2006 Hyundai Accent GL 5-speed
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Review and photos by Haney Louka

The last time I drove a Hyundai Accent was in 2003 and Toyota’s Echo hatchback was new to our market. After a back-to-back drive, the results were predictable. While the Accent was decent, it represented dated looks and technology in a package that wasn’t a whole lot less expensive than the Toyota.

But that was then, this is now, and Hyundai is on a roll. The ’06 Accent represents one of three completely new models in Hyundai’s 2006 stable, and both the mid-size Sonata and luxurious Azera won their categories at the annual Canadian Car of the Year competition. That the Accent didn’t win its own category should not reflect poorly on this new car, because it was up against the new Civic, which took home the honours in the economy class.

But in the marketplace, the Civic and Accent are separated by at least $3,000, and when we’re looking at base prices in the teens, that’s a lot of dough.

The more realistic competition for the new Accent consists of the equally fresh Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris, as well as the Chevy Aveo and Pontiac Wave. This class is just about to get a whole lot more crowded though: the 2007 Honda Fit will go on sale in April, and Nissan’s new Versa will follow in the summer, both of which should be available well-equipped with price-tags in the mid-teens.

2006 Hyundai Accent GL 5-speed

2006 Hyundai Accent GL 5-speed
Click image to enlarge

The new Accent is available as a two-door hatch and a four-door sedan. The hatchback provides the entry point into the Hyundai family with a base price way down at $12,995. That modest sum buys a decent list of standard equipment, including a passenger-side airbag, CD stereo, tachometer, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, body-coloured bumpers and trim, variable-intermittent front wipers, and a 104-hp four-banger.

While additional hatch models are available with prices reaching $16,345, we’re here to talk about the four-door sedan which was made available to us for a week-long test drive.

The four-door GL starts at $13,995 with a slightly more powerful engine and five-speed manual transmission. Aside from a trunk and two more doors, the sedan has pretty much the same standard features as the hatch.

2006 Hyundai Accent GL 5-speed
Click image to enlarge

Our tester was the GL with the Comfort package, commanding a modest premium of $1,300, and making it a much easier car to live with on a day-to-day basis. Among the extras in this package are power windows and locks with remote keyless entry, air conditioning, and power mirrors. A glaring omission: cruise control. I guess you’ll have to get that installed by the dealer or elsewhere, because it’s not available from the factory on any Accent.

Perhaps the most notable model in the line-up is the GLS, because it benefits from trickle-down technology not normally found in this class. Items such as front-side and side curtain airbags, six-speaker audio, heated seats, and rear disc brakes with ABS are all included in the GLS sedan’s $16,695 price tag.

2006 Hyundai Accent GL 5-speed
Click image to enlarge

Motivation for the sedan is supplied by a new 1.6-litre four-cylinder “Alpha” engine which makes use of continuously variable intake valve timing and dual overhead cams to produce 110 hp at 6,000 rpm and 106 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

It’s a smooth unit that’s also fairly quiet in going about its business. Mated to the Accent’s standard five-speed stick (a four-speed slushbox is available for $950) it’s a thoroughly competent — and fun — set-up for navigating city streets. The shifter itself, while a substantial improvement over the unit found in last year’s Accent with shorter throws and slicker action, suffers from a lack of accuracy that makes it lag behind the class leaders (read: Toyota and Honda).

Though the suspension set-up is fairly conventional — MacPherson struts in front and a torsion beam in the rear — the Accent’s ride is pleasantly lacking in the unsettled busy-ness that plagues many small cars.

The relatively narrow P185/65-14 all-season tires helped the Accent cut through fresh snow and provide decent traction, but the lack of ABS on this car (it should at least be available as a stand-alone option) meant I had to practice my rusty threshold braking skills to effect proper stops in slippery conditions.

2006 Hyundai Accent GL 5-speed

2006 Hyundai Accent GL 5-speed
Click image to enlarge

At least I was comfortable while doing so, with the new Accent’s modern and tasteful interior. The two-tone theme found in the Sonata also makes an appearance here; my tester’s mocha-on-taupe scheme made for a distinctly upscale feel inside. The seats were not wrapped in the expected mouse fur velour upholstery; rather, they were dressed in a tasteful fabric that looked both upscale and durable.

Among the unexpected goodies inside are a fold-down driver’s armrest, fold-down rear seat armrest with cupholders, and bottle holders in the rear passenger doors.

Interior storage is well thought out as well, with a small cubby suitable for a cell phone at the base of the centre console, and an open bin with a grippy bottom surface just ahead of the shifter.

2006 Hyundai Accent GL 5-speed
Click image to enlarge

My sunglasses found a home just beneath the audio head unit, and there’s also a small covered compartment between the power outlet and cigarette lighter.

In its transformation into a 21st-century economy car, the Accent has all of the pieces to make it a good choice in its class. The only problem I see is that its exterior styling is too generic to strike a chord with prospective buyers, many of whom will be young and style-conscious. With the Fit and Versa on the way, it will be interesting to see if the Accent has the staying power to stand the test of time.


Technical Data: 2006 Hyundai Accent GL Sedan

Base price $13,995
Options $1,300 (Comfort Package
Freight $615
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $16,010 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives
Type 4-door, 5-passenger economy sedan
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel drive
Engine 1.6-litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves
Horsepower 110 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 106 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission five-speed manual
Tires P185/65R-14 inch all-season
Curb weight 1,075 kg (2,366 lb.)
Wheelbase 2,500 mm (98.4 in.)
Length 4,280 mm (168.5 in.)
Width 1,695 mm (66.7 in.)
Height 1,470 mm (57.9 in.)
Cargo capacity 351 litres (12.4 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 7.4 L/100 km (38 mpg Imperial)
  Highway: 6.2 L/100 km (45 mpg Imperial)
Fuel type Regular unleaded
Warranty Comprehensive 5 yrs/100,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km

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