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Dearer diesel puts Accent on quality
Dearer diesel puts Accent on quality

_SMALL _petrol engines have become so good at getting the balance between fuel efficiency and performance right that it has become increasingly hard to justify the extra expense of a diesel when buying a city hatch.

As a consequence, the number of oil-burners available in the entry-level segment has decreased in recent years. The cheapest diesel on the market is the Hyundai Accent, priced from $19,490 plus on-road costs, and if you don't want a white one you will have to fork out an extra $375 for one of the seven mica or metallic colours.

While significantly cheaper than its nearest rival, the diesel Accent is also $2600 more than the petrol version. So if you were making a decision purely on economic grounds you would buy the petrol model every time.

But if your budget can be stretched that little bit further, the diesel is well worth consideration.

Compared to the same size petrol engine a diesel car provides an easier, more relaxed driving experience and after spending a week driving the Accent diesel it was hard not to be impressed.

The performance is strong and the diesel engine is surprisingly smooth and quiet (in the cabin at least), while the manual transmission was an absolute delight to use.

With the engine's narrow power band you only need to use four gears around the metropolitan area. Fifth and sixth do not really come into play until you are travelling more than 80km/h.

The steering is nice and light and though there will be some who feel there needs to be a little more connection with the road at higher speeds, for city driving (where this style of car will spend most of its time) it is ideal.

The interior is a typically busy Hyundai layout with plenty of vents, carbon-look dash and well-lit instrument cluster. The steering wheel also comes with audio and phone controls.

The seats are comfortable, with surprising room in the back for a light car like this, providing reasonable leg and headroom.

The only things missing were cruise control, which is becoming more of a must-have feature these days with the ever-increasing number of speed cameras, and reach adjustment on the steering wheel.

_FORD FIESTA _

  • Model: *LX hatch

  • Price: *$21,490

  • Engine: *1.6-litre Duratorq turbo-diesel

  • Outputs: * 66kW/200Nm

  • Transmission: *5-speed manual

  • Thirst: *4.4L/100km

  • Safety: *Five stars

_VOLKSWAGEN POLO _

  • Model: * Comfortline hatch

  • Price: *$21,490

  • Engine: *1.6-litre turbo-diesel

  • Outputs: *66kW/230Nm

  • Transmission: *5-speed manual

  • Thirst: *4.7L/100km

  • Safety: * Five stars

_CITROEN C3 _

  • Model: *Seduction hatch

  • Price: *$24,990

  • Engine: *1.6-litre turbo-diesel

  • Outputs: *66kW/215Nm

  • Transmission: *5-speed manual

  • Thirst: * 4.3L/100km

  • Safety: * Five stars

_HYUNDAI ACCENT _

  • Model: *Active hatch

  • Price: * $19,590

  • Engine: *1.6-litre turbo-diesel

  • Outputs: *94kW/260Nm

  • Transmission: *6-speed manual

  • Thirst: *4.5L/100km

  • Safety: *Five stars <div class="endnote">

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