When Hyundais were first sold in Australia, they were inexpensive little transportation appliances that were not known for their charisma. Inexpensive was the operative word, as nothing on early models felt expensive or particularly well made. Rental agencies and company fleet buyers loved them, but for private buyers, the low price was the only thing that was truly attractive.
The Hyundai Excel was finally phased out in 2000, and South Korea’s new light car finally got some style. There was a European-like front end, and the three-door hatch made an attempt at sportiness. The Hyundai Accent wasn’t exactly a head-turner, but it did look better than the vanilla Excel. It was slightly better to drive too, thanks mostly to extra sound-deadening material.
The standard 1.5L DOHC 16V engine had been modified to offer more torque at lower rpms, and the optional automatic transmission could vary shift timing, based on the current driving style. It was no Alfa Romeo, but for an inexpensive car, it wasn’t too bad.
In 2003, the Hyundai Accent received a makeover, becoming the LC Series-II. There was a smoother front fascia, a bigger 1.6L engine, a new dash, more comfortable seats, and new suspension/steering geometry. These weren’t massive changes, but they helped the Hyundai Accent to become more popular.
For 2006, the all-new MC Hyundai Accent got longer, wider, and taller. This provided a much roomier cabin, and the stiffened chassis allowed for a more comfortable ride, along with better handling too.
Now a serious small car contender, the MC Hyundai Accent had a more powerful version of the LC’s 1.6L and a lot of new safety gear as well. It included four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake force distribution. Dual front airbags came standard as well, along with revised side impact door beams and front seatbelt pre-tensioners.
In 2011, Hyundai released a brand new Accent, complete with their signature ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language, and a new diesel model called the Hyundai Accent CRDi. In this guise, the little Accent thumps out 260Nm of twist, while coddling you in a mass of luxury-level kit. In ‘Premium’ trim, the Hyundai Accent is available with features normally reserved for more expensive cars. And it has lots of safety equipment too, including 6 airbags, stability/traction control, and a reversing camera.
The LC Hyundai Accent had a twin-cam 16-valve 1.5L that made 76kW and 133Nm of torque. Fuel consumption with the 5-speed manual was around 7.1L/100km.
LC Series-II models got a 1.6L power plant, which produced 78kW and 145Nm of torque. Fuel consumption was similar to the 1.5L. In the MC Hyundai Accent, the 1.6L gains variable valve timing (CVVT), which results in 82kW. Fuel consumption is down to 7.0L/100km in the hatch and 6.8L in the sedan (when equipped with the manual transmission).
The 2011+ RB Hyundai Accent gets power from either a 1.6L petrol that makes 91kW and 158 Nm of torque (6.0L/100km for the hatch and 6.4L/100km for the sedan), or a 1.6L intercooled turbo diesel that makes 94kW and 260Nm of torque. The thrifty, torque-y Hyundai Accent Diesel can achieve an impressive 4.5L/100km with the 6-speed manual or 5.6L/100km with the 6-speed automatic.
The base LC Hyundai Accent came standard with four tyres and a steering wheel. GS and GLS versions can be found with power windows, central locking, power mirrors, and a tilt steering wheel. Series II cars were similarly equipped.
Unlike previous generations of the Hyundai Accent, the MC came bearing gifts. Standard kit included electric windows, electric demisting side mirrors, remote central locking, a CD player with steering wheel controls, air-conditioning with pollen filtration, and an alarm. Clearly, Hyundai was no longer content with just being an inexpensive car company on the market.
Standard kit on the RB Hyundai Accent includes electric windows and mirrors, keyless entry with alarm, air-conditioning, and iPod/USB/Bluetooth connectivity. Options include leather, parking sensors, and remote starting.
Early versions of the Hyundai Accent competed against such cars as the Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Echo, Nissan Pulsar, and Honda Civic. Those cars are generally considered superior to the LC Accent, and they are a lot more expensive too. The MC Hyundai Accent contended against such light cars as the Ford Festiva, Mazda2, and Toyota Yaris. But for the first time, the Hyundai offered more car for the money.
The RB Hyundai Accent is going after upmarket competitors liked the Ford Festiva and VW Polo, by offering a premium-feeling small car for less money. The Hyundai Accent diesel is also more powerful than the oil-burning Ford Festiva.