When the ‘MC’ generation Hyundai Accent lunched in 2006 in Canada, it was touted by auto journalists as being a decently driving, comfortable little run-around that was pretty decent on fuel and sold at a very appealing price.
You could get it in two forms and a few trim levels. For those folks inclined to the more practical, a 4-door Accent sedan form may have been your best bet. For those looking for a slightly more youthful and sporty variant, the 2-door hatchback was your lot.
All variants of the Accent in Canada came with Hyundai’s durable 1.6L G4ED Alpha II engine...an inline-4 putting out 110hp and 108ft-lbs of torque.
In 2006, Hyundai/Kia had already done a pretty decent job of starting the ball rolling to up their quality and their image to the levels we are used to today. UNLIKE today, however, when we have the hot hatch i30N, fizzy Veloster N, Kia Stinger and other performance-oriented models, Hyundai really didn’t have anything to appeal to drivers wanting a little more out of their rides. Sure, there was the Hyundai Tiburon/Coupe/Tuscani, their decent little coupe...
...but it wasn’t the most practical car, despite having a surprising amount of room in that rear liftback. What then, could drivers looking for a little more pep get from Hyundai to fill that ‘hot hatch’ void? Well, for that you have to go back in time to the 2005 Frankfurt Auto Show...
At that show, a special car from Hyundai debuted...the Hyundai Accent SR concept. In terms of performance, the Accent SR concept certainly lived up to the hype of a hot hatch in most regards. A turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder lived under the hood (though mated to an automatic...), and sporty side-skirts, a sizable rear hatch spoiler, huge fender flares, and large racy rims ticked all the mid-2000s ‘boy-racer’ boxes and gave it surprising performance.
The production version of the 2006-2011 ‘MC’ generation Accent was based on the Accent SR concept that debuted at that 2005 Frankfurt show, but, despite following a surprising amount of the SR concept’s styling touches very similarly (the rear hatch spoiler, for example), the production model lost some of the sportier edge the concept held:
Sadly, no SR-based hot-hatch Accent ever came to production...until Hyundai Canada stepped in for 2007.
They decided to pay homage to the Accent SR concept with a limited production run of racy Accent models in 2007. Not unsurprisingly, this trim was called the Accent SR and was as close to a ‘hot hatch’ as you were going to find from Hyundai/Kia at the time. The special-edition SR only existed for 2007 in a short production run of only 500 cars, making it rarer than some supercars! In honoring the SR concept, the limited edition SR trim was only available in hatch form...no SR sedan was ever developed for production (though I believe an ‘SR’ trim sedan was created in 2008 as a concept in Russia, but was mostly just a styling package).
In honesty, the SR wasn’t too much of a hot hatch, more of a luke-warm hatch, really! The drivetrain stayed the same as other production ‘MC’ Accents...none of the concept’s 2.0L turboness here! Instead, the SR trim soldiered on with that same 1.6L Alpha II 4-pot...but, hey, 5-speed manual. Performance wasn’t completely untouched though, as we’ll see later...
The SR trim received styling elements akin to the SR concept as well - the side skirts, front lip, rear diffuser, enlarged chrome exhaust tips and beefy fender flairs were back! An optional ‘racing’ style gas door was an addon. An ‘SR’ badge adorned the rear hatch, with two more cleverly-placed ‘SR’ badges flowing from the side repeaters into the doors.
16" aluminum rims with Falken Azenis performance tires adorned the wheel hubs, rather than the 14" rims with eco-rubber the car usually rode on.
On the inside, a high-end Clarion sound system with 6 speakers and a 10" sub brought enviable quality to your tunes. Carbon fiber trim adorned the dash and a custom performance shift knob topped the shifter.
The SR trim wasn’t ALL show and no go though! Hyundai Canada brought performance changes underneath and under the hood to help live up to the name. It may not have been the fastest, but a factory tuned intake helped the engine eke out a little more power and breathe a little better, giving the car a more aggressive noise and a small power bump from stock. An under-hood strut bar, sport suspension and a lower ride height meant the SR was surprisingly capable of holding its own on twisty autocross circuits!
Canada’s Accent SR may not have been a world-competing powerhouse like the i30N and Veloster N we get from Hyundai today, but it was an interesting, rare and unique blip on the automotive radar. I own a base-model Accent hatch, as many of you know, so I have a big soft-spot for these cars. :)
They gave the world a taste of what a then-rising Hyundai could do if they put their mind to it and a glimpse of what was to come...