While Hyundai continues to attract value-for-money-craving South African customers to its more than one hundred showrooms around the country it makes sense that they would in turn want to offer those potential buyers a product to match every budget. With this in mind the Korean manufacturer has launched the new Accent hatch to the fill the small yet apparently significant pricing gap (of around R100 000) between the top-of-the range i20 and cheapest i30.

It’s fortunate the Accent nameplate is well-known to South African audiences as somehow i25 doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely. Naming aside the newcomer shares much of the current Hyundai DNA with its showroom siblings. True to its Malcolm in the Middle status the new Accent hatch is 120 mm longer than the i20 and 130 shorter than the i30 mm (I kid you not). Significantly in terms of occupant comfort there’s a 45 mm stretch in wheelbase over the i20.

The Accent hatch utilises the same Gamma 1,6-litre engine as featured in the Sedan range. This means 91 kW available at 6 300 r/min and 156 N.m of torque available at 4 200 r/min. While a four-speed automatic transmission is available it’s likely the six-speed manual option will make up the bulk of the 200 to 250 units Hyundai SA is hoping to sell on a monthly basis.

It’s a drivetrain combination easily able to keep the lightweight (1 035 kilograms) Accent hatch up to speed. A light clutch action and slick, easy to operate gearlever (combined with a slightly lifeless electric power steering) afford the Accent a lively personality around town while, on the open road, traveling at the national speed limit, the only negative is a corresponding 3 200 r/min engine drone.

There's certainly enough compliance in the suspension to ease both the potential pain of a lengthy journey as well as minor suburban road imperfections.

Hyundai claims 6,4 L/100 km for the manual transmission Accent though I averaged around 7,0 L/100 km over the course of the Western Cape launch route.

As we’ve come to expect from the Korean brands, a comprehensive standard specification list awaits potential Accent hatch buyers. This includes a latest-generation audio system (with Bluetooth and multifunction steering wheel), air-conditioning and rear park sensors. 16-inch alloy wheels and full-colour coding complement the exterior package.

While leather upholstery can be specified (R8000) the standard cloth covers nevertheless feel hard wearing and provide good comfort all-around. It’s a pity rake adjustment isn’t included along with height adjustment on the steering column but the fact that driver’s seat can also be adjusted for height helps with finding an optimal driving position.

Spoiled for choice in the small hatch segment it’s easy to see potential i20 customers being persuading into the larger Accent hatch but, at the same time, the attractiveness of this new package might well harm i30 sales going forward.

*Specifications
Model: Hyundai Accent hatch (manual transmission)
Engine: 1,6-litre naturally aspirated petrol
Power:  91 kW @ 6 300 r/min
Torque:  156 N.m @ 4 200 r/min
0-100 km/h: 10,2 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6,4 L/100 km
CO2: 152 g/km
Top speed: 190 km/h
Price: R234 900

*Specifications
Model: Hyundai Accent hatch (automatic transmission)
Engine: 1,6-litre naturally aspirated petrol
Power:  91 kW @ 6 300 r/min
Torque:  156 N.m @ 4 200 r/min
0-100 km/h: 11,4 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6,8 L/100 km
CO2: 161 g/km
Top speed: 184 km/h
Price: R244 900

*All manufacturer claimed figures