Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co, Patrick Cardano | posted April 28, 2014 17:13
Korean fleet fighter
The previous-generation diesel Accent was a popular car among taxi operators and corporate fleets due to its efficiency and performance, all thanks to the 1.5 CRDI diesel motor. After a generation changeover to the new, Fluidic Sculpture model, Hyundai, in an odd move, opted to not introduce a CRDI variant of the current sedan... until now, that is.
In response to the clamor from the cost conscious consumers and fleet customers, Hyundai’s Philippine distributor brings back the popular CRDI-powered Accent sedan variant to the market after a 3 year absence.
Let's see how it gets on.
For 2014 HARI introduced the mid-cycle facelift Accent to the market, the same look that the 1.6E CRDI model has. Despite the said 'facelift', the exterior design features very minimal changes as designers may have followed the "if it ain’t broke, don’t to fix it" principle. Lighting is via the halogen headlamps in lieu of the new projector headlamps with LEDs found in higher variants. It sits on 14-inch tires wrapped on steel rims with wheel covers.
Designers decided to leave the interior untouched for the update, and thus it features the same double-winged style dashboard inherited from the pre-facelift version. The interior is a good mix of ergonomical placement and utilitarian controls. Being a base 'E' variant, the steering wheel is devoid of any controls except to turn the car and the horn button. The instrumentation features a multi-information display which gives fuel mileage reading in addition to the standard distance displays.
The 1.6 E features power windows and power door locks though only the driver-side is accessible by key as it does not come with remote entry. Making it inconvenient to give access to a passenger. For in-car entertainment, a Hyundai-branded 1-DIN radio with CD/MP3 and USB connectivity is fitted along with four speakers that produce decent sound. Aircon controls remain the same as its predecessor: manual rotary type.
Under the hood is a 1.6-liter CRDI engine originally found in the hatchback version. It produces 128 PS and 260 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. A slight vibration of the diesel is felt when you turn the key but it does smoothen and quiets down once the engine warms up on idle.
As with the hatchback version we tested last year, there's quite a generous amount of power on tap. The six-speed manual, makes it even easier to maximize the engine for either eco driving (as suggested by the on-board computer with indicator) or a spirited driving pace if you find yourself in a hurry. The well-matched engine and variable geometry turbo work together to provide optimal power delivery across the rev range. It is, however, best enjoyed with the turbo in full boost; keep in mind that the optimal torque range is between 1900 and 2750 rpm. Shifter feel is somewhere between precise and rubbery but just right for its purpose.
Fuel mileage in the city resulted to around 16 km/l in light traffic, while about 12 km/l in moderate traffic.
Quite uncharacteristic is its turning radius which I found quite big for a car its size. The electric power steering felt disconnected for my preference. It is a car that’s easy to move around as you weave through in traffic. It is not meant for higher speeds with more aggressive corners as body roll is evident desire the slightly firm suspension setting.
Safety is quite a letdown as it does not come with airbags, keyless entry, nor does it come with anti-lock brakes; this a basic, barebones fleet version after all.
Price-wise, it has been strategically placed well within the range of the slightly higher specced Vios 1.3 E, also with manual transmission. However, the aggressive pricing strategy comes at the expense of important safety and convenience features. This signals its intent to get more business from the volume heavy fleet and taxicab business.