It has a new baby brother in the form of the Getz that means the Accent no longer has to do the job of supermini and lower-medium car.
So despite a fresher face, the latest version of the Accent (backed by an all-new line-up), is expected to sell less than half the 8,000 or so units that found homes in the UK last year.
The 1.3 GSi has become the entry-level model, there is no three-door car, the 1.5-litre petrol engine has been replaced by a 1.6-litre and a saloon has been added to the range.
Falling Accent sales during 2003 are entirely down to potential buyers switching to the new Getz, which the company expects to sell 12,000 units this year. The Accent's selling point is the offer of a lower-medium sized car for supermini prices. For £8,695 you get ABS, alloy wheels, four electric windows and a CD player – that's the same money as the cheapest five-door Toyota Yaris with none of those goodies fitted as standard.
CDX models add air conditioning, side airbags, height adjustment, lumbar support for the driver's seat and a trip computer.
Hyundai UK managing director David Walker believes the perception of Hyundai is changing from a budget brand to a value-for-money brand.
Over the years quality has been improving. With plans for a European headquarters and research and development centre, Walker said future models would have more of a European focus. In an effort to protect residual values, Walker said that any added value had to be through including more equipment rather than reducing prices.
He added: 'The value advantage we have enjoyed has come under pressure in the past few years. In our range reviews we try to add value by adding specification, not through reducing prices. We need to retain our residual values and we hope our strategy will bring list prices and transaction prices closer together.'
He added that Hyundai's five-year/unlimited mileage warranty has been well received since it was announced last year, with dealers reporting increased interest in user-chooser cars such as the Coupe, Santa Fe and Trajet.
Behind the wheel
THE new styling on the Accent seems to work. The headlamp treatment and sculpted bonnet echo the handsome Coupe, while the rear lamp clusters on the hatchback seem to hint at Ford Focus saloon and BMW Compact.
The rear of the saloon is similar to the four-door variant of the Elantra, but is none the worse for that. However, demand for saloons in the lower-medium sector is just a fraction of the number of hatchbacks sold.
Having spent seven years bridging the gap between supermini and lower-medium hatchback, the Accent is not as roomy as cars like the Peugeot 307 and Toyota Corolla. However, on-the-road prices are considerably lower than you would expect to pay for a higher-profile brand.
Equipment levels are high, even in the entry GSi trim, with chunky alloy wheels smartening up the exterior, but the interior is rather plain with its centre console looking a little cluttered, and not as imaginative as some more modern cars. It offers none of the clarity of design found in the new Renault Megane or quirky detailing like the Focus.
The CDX looks slightly better, with two-tone grey leather on the steering wheel and gear knob. Apart from the typical Hyundai trait of the indicator stalk on the right and wipers on the left, people should find their way around the controls without any problems.
However, on my first encounter I thought the ease of driving had been taken to the extreme. I wondered if the clutch pedal was attached to anything after pushing it into the carpet and the steering was equally light.
Both petrol engines (the 1.5-litre common rail diesel wasn't available on the day) pull eagerly enough, with noise on the 1.6-litre more subdued at speed. Ride quality is comfortable although there is plenty of body roll when pushing hard, but I can't imagine this car will be the first choice for driving enthusiasts.
LOW prices and sprightly, economical engines mean the Accent could make it on to the choice lists for small economy-focused businesses operating outright purchase fleets if up-to-date styling isn't a priority.
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||83/5,500||103/5,800||81/4,000|
|Max speed (mph):||108||118||106|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||45.6||40.9 (auto:35.3)||51.4|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||150||165 (auto: 192)||145|
|Fuel tank capacity (l/gal):||45/9.9|
|Transmission (l/gal):||5-sp man or||4-sp auto option on 1.6|
|Service intervals (miles):||10,000|
|Prices (OTR):||£8,695 - £10,995|