Hyundai Accent

With its fresh looks, the revised Hyundai Accent is aiming to make a splash with buyers on a budget

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The new Accent is good, but when you compare it to the leap Hyundai made with the Santa Fe SUV, the hatch proves to be a bit of a disappointment. Build quality is still questionable, the engine is not as refined as rival powerplants and the chassis needs some work. However, if you want a well equipped, roomy family car at a supermini price, then look no further.

With its fresh looks, the revised Hyundai Accent is aiming to make a splash with buyers on a budget when it goes on sale this week. The £8,995 machine is charged with bringing the brand back into the reckoning in the competitive family car market, and is promising to pull out all the stops to make it happen.

However, the journey is unlikely to be easy. Although the new design and low price tag is appealing, the car is available only as a three-door, and has a limited engine choice. Trim selection is also poor, as for the time being only Atlantic-equipped models are on offer.

Open the door, however, and it’s clear that there has been a concerted effort to increase quality. The dashboard is well laid out and there’s plenty of seat adjustment, so getting comfortable is not a problem. Access to the rear is acceptable, thanks to front chairs that tilt forward.

Despite these improve­ments, there are still problems. Some of the plastics are shiny and hard, and the parcel shelf doesn’t lift up with the rear hatch.

The new 96bhp 1.4-litre engine is far more impressive, pulling well even at speed. It gets coarse above 4,000rpm, but the sweet-shifting five-speed manual transmission means changing up early is no hardship.

Throw the Accent at a corner, and you’ll find the steering is direct, if a little lifeless, and the hatch resists under­steer impressively. The damping could be more finely tuned, as large bumps unsettle the car, and the ride can become floaty at times. Yet with the Atlantic model weighing in at £8,995, there’s no deny­ing that Hyundai is offering buyers a great deal of equipment and space for their money.

Although the Accent doesn’t worry the class leaders, it isn’t as far away as you might think. And there’s always that generous five-year warranty to sweeten the deal. In short, the car is a huge improvement on its predecessor.

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