Car Review: Hyundai - Accent  Series 94 (3 stars)

Average. The Hyundai Accent is competitively priced and comes with reasonable equipment and a five-year warranty. While it offers a surprising amount of interior space and rides acceptably well, its handling and safety features trail behind the standards set by many rivals.

With its curvy lines and solid front face, Hyundai's three-door Accent is a contemporary, smart-looking supermini. There's only one three-door body style, one "Atlantic" trim and one 1.4-litre eninge on offer.

The quality of Hyundai interiors has been steadily improving over the years and the Accent feels solidly built inside. However while the materials do feel as though they will last the distance, they are not as expensive looking as you'll find in a Volkswagen Polo for example. The dashboard certainly isn't as stylish-looking as what's on offer in a Renault Clio or a Peugeot 207.

While the Accent may not be the last word in style inside, Hyundai has paid attention to the practical side of things and there's a surprising amount of space on offer. There's enough front and rear legroom to allow four six-footers to fit inside the Accent, at least for short trips. There's not really enough headroom in the back of the car to make longer journeys viable though. Headroom is better up front, although the Accent doesn't offer as wide a range of driving positions as it might. The boot provides a decent amount of stowage space, but while the back seats fold down, they don't fold completely flat.

Hyundai's 0-62mph time of 12.3-seconds does not hint at earth-shattering performance and that's pretty much how things feel out on the road. Steep motorway hills soon steal breath from the 1,399c 4-cylinder 16-valve engine, especially if the car is fully laden. The engine copes well enough with city traffic, but it does loose refinement when revved hard. The five-speed manual gearbox gives a reasonably sick change, the clutch is light and easy to use and the brakes provide decent stopping power.

While modern superminis like the Renault Clio, Peugeot 207 and Volkswagen Polo have become very adept at giving a 'big car' feel to their driving characteristics, Hyundai doesn't quite figure in such a premier league yet with the Accent. The car's handling is perfectly competent, but there is little poise or polish to it. For example, while the steering is direct and accurate, it is disappointingly devoid of feel or feedback. While the car turns into corners quite positively, there is some body-roll to contend with. The light steering makes the Accent easy to park in town and the ride remains comfortable on most surfaces. The Accent's chassis does the job well enough; it's just that the little nuances that can put a hint of a smile on your face are missing from the package.

Buying a car like the current Hyundai Atlantic 1.4 Accent is always going to be something of a double-edged sword. On the plus side it is competitively priced at £9,105 for the manual version and £9,905 for the automatic model and there is a reasonable level of equipment. Running costs should be reasonable on both with the petrol engine returning a combined 45.6mpg in manual guise, but proving thirstier in automatic trim with 40.9mpg. But of course that fuel economy is no match from the 55mpg that can be found with many diesel-engined rivals.For many customers the clincher to the deal will be the fact that the Hyundai comes with a five-year warranty as standard.

But while that does bring peace of mind, there are clear downsides to purchasing the Accent. It doesn't drive quite as well as some rivals - although for many buyers that won't be too much of a concern. But the fact that the Hyundai isn't likely to hold onto its value as well as some competitors needs to be highlighted. In addition, the Hyundai's less than comprehensive safety equipment needs to be considered.

Of course items such as driver and passenger airbags, Anti-Lock-Brakes and Electronic Brake Force Distribution are provided as standard, but there are no side airbags or any form of Electronic Stability Control on offer, not even on the options list.

There are most impressive choices around than the Accent, of course they're mostly more expensive choices too. If you live near to a friendly, efficient Hyundai dealer, the Accent is worth putting on your short list.

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Hyundai Accent Series 94 StatisticsCar Reviews

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