Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent go head to head in this comparative review.
The turbo diesel adds $2500 to the cost of a Fiesta over the regular petrol engine. That's about the premium for a diesel donk but it is a hefty whack in the light car class, where it adds more than 10 per cent to the cost of buying the car. The $21,490 price for the LX hatch or sedan includes cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Hyundai also charges $2500 more for diesel but it delivers a better engine at a lower price. It claims to have Australia's cheapest diesel, with the Active model six-speed manual Carsguide tested costing $19,490 for the sedan or hatch. The 14-inch steel wheels apart, it matches or beats the Fiesta for features. The four-speed auto adds $2000.
Official fuel use of 4.4L/100km means the 1.6 isn't going to spend much time in service stations. The lack of an automatic transmission does it no favours but the five forward cogs in the manual gearbox get the most out of the engine's wide torque curve.
Progress doesn't sleep. The Fiesta's 66kW/200Nm 1.6-litre turbo diesel was lauded when it launched in 2009. Today, the same-size mill from Hyundai cranks out 94kW/260Nm and uses just 0.1L/100km more fuel than the Ford. Unlike the Ford, the Accent comes with a USB connection.
The LX misses out on the alloy-trimmed front vents and driving lights on the more expensive Zetec model so the front-end has an unfinished look. The external design is clean without the razor-sharp crease lines of newer rivals.
The fake alloy centre console is too blinged-up for mine.
The hatch is a modern wedge shape softened by rounded front and rear bumpers. It is the latest version of Hyundai's ''fluidic design" and gives the Accent a sporty, youthful look. The interior is middle-of-the-roadconventional but the plastics are on a par with the Ford.
ANCAP awards the LX Fiesta five stars in sedan or hatch guise. Front, side, curtain and driver's knee airbags are standard. The rear brakes are drums but the ABS and stability control means most drivers will never notice.
With six airbags against seven in the Fiesta, the Accent is still a highly credentialled five-star car. ANCAP gave it an overall score of 35.66 (out of 37), at the top of the light-car ratings. It has the usual safety systems.
It desperately needs an automatic for around town but get it out of the gridlock and it embarrasses the Fiesta's perfectly competent petrol engine. The chassis and suspension are on a par with the VW Polo and there's always torque on tap for hills or overtaking. Interior noise has been dialled down.
The Hyundai has the urge to outhustle the Fiesta but still isn't as convincing as a driver's car. The steering is less direct and the ride comfort at speed isn't as refined as the Ford's. For town duties and those on a budget, the Hyundai is worth a serious look, especially given the five-year warranty.
Better engine technology lifts the Accent to a tie with the Fiesta. I'd give it to the Ford on a countback for its better handling but, if price is a major influence, there's no shame in owning an Accent.