The Accent is an oddly placed model in Hyundai's line up of small cars as it's remarkably similar in size and style to the better selling, yet only marginally larger sibling the i30 - in fact so much so that its existence could be questioned entirely. In real terms to the prospective buyer though, this means very little as the sporty SR 5-door Accent hatch is a well-balanced package of practicality mixed with good old fashion fun.
Hyundai has forged a reputation for building well priced, reliable vehicles that offer great value for money and the SR Accent is certainly no exception. On paper the Hyundai offers a lot more than its closest rivals the Toyota Yaris and Mazda 2. The Accent has a longer warranty period, longer service intervals and a longer capped price service period than its competition. On top of that you'll also get more power, more interior room and cargo space topped with the SR's standard styling and safety features of fog lights, LED daytime running lights and 16 inch machine faced alloy wheels.
Driving the SR Accent is only confirming what the figures show. The first thing you'll notice when you jump in is the amount of interior space and the comfortable driving position. At six feet and three inches tall I'm no garden gnome, but this is the first small car I have ever been in where if I put the seat back to its furthest position, I can't reach the pedals properly. There's enough adjustments in the seating position for just about anyone to find a good, commanding seating position and the rest of the controls are well laid out for ease of driving.
There's still enough room in the back for the kids with the seats fully reclined and let's face it – if you're planning on putting anyone bigger than that in the back on a regular basis, you're probably looking at the wrong type of car. Boot space is ample enough to consider leaving the larger family car at home for your next trip away to save some fuel costs.
Power is surprising from the Hyundai's little 1.6 litre 4 cylinder motor. It features direct fuel injection which is unique to the SR variant over the standard multi-point injection found on the Active model. This gives the SR a power increase of up to 103kW at 6,300rpm and 167 Nm of torque at 4,850 rpm. It begs to be driven like a race car and the power really starts to come on strong very high in the rev range.
The traction control found standard on the SR can be quite lazy at times, letting the tyres give off a fair old sort of a howl before the hoon control system inevitably forces the brakes to bite in hard and attempt a more controlled take off under full power.
The 6-speed manual cog swapper is smooth and effortless to shift, however first gear can sometimes be hard to find and often leads to accidental attempts at third gear take-offs. The shift ratios could be a little more progressive with a big jump between second and third gear often leaving the engine struggling to find enough power to accelerate if it's not been driven hard.
The ride is firm as is to be expected from the SR's sports tuned suspension which features high performance mono-tube shock absorbers, stiffer spring rates and stiffer stabilisers than other Accent models. The benefits are sharp, responsive steering and very little body roll is experienced through high speed cornering. Steering from the motor driven rack and pinion power steering is light with a decent amount of feedback and the Kumho Solus 195/50 r16 tyres perform well and get the job done when cornering hard.
Braking is effective and progressive from the 4-wheel disk brakes which feature 256mm ventilated front disks and 262mm solid rears. Electronic Brake force Distribution and Brake Assist System takes care of the active braking safety features in emergency evasive manoeuvres and stops; and are standard fitment on the SR.
To put the icing on the cake the Hyundai Accent SR comes with a five-star ANCAP safety rating achieved by featuring a combination of active and passive safety systems including Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, automatic dusk-sensing headlights and six air-bags. At a price of $18,990 for the manual, it ticks a lot of boxes and it's as fun to drive as it is practical to own.