Hyundai Accent hatchI first encountered the Hyundai Accent Diesel Hatch last October during one of several Saturday Testfests held by the Car Awards Group, Inc. (CAGI) to determine the 2012-2013 COTY & TOTY. We had the 1.6 GLS CRDi VGT A/T variant that day, and although the Hyundai reps still couldn’t give us an official price tag, we were excited about the possibilities for this B-segment (sub-compact) beauty.

Fast forward to May 2013.

I received an SMS from Rich Manalad of HARI informing me that the test unit I was scheduled for was suddenly unavailable, and asked if I’d accept an Accent CRDi M/T instead. Sure!

The unit delivered to the office was light blue, or Clean Blue, as the official papers stated. Like the unit we tested seven months back, the second generation, five-door hatch featured the fluidic lines that Hyundai vehicles are known for, and included a rear spoiler with a high-mounted stop lamp. This variant came with 175/70/R14 tires and standard 8-spoke steel rims that, while ordinary looking, are really not bad, IMHO.

The cabin of the Accent features a clean black and chrome dashboard and interior. Although the dash is quite Spartan and doesn’t come with bells and whistles like an LCD screen and navigation, the overall layout of the console is cohesive, with all the knobs and buttons located where they are supposed to be. The tilt adjustable steering wheel with built-in audio controls adds a premium overall feel to the whole experience. The central display is well lit, and the onboard trip computer displays info like Trip A and B, Distance to Empty, Fuel Consumption, as well as Average Speeds. The onboard trip computer also has a Shift Indicator that reminds the driver to shift up for better fuel consumption. The standard radio that comes with the variant is a one-DIN number that had the usual tuner / CD / MP3 combo with USB, Aux in and Bluetooth connectivity.

The door panels featured a black and gray fabric that complemented the overall look of the cabin. Thankfully, there was no trace of the (awful) apple green material that came with the KDM (Korean Domestic Market) version we had the first time. As expected, the driver’s door had the control buttons for the power side mirrors, the central door lock and the power windows that unfortunately lacked the auto-up feature.

Being of above average height, the vertical seat adjustments were well appreciated. The driver before me was apparently on the shorter side and I literally hit the roof when I first sat in the driver’s seat. The Accent is actually roomier than it looks, and has better ergonomics than others in its class. Although it is rated to seat five, four adults is a more accurate number to travel comfortably. The contents of the boot is concealed by a removable tonneau cover, and with less passengers, the back seats can be folded 60:40 to accommodate long objects inside the cabin. The generous cargo space has its drawback though, and it comes in the diminished size of the rear window that almost renders the rearview mirror useless.

Maneuvering the hatch is a breeze, thanks to its motor driven power steering. However, while I see the appeal this may have to most drivers, old school me prefers a bit more road feedback because I’m still uneasy with the slightly floating feeling.

The star feature of the hatch is its 1.6-litre U-II CRDi VGT engine that delivers 126 horses and 260 nm of torque. This powerful yet fuel efficient engine is mated with a 6-speed manual transmission that has an additional gear to help keep the engine at its optimal range, resulting in better fuel economy. As with any diesel-powered vehicle, there is the initial shake when the vehicle is powered on, and again when you kill the engine. That plus a slightly louder-than-normal engine noise (normal being the quiet petrol-fed engines) are the only telltale signs you are driving a diesel engine. I had no problem with acceleration as underpowered is one thing this car is not. By the time I (begrudgingly) turned over the keys of the Accent, the on-board computer said I was doing 8 liters/100kms (12.5 kms/liter) even in crazy city traffic.

Both the 6-speed manual and 4-speed automatic variants of the Accent hatch are fitted with MacPherson struts and torsion beam suspension, and equipped with four-wheel disc brakes. Safety features include a driver side airbag (dual for the A/T variant), anti-lock braking system, and a basic keyless entry with alarm.

Over all, the Hyundai Accent Hatch 1.6L Diesel 6MT is not only a practical vehicle, but also a great car to have. Its low cost of ownership coupled with its size and performance will not disappoint prospective owners. As a consumer, the ultimate test for any vehicle is if I would consider buying the vehicle for myself, considering my current situation and lifestyle. My husband and I both agree that among the vehicles I (therefore, we) have tested these past months, the Hyundai Accent Hatch 1.6L Diesel 6MT is one of a handful that we’d actually consider buying.

The Hyundai Accent Hatch 1.6L Diesel 6MT is priced at PHP 768,000, (4-speed AT is PHP 868,000) and comes in five body colors: Clean Blue, Carbon Gray, Veloster Red, Sleek Silver and Crystal White.

First published in Gadgets Magazine, June 2013

Words by Mika-Fernandez David