Hyundai’s Accent hatchback is a delight.
It is handsome, entertaining, functional and completely modern, with flip-and-fold-flat rear seating and a lively and thrifty 130-horsepower four-banger (with direct fuel injection).
The recently reinvented Accent is a tidy runabout with lots of features: colour touchscreen with rear-view camera; stability and traction control; six airbags; and, power windows and door locks. Best of all, it’s wonderfully affordable: $14,776 in cash for the base model (in Aurora Black, a $150 option), or $45.04 a week with $0 down (84 months at 2.99 per cent).
If you go for a slightly pricier version ($17,331) and throw in a $795 down payment, Hyundai will slice a point off factory financing (to 1.99 per cent) to keep your weekly payments to $45 for seven years.
Look, you almost certainly don’t need more car than this. You don’t. You might want something with a fancier badge, with more cachet, but it won’t buy you better quality. Hyundai and its Kia sister brand have been leading the entire auto industry in quality for years now. Put that worry to bed.
And I know SUVs (sport-utility vehicles) are on fire and all the rage with millennials in particular. But the cheapest SUV Hyundai sells is the perfectly good Kona – and it will cost you a $6,000-plus premium over the Accent, at a minimum ($20,999).
(Note: With $6,000 you can top up your TFSA and go out for a very fancy meal. Or, as Ignite.com tells us, you can buy a pair of diamond studded earbuds or “have American Idol contestant William Hung or America Pie actress Tara Reid pose for selfies with you!” Heck, $6,000 will get you a used Honda Civic or Toyota Camry, or any number of other older cars, but that’s another story.)
Okay, now here’s the problem if you go for the least expensive Accent: it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox. I very much like this shifter; the throws are clean and short and the clutch pedal action is smooth and perfectly weighted. Fuel economy is superb: 8.2 city/6.3 hwy/7.3 combined, L/100 km.
Still, I know a lot of millennials can’s shift for themselves and have no interest in learning. To get an Accent with a perfectly good six-speed automatic, you’ll need to jump up to a $17,349 model. But for that you also get Bluetooth, air conditioning and steering-wheel mounted audio and cruise controls.
You will, I expect, very much like driving the Accent, the exterior design is fluid and balanced and the cabin is roomy, with comfortable and supportive seats, not to mention controls, gauges and interfaces that are thoroughly intuitive.
The car feels solid, thanks to a structure with plenty of high strength steel (Hyundai is also one of the world’s great steelmakers, BTW). At highway speeds, sounds are well muted and in town, the steering, braking and suspension responses are better than rivals such as the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note.
So, go ahead and spend $6,000 or more on an SUV. But it will be an image thing for you and you’ll be delaying your retirement by a few years (read up on the power of compounding $6,000 over, say, 30 years).
But if what you want and need is a reliable, inexpensive and new hatchback, one with a five year/100,000 km warranty, and one flexible enough to haul home IKEA boxes and truck around your friends, you simply must give the 2018 Accent a hard look.
2018 Hyundai Accent L manual
Base price: $14,599 plus $1,605 for freight, PDI.
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder (130 horsepower/119 lb-ft torque
Transmission: six-speed manual.
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.2 city/6.3 hwy/7.3 combined.
Comparables: Honda Fit, Nissan Versa Note, Kia Rio, Chevrolet Sonic, Toyota Yaris, Mitsubishi Mirage, Ford Fiesta.