What stands out?

The Hyundai Accent is a light city car that is bigger than most. It has more room inside than Hyundai’s i20, for example – but less than the i30. You can have it as a hatchback or a sedan, and it is well built and comes with a five-year warranty. This review covers the Accent range prior to September 2015

What might bug me?

Getting comfortable in the driver’s seat: you can adjust the steering wheel for height but not for reach.

Establishing whether people in the back have their seatbelts on: the warning lights are hard to see in daylight.

What body styles are there?

Five-door hatchback and four-door sedan.

The sedan is about 15 centimetres longer than the hatch but has no more space for passengers: all the extra length goes into the boot.

All Accents are front-wheel drive, and the Accent is classed as a light car, lower priced.

What features do all Accents have?

A 5.0-inch touchscreen, for controlling the audio system and Bluetooth phone functionality.

Seatbelt reminders for all five occupants.

A full-size spare wheel.

Six airbags: one in front of each front-seat occupant; one outside each front occupant to protect their bodies in a side impact; and side-curtain airbags running down the length of the cabin to protect heads in a side impact.

Electronic stability control, which can help control a skidding or sliding car. All new cars must have this feature.

The Accent is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

The Accent is available with two 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engines, one of which has a more sophisticated fuel injection system that improves performance.

The better engine is fitted to the more expensive models, the Elite and SR. Hyundai labels it GDi, for gasoline direct injection.

Both engines use fuel at about the same rate – 6.1 litres/100km in the official test with a manual gearbox, and about 6.5 litres/100km as an auto (city and country combined).

The manual gearbox in each case is a six-speeder. The auto gearbox fitted to the less costly models, the Actives, is a four-speeder. The auto in the Elite and SR is a six-speeder, which enhances performance further.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The less costly Accents, the Active hatch and sedan, roll on 14-inch steel wheels and have the features common to all models.

If you want more you can choose between the Elite sedan and the SR hatch, which share most of their extra equipment.

That begins with bigger, nicer looking 16-inch wheels made from aluminium alloy, fitted with wider tyres that have a lower profile, for better grip and more responsive steering.

Then there is cruise control, and front foglights. A storage net for the boot prevents smaller items from rolling around.

You also get more appealing finishes, among them a striped pattern on the seats, chrome door handles inside and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Only the SR hatch has headlamps which switch on automatically in low light, and a rear wing (or spoiler) – which does not affect the way it drives but is meant to make it look sportier.

The Elite sedan comes standard with auto transmission, which is an extra-cost option on the SR.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The larger tyres on the Elite and SR could cost more to replace, and the ride feels slightly firmer because the tyres have a lower profile (there is less air between the wheel and the road).

White and yellow are the only standard colours, with all others costing extra.

How comfortable is the Hyundai Accent?

The Accent presents well inside, with an unusual, golf-ball like dimpled texture on top of the dash and well laid out switches and buttons.

The seats feel soft and spongy, and once moving the suspension feels that way too, so that you are well looked after when driving around town.

Music produced by the audio system might not sound rich but it does go quite loud. Six buttons below the central touchscreen can be programmed to tune in your favourite radio stations.

It is at highway speeds, or on long trips, when you wish that the seats supported the middle of your back more effectively, that the car felt steadier on bumpy stretches of road, and that less tyre noise intruded into the cabin – the Accent’s tyre roar is quite loud on coarse surfaces.

Both engines feel responsive in traffic but run out of puff at country-road speeds. Automatic Active models, in particular, need to be worked hard on steep hills.

What about safety in an Accent?

Curtain airbags and seatbelt reminders for the rear passengers contribute to a safety rating of Very Good for all Accents.

Automatic headlamps and daytime running lights are exclusive to the SR and improve its visibility.

(To see a full list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has rated the Accent’s safety at five stars.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

The Accent is more about cost-efficient transport than fun. Both engines feel lethargic when driven gently. Automatic Active models get no help from the four-speed gearbox unless you give the accelerator a hefty prod, when it will shift down one or two gears in an overly dramatic attempt to find more power.

The direct injection engine in the Elite and SR models has more pull, and feels happier when worked hard. The six-speed auto does a better job of keeping it in its sweet spot, and the combination makes for a more rewarding drive.

Steering in all models feels dull, especially through slight bends and when using the wheel near its centre position.

Cornering grip from the small tyres on the Actives is not very strong, either, and the soft suspension allows the body to lean quite noticeably (reducing grip further, because the tyres don’t sit as flat on the road).

The 16-inch tyres of the Elite and SR have slightly more grip, although the cornering limits are still modest. The biggest improvement is to the steering, which is more direct and engaging because of the tyres’ lower profile.

How is life in the rear seats?

By light car standards there is good leg room and head room, although adults will find it a bit tight in the back and those taller than 180cm may find their head grazing the roof. The longer roof of the hatchbacks translates to an extra 13mm of rear head room.

The rear seatbacks are unusually high, which gives good support to the upper back.

While there are three seatbelts, the middle seat is a lot less comfortable than those outside it, with a higher position and no side-support.

There are no rear air-conditioning vents.

Cabin storage in the rear is light-on, too: there are no door pockets, and a seatback pocket only on the left-hand side.

How is it for carrying stuff?

The boot on the Accent is quite accommodating, with a fairly wide floor. The 60/40 split-fold setup allows long items to extend into the main cabin if necessary.

The longer body on the sedan translates to about 30 per cent more luggage space in the boot, but when the rear seats are folded it remains easier to load bulky items such as bicycles into the hatchback.

Where does Hyundai make the Accent?

All Accents are made in South Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

A reversing camera, which is standard on the Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz, for example, and available on other light cars such as the Mazda2 and Volkswagen Polo.

Active safety features, such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. These are available on the Mazda2, for example.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

The Accent SR hatchback is the pick of the range. Its extra features create a more pleasant interior feel, and the added zing of the GDi engine makes it more enjoyable to drive.

When did Hyundai update the Accent?

The current shape Accent went on sale in 2011 and received minor updates and tweaks to its model range (including dropping the diesel engine formerly available) in 2012 and 2013. About September 2015 the range was revised, with the Elite version dropped and Accent Active models given a smaller engine with a CVT auto gearbox. The revised range is covered in a revised review on WhichCar. An all new Accent is expected about 2016 or 2017.