2015-2017 Hyundai Accent Review

The Hyundai Accent is a city car that is bigger than most, and you can have a hatchback or a sedan. This review covers Accents on sale from September 2015 until July 2017.

2016 Hyundai Accent Active
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Price
  •   Five-year warranty
  •   Spacious for a small car
Not so much
  •   Underwhelming engine in Active
  •   Not much fun to drive

What stands out?

The Hyundai Accent is a light city car that is bigger than most – it is slightly smaller than the Hyundai i30 hatchback and Elantra sedan. You can have an Accent in either body style, and it is well built and comes with a five-year warranty. This review covers Accents on sale from September 2015 until July 2017.

You can also read our review of the current Accent.

What might bug me?

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

That you can't listen to music stored on CD - there's no player.

In the less costly Accent, the Active, keeping an eye on the speedo in highway driving: there is no cruise control.

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 sound system with a radio, Aux and USB inputs, Bluetooth phone functionality and audio streaming, and six speakers, controllable from a 5.0-inch touchscreen.

Support for Apple CarPlay, which lets you display some apps (including maps) from your iPhone on the car’s touchscreen and control them from there.

Controls on the steering wheel for the audio system.

Height adjustment for the driver’s seat, and seatbelt reminders for all five seats.

A full-size spare wheel.

Six airbags. Anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control – which can help you control a skidding or sliding car. (For the placement of airbags, please open the Safety section below.)

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

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

Two four-cylinder petrol engines are available in an Accent, a 1.4-litre for the less costly version, the Active, and a more powerful 1.6-litre for the Accent SR.

The 1.4-litre uses least fuel, consuming 5.7 litres/100km in the official test with a manual gearbox and 6.2 litres/100km with an auto.

The 1.6-litre is labelled GDi, for gasoline direct injection, and has about 35 per cent more power. Despite the extra go it uses only slightly more fuel. (Its more sophisticated fuel injection system makes it more efficient.)

The manual gearbox in each case is a six-speeder.

The auto gearbox fitted Accent Actives is a CVT, or continuously variable transmission. Rather than a set number of gear ratios, the CVT can adjust its ratio seamlessly. The idea is to give the driver better access to the engine’s best power.

The auto in the Accent SR is a conventional six-speed unit.

(Power outputs and all other specifications for the Hyundai Accent Active and SR are available from the Cars Covered menu, under the main image on this page.)

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The less costly Accents, the Active hatch and sedan, have the 1.4 engine, 14-inch steel wheels with plastic trim, cloth-covered seats, the features common to all Accents.

Spend more and you can have an Accent SR, which comes only as a hatchback and has more equipment.

That begins with the bigger, more powerful, 1.6-litre engine. Then there are 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).

The SR has cruise control, front foglights, and daytime running lights illuminated by very long-lived LEDs. Its headlamps switch on automatically in low light.

You also get more appealing finishes, among them a striped pattern on the seats, chrome door handles inside, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A storage net for the boot prevents smaller items from rolling around. And there is a rear wing (or spoiler) – which does not affect the way the car drives but is meant to make it look sportier.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The larger tyres on the 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 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.

The 1.4-litre engine feels undernourished but is helped by its CVT auto, which seamlessly adjusts to what the driver is trying to achieve. While some small engines with auto transmissions can be felt shifting busily between gears – adversely affecting comfort – the most perceptible change for the CVT driver is the sound the engine is making.

The CVT ensures the Active 1.4 is responsive below 60km/h, but it still runs out of puff at country-road speeds.

The 1.6-litre engine in the SR is noticeably more powerful and provides snappier acceleration.

What about safety in a Hyundai Accent?

Every Accent has stability control, six airbags, and seatbelt reminders on all seats.

The airbags are in the usual places: one in front of each front-seat occupant; one outside each front occupant to protect the pelvic and chest area from a side impact; and side-curtain airbags running down the length of the cabin to protect the heads of front and rear occupants from a side impact.

The Accent SR is more visible, with LED daytime running lights and auto-on headlamps.

Crash avoidance aids such as autonomous emergency braking are not available on an Accent. (Auto-braking systems use sensors to scan the road ahead, and can apply the brakes automatically to prevent you from crashing into someone in front.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has rated the Accent’s safety at five stars, most recently in August 2011.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

The Accent is more about cost-efficient transport than fun. The Actives and even the SR feel lethargic when driven gently.

The GDi engine in the SR has more pull, and feels happier when worked hard. The six-speed auto does a decent job of keeping it in its sweet spot, although occasionally it performs a jerky change into a low gear if you press the accelerator harder.

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 on the 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, although there is a large lip to load luggage over. 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. This is standard on the Mazda2 and available on the Yaris and Suzuki Swift, for example.

Among other light cars you might consider are the Renault Clio and Kia Rio.

If you could be happy with less space, consider a Holden Spark, Suzuki Celerio, Kia Picanto, or Suzuki Ignis.

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

The Accent Active with a CVT transmission is the pick of the range covered here, but predominantly because of its pricing: it is one of the least costly four-cylinder hatchbacks on sale. The CVT auto helps give it respectable around-town performance.

When did Hyundai update this Accent?

The current shape Accent went on sale in 2011 and received minor updates and tweaks (including dropping the diesel engine formerly available) in 2012 and 2013.

About September 2015 Hyundai removed the smaller i20 from its model range. The mid-price Accent Elite was dropped also. Accent Active models were given a smaller, 1.4-litre engine with a CVT auto gearbox option and became the least costly Hyundais available.

Late in June 2017 Hyundai reduced the Accent range to a single hatch and sedan, replacing the 1.4-litre Accent Active and 1.6-litre Accent SR with the Accent Sport. The Accent Sport uses the direct-injected engine from the SR, and adopts its wheel and tyre package, its suspension, and most of its feature set (including cruise control). Unlike the hatch-only SR, you can have the Accent Sport as a sedan also.
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Price
  •   Five-year warranty
  •   Spacious for a small car
Not so much
  •   Underwhelming engine in Active
  •   Not much fun to drive


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