Indicative Drive Away Price: $20,066

Hyundai’s update to its Accent five-door hatch in August 2015 has given it the boost required to take victory in the competitive Light car category.

The entry-level Active model now boasts a 1.4-litre engine (down from a 1.6-litre unit), a new CVT automatic transmission and significant $2000 price cut. An indicated drive-away price of $20,066 sees it one of the cheapest cars in the category, making it a compelling money-for-value proposition.

The new engine produces 74kW of power at 6000rpm and 133Nm of torque at 3500rpm, which is adequate for around town use and the CVT is a step up on the dated four-speed automatic fitted to the previous Accent. This combination of smaller engine with a more flexible transmission has helped to reduce fuel consumption to a respectable 6.2 litres/100km.

 The Accent is the biggest of our finalists, with a large luggage area and good rear leg room, which is a distinct bonus in the Light (smaller than Small) category.

The interior is clearly laid out, but isn’t as sophisticated as its competitors. And cost savings are evident in less critical areas, for example the Accent has steel wheels where most cars, even in this class, now have alloys. That said, the level of connectivity provided by a five-inch touch-screen multimedia system might surprise many buyers shopping in this budget end of the market.

Hyundai’s Lifetime Service Plan ensures owners know what they’ll pay for servicing over the whole-of-ownership. Not only does this provide peace of mind, it also helps to give the Accent best-in-class running and repair costs. A five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty adds further appeal.

 The Accent comes with a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

2ND: KIA RIO SI, 746