have to exhaustively go out of their way to make an inferior product that no one would want to buy.
Finally established and now dominant, the Koreans in the past two years alone have produced truly exceptional vehicles. Now the Koreans cars are not purchased purely to replace walking or for commercial use or for the longest warranty. They are now realistic products that have become relational objects of desire. Take our cover story car, the all-new Hyundai Accent 1.6 GLS Blue is a very handsome little pocket rocket which exclaims a myriad of promises. Promises that we rigorously tested for every practical measure under every driving condition including track use to extrapolate the definitive results.
Interestingly the new Accent is positioned in South Korea as the “Guy’s Car”, which may be humorous until you actually drive it. There is also a 140 bhp 1.6 liter GDI engine that has a 6-speed and 195/50HR16 tires as an additional variant above the base 1.4 liter and our test car. There will also be a CRDi variant supposedly available within the first half of the year too.
Now forget about what you remember about the previous Accent models, the new car is exponentially better in every way. The new 4th generation Accent rides on a longer wheelbase chassis so both the exterior and interior dimensions are larger in size and roominess compared to previous models. The overall design is deliberately similar to the new Sonata both inside and out, so it can be called a baby Sonata. There are two different front end designs for different markets; we get the more familiar Tucson-look which is also the preferred style. However similar the face maybe, the two cars do not use the same platform.
Much like the class-shattering Sonata, the Accent should also make the same if not more impact with consumers and its sub-compact class competition especially because of its achievable pricing and packaging. If I was in College/University now or a much younger fellow on his first job out of school, this car would be, without a doubt, my number one choice!
The Accent may not be the largest in its class on paper, but in reality it feels like it is. In fact I had to measure up the cars that it competes with just to be sure, the Honda City, Mazda 2, Toyota Vios, and the current king of the segment Ford Fiesta. The Accent is physically smaller than the Honda City only, but larger than every other car in the segment. Past the new corporate identity’s handsome angles and design cues, it’s in the driving where the Accent truly comes unto its own. It feels more substantial on the road yet its steering is extremely light, perhaps too light giving up a bit too much feel for convenience. I was very surprised that Hyundai still used a traditional 4-speed manumatic in its current top-range GLS 1.6 liter Blue edition considering they have spent a fortune developing their own excellent 6-speed units. The Blue moniker signifies Hyundai’s own particular environmental consciousness thrust. To us it means better aerodynamics, less roll resistance in the spindly T-rated 175/70TR14 tires, motor driven power steering, and an ECO instrument cluster reminder.
Unlike the Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta and Suzuki Swift, the top range Accent comes with rear disc brakes like the Toyota Vios and Honda City/Jazz. The Accent’s brake system tested better than its competition but that’s not all it excelled in. Even without the two other stronger engine options, the GLS 1.6 Blue accelerates from any speed harder and with more verve than its competition too which baffles me as most of its competition have far better transmission systems and more technology. The exhaust note sounds like the Accent has a larger displacement powerplant with its deeper and more masculine tones that bests even our C! Fastfleet Mitsubishi Lancer EX GT-A! I do ask Hyundai to install a considerably better horn as the Accents even worse than the units on the Tucson. It’s already a small car; you should have to beg for mercy space too. Furthermore, rear parking reverse sensors in body color should also be standard in the top-of-the-line Accent units.
The cabin once again has very consistent design features in parallel to its bigger brother the Sonata. Once inside the superior NVH again trumps its competition. Even at sustained top speeds at over 190 km/h, the Accent was very planted, quiet and spritely. The steering feel may be light, but it is accurate and the wheel itself is excellent with satellite audio controls laid out very simply but nonetheless effective. It also has a huge trunk that maybe the biggest in its class too. The sound system, both in audio quality and feature-set, is bested only by the class-leading system in the Ford Fiesta S. The seats are very comfortable however the color and leatherette textures could be improved which is a pity because the dashboard design and its mixed surface materials are best in class.
The Accent is definitely a more mature subcompact compared to the current king of the hill Fiesta S. I was astonished that Hyundai speced the car with 14” alloys with T-speed rated tires; it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that size and type of rolling stock let alone drive a car with them installed. Surprisingly, the ride and handling were exemplary so if you hadn’t seen the wheels before getting into the car you would think you were riding in a very loaded top-class small sedan riding on scooter tires. Still the wheels are best suited for the Hybrid version of the Accent, please Hyundai, sell them with the good looking multispoke 16” wheels and meatier tires offered in other markets. The driving performance and its poise would surely improve even further however fuel economy and perhaps ride comfort may suffer a smidgen.
You know what? I really enjoyed driving the new Accent. I boldly proclaim that you cannot get a more complete sedan for less than a million pesos. Until Volkswagen and perhaps the Fiat group of cars come to our shores, the Accent has become the new king of the subcompact cars. It’s not perfect but it is very exceptional. The Accent is a excellent product with the melding of old school driving values combined with modern needs wrapped in a very good looking package, outstanding job Hyundai, you’ve out done yourselves AGAIN!
Specification – 2011 Hyundai Accent GLS 1.6 Blue
Location: Front, transverse
Cylinder block: Aluminum alloy
Cylinder head: Aluminum alloy, dohc per bank,
4 valves per cylinder, Continuously Variable Valve Timing
Fuel and ignition: Multi-point Injection
Max power: 122 bhp @ 6300 rpm
Max torque: 115 lb ft @ 4200 rpm
Drag Coefficient: .28cd
Transmission: 4-speed Sportmatic Automatic, FWD
Front suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, and anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Coupled Torsion-beam and coil springs
L x W x H: 4370mm x 1700mm x 1450mm
Fuel Tank: 43 liters (11.3 gallons)
Brakes: Front 1-piston Calipers Vented 10.3″ (262mm) discs and Rear 1-piston Calipers Solid 10.3″ (262mm) discs, ABS
Wheels: 5.5Jx14” Aluminum Alloy
Tires: 175/70R14 84T Kumho Sulos KH17
Weight: (kerb) 1140 kg. (2508 lbs.)
0-100 km/h: (0-62 mph) 8.8 seconds
Top speed: 196 km/h (123 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 8.2L/100 kms. As tested overall
Price as tested: PhP 808,000.00
C! RATING 10/10