Road Tests / Car Reviews: Hyundai Accent Elite 2014 second review

Road Tests / Car Reviews: Hyundai Accent Elite 2014 second review

DSC_0005 Car manufacturers often find that a popular model will often become the victim of its own success, as each new generation of a car line becomes bigger and more expensive.

To a certain degree this applies to several Hyundai models, notably the new generation i30 which has matured into a competitor for the VW Golf and Toyota Corolla with specification and price tags to match.

DSC_0020I’m not decrying the success of the i30 hatch, its a very good car, but its growth into a full C segment car has left room for another Hyundai model to better bridge the gap between it and the compact i20.

Enter stage left the more powerful and better equipped Hyundai Accent Elite five-door hatchback which has received a significant makeover for the 2014 model year to boost its appeal to people who want a small hatchback but don’t want to give up the performance or luxury they have enjoyed in bigger vehicles.

image76645_bFrom a design perspective the Hyundai Accent hatch has a similar look and style to the bigger i30 hatch, but retains some individual characteristics, particularly at the rear of the car, so you don’t feel as though you are driving a clone of a larger car.

Hyundai have also long since shrugged off it’s reputation as a maker of cheap and cheerful vehicles, the current range on offer in New Zealand is well engineered, well built, and well specified and it’s not exactly cheap either.

For example the Accent Elite carries a retail price of $35,990, which on face value is getting a bit pricey for a light car in the segment, but then on closer inspection of the specification and the engineering thats gone into this model – the value equation becomes quickly apparent.

image76644_bThe Accent Elite models enjoy a stylish black tone interior with leatherette trim, as well as central locking, engine immobiliser, and key-less entry and start. The car is also fitted with cruise control, 16-inch machined-face alloy wheels, projector beam headlights with LED positioning lamps, automatic dusk-sensing operation and headlight escort function.

You also get USB/iPod connectivity, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, steering wheel mounted controls, climate controlled air-conditioning, and side mirror mounted indicators.

Further differentiation includes a rear aero spoiler and Elite badge on the rear hatch and above the front wheel arches.

The other nice touch for the model year 2014 Accent is the bright new colour Sunflower that adorned our test vehicle, and is exclusive to the Elite models.

DSC_0007Under the bonnet the Accent Elite boasts a livelier direct injection Gamma four-cylinder engine with dual-continuously variable valve timing which develops an output of 103kW/6300rpm and a torque rating of 167Nm/4850rpm. This is 13kW and 11Nm more than the multi point injection unit (MPI) in the other Accent models.

The Accent Elite is equipped with a six-speed sequential automatic rather than the four-speed unit used in the MPI engine and therefore Hyundai quotes average consumption of 6.6L/100km and C02 emissions of 158g/km.

DSC_0012The other major change to the Accent Elite is the suspension package which was fettled in Australia by Hyundai Motor Company Australia engineers in collaboration with their engineering colleagues at Hyundai in Korea.

To achieve the unique suspension tune for the Accent Elite, the engineers carried out more than 37 real world evaluations, as well as conducting two closed high-speed evaluations at the Marulan Circuit, south west of Sydney.

More than 20 different front damper and 17 rear damper settings were evaluated by the engineers during the refinement process. This lead to the rear dampers being changed from twin-tube to high-performance mono tube Mando units.

Hyundai also increased the front spring rate by 4%, and decreased the rear spring rate by 5%, as well as decreasing the thickness of the front stabiliser bar, which the company claims delivers sharper turn-in, quicker response and enhanced body control as well as a supple ride.

On the road we found the Accent Elite did indeed deliver on it’s promise of being a nimble and lively light hatchback, and regardless of whether we were driving through the city or out on the motorway, it was quiet, composed and comfortable.

Power delivery from the engine was also very good, although at times we had difficulty staying under the speed limit, the 1.6-litre GDI seems happier tootling around at 60km/h rather than the legal limit of 50km/h in urban areas.

Thankfully the fourth generation Accent hatch has remained true to the dimensions of its three predecessor generations, the car has remained around 4.2 metres long, but since the models introduction the wheelbase has grown from 2400mm to the current 2570mm which provides the roomy cabin space.

DSC_0021You can easily fit five people in the Accent Elite, but for longer trips four occupants is preferable. The boot space of 370 litres is incredibly generous for a car of this size, while we didn’t try jamming in metres of nova flow drainage pipe, such as the bloke in the current Hyundai television commercial, we certainly managed to get weekend luggage for four people in quite easily.

One caveat though is the rear view, thanks to the sloping design of the hatchback, the rear glass aperture is not that large and the Accent Elite really does need both the rear-view camera and reversing sensors, purely from a safety perspective.

The Accent Elite packs a lot of features and value into a light car and I can’t help but feel that it will appeal to many people who want the luxuries of a larger car but prefer the footprint and the economy of a smaller one.

And you can have a more conservative colour if you wish!

Pros

  • Nimble city cruiser
  • Excellent specification
  • Loved the vibrant colour

Cons 

  • Black leather gets very hot when parked in the sun
  • Stereo quality could have been better
  • No manual option in Elite

 

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