Hyundai Accent hatchback (2005 - 2009)
The Accent badge had been a mainstay of the Hyundai range pretty much since the then-nascent Korean giant started selling cars in Europe. The early generations were, to be honest, pretty lacklustre, with cheap cabins, wheezy engines and indifferent handling, but in the mid-2000s, along came an Accent that was actually pretty decent, and it was a car that gave us some hint of what was to come from the incoming i-model Hyundai range.
The third generation Accent (known to Hyundai nerds, if that’s an actual thing, as the MC-series Accent ) had a pretty short life, lasting just four years on sale in Ireland, but it put up a pretty decent showing while it was here.
Out went the boxy styling and cheap-o interior of the old Accent and in came a slightly smaller, much rounder-looking car that could be had either as a three-door hatchback or a notch-back four-door saloon.
Inside, cabin quality took a massive leap up. Looking back now, from the position of a company with the likes of the new Tucson and the i40 in its ranks, the old Accent cabin looks faintly quaint, but at the time its nicely-finished interior surfaces and neat control layout were something of a revelation. Suddenly, Hyundai could make a car that was actually nice to sit in…
Underneath, the entire structure was shared with the also-new Kia Rio, and that meant you had a choice of 1.4-litre petrol engine (which most buyers went for) or the more rarely-seen 1.5 CRDi diesel. Handling was actually not too bad at all – no one’s going to accuse it of being a GTI in disguise, but it doesn’t disgrace itself in the twisty bits. You will have to put up with a lot of road noise though, and a ride quality that feels especially stiff around town.
Fuel economy, always an Accent strong point, remained decent on this model (you can expect to get around 45mpg) and the 360-odd-litre boot is still a respectable figure for a car that’s not much bigger than a Fiesta.
Reliability is close to faultless. Not only was the Accent a pretty simple car (not many expensive electronic bits to go wrong) but it was also one of the first Hyundai’s to get the firm’s five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, and Hyundai’s confidence in its mechanical package was not misplaced.
The whole point of an Accent is that it’s cheap, cheerful and rugged. So we’d suggest tracking down a 1.4-litre petrol saloon (the extra doors and slightly bigger boot add much practicality) and a 2007 model shouldn’t set you back more than €4,500 or so.
Engine: 1,399cc four-cylinder petrol
Maximum speed: 174km/h
0-100km/h: 12.4 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6.2 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: not tested
• Rugged reliability
• Pleasant interior
• Not very pretty
• Not many around
• Feels positively backward compared to more modern Hyundais
The 2005 Accent kind of bridged the gap between the old, cheap and cheerless Hyundai and the new, modern, dynamic versions. As such it sits in something of a middle ground – still very much the affordable option, but pleasant enough in and of itself to allow you to choose one without it being all about the price tag.