Hyundai’s Accent has established itself as one of the best-built, better-performing choices in the small car segment of the passenger car market – characteristics which helped win the model nomination this year as a finalist in South Africa’s Car of the Year competition.
Now a new derivative joins the line-up – the Accent Hatch, a sleek and sporty-looking three-door variant, like the sedan powered by a similarly high-tech, 1,6-litre engine.
Compact on the outside but big on the inside the Hatch reinforces Hyundai’s philosophy of offering high value at an affordable price, the interior plush with a long list of standard features.
Powertrain, chassis and suspension have been optimised to provide responsive, fuel-efficient performance, well-balanced handling and top-notch ride comfort. Generous warranty coverage is another plus, Hyundai backing the Hatch with a 5 year / 150 000km warranty and a two-year / 45 000km service plan.
“The Accent sedan has been a very successful model for us,” says Stanley Anderson, Marketing Director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa. “Since its launch in July 2006, the car has received rave reviews and our sales have reflected the fact. It makes us very proud as well as grateful. The pinnacle of the derivative’s success was its nomination for Car of the Year.
“The new Accent Hatch is a wonderful addition to the Accent stable. It appeals to a slightly different type of buyer in the Accent segment. The Hatch is all about an individual lifestyle and owning a vehicle that compliments that lifestyle.”
Though aspects of the Hatch’s exterior styling bear similarities to that of the sedan’s, the overall look is sleek and upscale, the crafted nose underlining the potential for fast-paced efficiency, the defined haunches at the rear adding elements of cute athleticism.
Twin slivers of glass in the form of recessed fog lamps have been sculptured low down in the front bumper, helping to underline the visual appeal of the large, widely spaced, chrome-beveled headlight clusters on each side of the swept back bonnet.
Like the front, the flanks have been styled to impart athletic presence, with agility and strength well proportioned in a balanced combination of smooth lines and flowing curves.
The Hatch is fitted with imposing 16-inch alloy rims and racy, 205/45 low-profile tyres, the rubber filling the wheel arches to heighten impressions of sporty agility. At the rear, the taut, truncated rump emphasizes the athletic theme, the muscular proportions of the decked tailgate punctuated by pertinent wrap-around taillight clusters at each corner.
Inside the cabin, the dashboard design is straight-forward but attractive – a mixture of organically styled curves that place major controls within comfortable reach of the driver, leaving a neat arrangement of dials with analogue faces easily readable.
The structure is solid, the refined, modular theme helping to lift the impression of comfort and quality to upper class levels. Seats are upholstered in Hyundai’s deluxe textured cloth, carpets feel soft and substantial while convenience features include electrically powered windows front and rear and similarly powered and heated exterior mirrors.
The layout of the centrally placed fascia console – which includes controls for an MP3 compatible audio system with CD player, as well as for the vehicle’s air-conditioner – makes it easy for driver or passenger to access the switch gear.
The interior is roomy and airy, the rear seats able to fold in a 60:40 split so that large objects can be accommodated in the boot – already ranked as one of the widest and longest in class. Head, leg, shoulder and hip room both front and rear are generous.
The driver’s seat is adjustable for height, reach and rake while the power assisted steering offers tilt adjustment on the column to facilitate a comfortable driving position.
Other practical refinements include height adjustable headrests on all seats, height adjustable front seatbelts, cup holders front and rear, map pockets in the front doors and behind the front seats, a light in the boot, a remote fuel flap release, intermittent windscreen wiper function and a rear window demister.
Like the sedan, the Hatch is powered by Hyundai’s four-cylinder, 1,6-litre DOHC engine fitted with Continuously Variable Valve Timing technology – CVVT. The combination of a double overhead camshaft and CVVT is designed to give the unit a broad power band and improve torque characteristics, simultaneously increasing fuel efficiency and reducing exhaust emissions.
The CVVT unit is positioned on the exhaust camshaft and controls the intake valve timing by advancing or retarding the intake cam in relation to the exhaust cam. The system, noted for its ability to help the engine breathe better, increases volumetric and thermodynamic efficiency, which helps the unit deliver improved performance at high rpm and, by optimising valve overlap, reduce NOx emissions.
The engine produces 82kW at 6 000 rpm, torque peaking at 145Nm at the 4 500 rpm mark. While the figures put the Accent’s powerplant in the top echelon of comparable motors, the low emission factor also helps the unit to be among the cleanest burning of its type, classified in the US in the Ultra Low Emission category.
Designed and developed by Hyundai, the Accent’s powerplant is regarded as a tough but technologically advanced unit – engineered for the long haul – the rigid block cast from iron and the head from lightweight aluminum.
The unit drives the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission that utilises optimised gearing for quicker acceleration and sportier dynamic ability. The unit is designed to offer the driver improved shift feel and more preciseness when changing up or down.
The Hatch’s suspension comprises MacPherson type struts at the front and a coupled torsion beam axle at the rear, the underpinnings working in conjunction with fast-acting, gas filled shock absorbers.
The ride has been optimised for sporty comfort, the chassis tuned for quick responsiveness. Speed sensitive power steering is accurate, requiring little more than three turns from lock to lock.
Brakes utilise a dual diagonal, boosted split circuit with a pressure proportioning valve. The large front discs are ventilated for better cooling and are linked to a four-wheel, four-channel, four-sensor ABS system that incorporates electronic brake force distribution (EBD). Like the sedan’s, rear brakes are of the drum type.
Handling is well balanced and predictable. By improving body rigidity and applying an optimised noise, vibration and harshness strategy, Hyundai engineers have successfully worked to improve smoothness and reduce intrusive decibel levels in the cabin, using reinforced panels at vulnerable points throughout the vehicle to soften the effects of road noise.
The design of the passenger cell includes high tensile cabin reinforcement, side impact beams, strategically sited crumple zones at the front and rear, airbags for the driver and front passenger, anti-submarining seats and pre-tensioning seat belts.
A transponder immobilizer system and remote keyless entry, along with a seat belt buckle up warning and full sized spare wheel, also form part of the Hatch’s safety arsenal.
In introducing the new Accent in 2006, Hyundai South Africa reinforced its reputation for delivering a high-quality, high-value vehicle, a model deemed by some to represent the purest expression of the company’s approach to car making.
The Hatch builds on that reputation, offering more style, sophistication and sportiness than before, along with newfound practicality, good interior space and impressive levels of power and efficiency.
In all, the Hatch represents a bold stroke in a price sensitive segment, the model’s standards of fit and finish, sporty dynamics, sleek styling, comfort features, safety equipment and practicality designed to reset expectations in the market in which it competes.