Accent on handling, attractive design

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

Sometimes it's pretty tough trying to keep some perspective when putting a car through a road test.

One day you might be cruising around Camps Bay behind the wheel of the latest Aston Martin DB9 which has a whopping -litre engine, and the next you are battling to make it up the N1 highway in a Chev Spark that has an engine just a little bigger than my lawn mower.

I guess it's a bit like spending time in the south of France with Naomi Campbell and then returning home to Bushbuckridge to a girlfriend who hasn't clipped her toenails in two months and has bad breath in the morning.

OK, so I haven't driven an Aston Martin - or spent time with Naomi Campbell for that matter - but what I did do last week was swap the keys to a Hyundai Tiburon V6 for its tiny brother and "starter pack", the Accent.

An attractive design, and definitely bigger than its earlier generations, the Accent is primarily aimed at first-time car buyers, or perhaps those down-grading, lucky enough to afford a brand-new car.

"Looks like a mini-Merc," said a friend of mine when checking out the interior.

My first impression was that it is a bit plastic inside and definitely not as sturdy as some of its competitors - the Mazda2 and the Nissan Tiida come to mind.

The cloth trim looked great on our test car but felt a bit thin. Would like to know how it wears after a couple of years with kids climbing in and out after football practice.

The 1,6litre engine coughs up 82kW and has a claimed top speed of 165kmh - more than enough to get the men in uniform on the side of the road jumping with excitement.

What did I enjoy about the car? Well quite a lot actually. It's a very comfortable ride and gear changes with a 5-speed gearbox are effortless.

It handles very well when cornering, along with braking, which is sharp and precise.

Being a Hyundai, it comes standard with a wide range of extras, which is useful when weighing up your options when purchasing a vehicle.

Power steering, electric windows, CD/radio, aircon and so on are often extras with other vehicles but with the Accent you get them for mahala. Our test car came with front and rear spoilers and attractive alloy wheels. The front spoiler is also home to a set of fog lamps and adds to the sporty image it is trying to project. The new Accent range is priced from R129000 through to R155900 depending on the model.

There are no nasty surprises when purchasing a Hyundai but should something go wrong you have the backing of a motor plan as well as the company's standard new-car warranty of 5 years/150000km. These at least give you some peace of mind.

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