Watching a fight between two martial artists from different disciplines is exciting, but it’s even more interesting to watch two fighters who practise the same form of martial arts because they will probably be more evenly matched.
In this story, the subcompact Hyundai Accent and compact Elantra are two saloon siblings that happen to be “taekwondo practitioners”. Each has “learned” the same skills and is ready to counter any move by its compatriot.
Making this bout even more intriguing is the fact that the two “fighters” look almost identical. Both the Accent and Elantra have hexagon-shaped noses and upswept headlamps, along with sculpted shoulder and body lines. They only really differ when viewed from the rear – the backside of the Accent looks plain in contrast to that of the Elantra.
The Elantra delivers a powerful roundhouse kick, in the form of an ergonomic cockpit. The steering wheel has convenient audio and cruise control functions, while the seats are wider and cushier than the Accent’s. In addition, the air-con features digital temperature controls with dual climate zones.
Although the Accent lacks leather seats and steering wheel controls, it parries this blow with its intuitive hi-fi system, relatively soft dashboard plastics and even more arctic air-conditioning.
But when it comes to backseat space, the Elantra manages to land a few one-two punches on the other Hyundai, thanks to a wider bench, standard armrest and greater headroom. The rear seats can also be split-folded to expand the boot’s capacity, which is a feature the Accent lacks.
The Accent may have taken a few hits so far, but it bounces back with some well-aimed elbow strikes. Although it has a smaller, 1.4-litre engine that only produces 100bhp and 133Nm, said motor can accelerate this subcompact from rest to 100km/h in 11.8 seconds – just 0.2 of a second slower than the Elantra.
The Accent even throws the Elantra off-balance with its better fuel economy of 17.5km per litre. This lets the former travel 2.6 kilometres further than the latter on every litre of unleaded.
The Elantra replies to these strikes with some fancy flying kicks. The car’s 1.6-litre engine is not only more responsive, but more refined, too. The Elantra also feels more assured when moving off from a standstill, which is a plus for keener drivers.
The Accent manages to dodge a few of the Elantra’s fierce manoeuvres while delivering a few elaborate crescent kicks of its own. The Accent’s CVT (continuously variable transmission), for instance, is as smooth as the Elantra’s 6-speed automatic and has an equally responsive manual override function. Impressively, said CVT neither whines nor displays a “rubber band” effect when accelerating hard.
In terms of ride quality, both saloons are almost even. The Accent and Elantra have steady damping and tidy handling, but the latter’s cabin is slightly quieter, especially when driven through tunnels.
These two Korean fighters have emerged from this taekwondo bout with bruises, but their efforts have not been in vain, for their impressive skills are sure to attract more fans to the Hyundai stable.
HYUNDAI ACCENT 1.4 (A)
ENGINE 1368cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 100bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 133Nm at 4000rpm
GEARBOX CVT with 6-speed override
0-100KM/H 11.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 185km/h
CONSUMPTION 17.5km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 136g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $104,999 (after $10k CEVS rebate)
HYUNDAI ELANTRA 1.6 (A)
ENGINE 1591cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 130bhp at 6300rpm
MAX TORQUE 157Nm at 4850rpm
GEARBOX 6-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 11.6 seconds
TOP SPEED 195km/h
CONSUMPTION 14.9km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 159g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $113,999 (after $5k CEVS rebate)