I’m a big guy. I’m also a heavy guy. I weigh around 215 pounds, stand at 5’10”, wear 11EE shoes, and have a 42-inch waist and XL-size US shirts. Because I’m big, I also consume a lot more natural resources, especially compared to my wife, who eats like a bird. I can eat three cups of rice without thinking about it, drink 2 liters of water in a single go, and eat a kilo of superjumbo Tender Juicies in a single sitting (with more than three cups of rice, plus eggs, banana catsup and luncheon meat, with bacon if nobody is watching). Take note, the operative word is CAN. But I don’t. Well, not all the time.
What does all this have to do with the Hyundai Accent? A number of things actually. Despite being big, I really prefer small cars. Small cars are easier to live and drive with, especially when faced with everyday traffic. Small cars consume far less real estate on the road, consume far less fuel, not to mention far less of my money when it’s time for servicing because the tires are smaller, the brake pads don’t take as much beating (because the car is lighter) and the small engines tend to use right around 4 liters of fully synthetic oil per oil change. Which leaves me more money for XL-size clothes and 11EE shoes (expensive due to the amount of materials used, or so my wife says) and my reddest of the red juicy hotdogs—which, by the way, everyone from Adam has strongly encouraged me to stop eating.
Small cars also have a far more enjoyable fun-to-drive factor: being lighter, but having more feelsome steering due to the less weight hanging over the front wheels, more immediate response from steering inputs, a suspension system that isn’t fighting with your vehicle’s weight so quick transitions are a breeze, and less inertia to keep the car from moving when you want it to stop and to glue to the road when you don’t want it to fly off as you try to tickle Newton’s ears, midcorner, flat out. Learn how to use the car’s lightness as a weapon, and you’ll become a much better driver, less reliant on speed and outright power, but more so with your wits, keen power of observation and perfectly timed maneuvers.
Power eclipsing rivals
Imagine then, if you added SERIOUS POWER to the lightweight equation? The Accent CRDi makes 128.22 horsepower and 260 Newton-meters of torque, easily eclipsing its rivals in a body that weighs 1,260 kilograms (heavy in its class, but still as lightweight as modern cars go). Power delivery is best described as plateau-like, with power peaking early and carrying most of the way to the rev-cut.
The new 1.6-liter, 16-valve twin-cam engine with VGT turbo technology means acceleration can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. Torque is instant, and the torque-multiplying effect of the four-speed automatic transmission means you really feel the g-force building up as you floor the throttle. With only four speeds, the engine, in wide-open throttle, is loaded up quickly and constantly such that it’s easy to keep the engine on the boil. The torque is truly impressive for this car, in this class.
A lot more fun
They say the car can achieve over 20 kilometers per liter with the Eco mode light on, reminding you to drive sanely. But I didn’t bother to do that because the car was just so enjoyable to drive flat-out; it’s so good to keep flooring it as long as the road is clear, the tail-pipe emitting a bit of black smoke when gas pedal and floorboard make physical contact. You can get the Kumho 195/50R16 low-profile tires to chirp off the line as well when the tires are still a bit cold, the road is damp or the wheels aren’t perfectly straight. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t THAT fast, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun than a lot of small car pretenders out there. With my hooligan driving mode engaged for the better part of my test-drive period, I still achieved a very decent 11 kpl in mostly city driving.
Complaints? The suspension is too soft to handle capably the car’s power. The rear end bottoms out completely, even when the rear is completely unladen should you go past a bump anywhere past 100 kilometers per hour. The front washes out hard into a turn, you need to trail-brake a bit to get the rear to rotate and front end to grip. But, in a way, that is part of the fun as you hang on to the steering wheel at the ragged edge of adhesion.
The suspension roll also helps you judge how much grip you have, as I found myself doing so often on every sweeping turn or every tight turn that I could find to power the car out of, with a quick jab of the e-brake to help the car’s rear end rotate. Pumping up the tires to 35 pounds per square inch helped front-end grip noticeably, but stiffening the damping rates and spring rates to the order of 20 percent should improve things overall considerably. The chassis, though capable, lacks the firmness and solidity of more illustrious Japanese (but ultimately slightly less exciting) rivals.
On the safety front, you do get dual front airbags and ABS-EBD brakes. The seats also come in a catchy tech-fabric of black with red inserts in the middle, and the audio system has USB and AUX-IN connectivity for your mobile device.
Nonetheless, the Accent diesel is in contention of being the fastest point-to-point small car available in the market. The complaints can actually be easily remedied by the aftermarket (nice set of wider ROTA wheels, sticky Nitto rubber and Bilstein coil-over suspension with Ultra Racing chassis braces thrown in for good measure), but the base platform is already very good.
The roomy interior, with a versatile interior that allows the rear seats to fold flat, makes it even more appealing. The five-door hatchback has a stylish European vibe, as well, making it uncommon to the sea of Accent taxis that have descended upon us.
The only real problem that the aftermarket can’t cure however, is the price. At P868,000, it’s quite steep. But nothing else gives this much fun in this price range.
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