2018 Hyundai Accent Hatchback
Only for Canada!
- 박재승 (email@example.com) --
- 18 May 2018
By James Park
Here’s a bold statement: the new Hyundai Accent topples the Honda Fit to stand alone at the top as the best sub-compact car sold in North America… at least for now.
Granted, this category is not where the manufacturers puff out their chests to wage fiercest battles to capture more market shares. Nonetheless, this takes nothing away from the 2018 Accent’s much deserved appraisal as one of the nicest small vehicles around, not just in its own segment.
Compared to its greatest rival, the Fit, the Accent comes across as slightly more refined. Both cars put up similar power numbers; but the Accent’s engine is less buzzy. The Accent also boasts nicer interior, including better infotainment system. And to this writer’s admittedly subjective perusal, the Accent looks more stylish, inside and out.
Talking about being subjective, the Accent also skates ahead of its corporate cousin, the Kia Rio, in the powetrain’s overall smoothness. (Then again, the Rio I drove last fall was automatic, whereas the Accent came with a slick stick. This might have skewered my judgement.)
In Canada, the Accent comes in two flavours: sedan and hatchback. Significantly, the hatch is only available here. Hyundai realizes that Canadians go for smaller cars and that they deserve more choices in this matter. The heated steering wheel is also only available in Canada.
The Accent sedan closely resembles its bigger sibling, the Elantra. The hatchback, however, has style of its own. They are both handsome cars, but guess which one this writer likes more.
The base ‘L’ hatchback starts from competitive $14,599 but the buyer needs to know how to drive a manual. Equipped with six-speed automatic, the LE is $2,750 more expensive than the L. The mid-level GL with manual is $17,549 and with auto is $18,799.
The top-of-the-line GLS test-vehicle with six-speed stick comes just under $20,000 at $19,849. One needs to add $1,250 for the GLS auto.
Regardless of the trim level, the only available engine is 1.6 litre direct-injected and naturally aspirated four-cylinder that pumps out class-leading maximum 130 horses and 119 lb-ft of torque.
The engine provides ample power not only to keep up with the traffic, but oftentimes to surge ahead, requiring the driver to actively look out for police cruisers.
Delivering power to the front wheels, the Accent’s six-speed manual is silky smooth and intuitive. The lever slides crisply into each gate and the clutch action is light and progressive. This is an ideal manual car for the beginners.
The taut chassis and firm suspension help with the car’s handling, which is probably on par with the Fit. The Accent dives into corners with confidence and understeers predictably at the limits.
Nobody is going to expect S-Class-like sumptuous ride from a sub-compact. The Accent’s ride is jarring at times over rough surfaces, but not enough to detract from its overall drivability.
The car’s interior is cleanly designed and inviting. In the GLS, the level of sophistication and opulence seems much better than average. Sure, there are hard plastic surfaces everywhere, but you need to keep the price down somehow.
The thick leather-wrapped steering wheel has the right sporting look and feel. As mentioned, it is also heated. The cloth seats are comfortable and supportive. The front seats have three-stage heaters and the rear passengers get to enjoy more than expected legroom.
The GLS also comes with such options as power sunroof, keyless entry and push-button ignition, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, rear-view camera, satellite radio, etc.
Like all other sub-compacts, the Accent is quite frugal. The official fuel numbers are 8.3 litres per 100 km in city and 6.2 litres on highway on regular juice. For the week of almost equal amounts of city and highway jaunts, this writer observed about 6.7 litres.
The Canada only Accent Hatchback is a handsome, refined, adequately powerful, efficient and practical small car that is easy on the wallet, both in short and long term. What more can you ask for? (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)
2018 Hyundai Accent Hatchback GLS
Engine: 1.6 litre four
Power: 130 hp/119 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-spd manual
Fuel: 8.3 litres per 100km (city), 6.2 litres (highway)
Best: styling, refinement, power
Worst: harsh ride over rough surfaces
Competition: Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa Note, Ford Fiesta
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