Friday, February 3, 2012

Hyundai Accent Amazes

I just spent a very happy week with the new 2012 Hyundai Accent. The Accent is the Korean manufacturer's smallest car sold in America. It competes with other entry-level cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit.

The Accent is all new for 2012, offering hatchbacks and four-door sedans in three trim levels. All wear the company's swoopy, sculpted styling that has helped make the midsize Sonata sedan such a hit. The look successfully scales down to the Elantra compact and the now the Accent.

I had the hatchback, in a sober gray worthy of a Mercedes-Benz, but the car managed to have a cuteness mixed with a confidence in its own wheelbase. Inside the car, the sweep of the dash and doors, nice fit of the panels, lack of cheapness and remarkable solidity was impressive. There was plenty of rear legroom for adults. Hyundai, and the Accent, have come a long way.

My car was an SE--the sporty model--and it had, hooray, a six-speed manual transmission. There aren't that many around any more, with even the lowliest economy ride proferring an automatic. As it is, Hyundai has chosen to offer the manual as standard and the automatic as optional in each line. That's commendable, as the Accent's cousin, the Kia Rio, offers a manual only in the base car.

My tester was not base. I enjoyed Bluetooth for my phone, Satellite Radio, air conditioning (really standard everywhere these days), power windows, locks and mirrors (also pretty ubiquitous). A leather steering wheel and shift knob gave an upscale feeling, and the design itself was just right. Compared to the Ford Fiesta, which is a little overstyled, it seemed to be a balance between youthful exuberance and the kind of environment you wouldn't mind occupying for a few hours a day without getting distracted.

The Accent uses a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter engine that moved the car along smoothly and quietly, and delivered 32 miles per gallon. That's quite good. The EPA gives it ratings of 30 City, 40 Highway (34 average) and Green Vehicle Guide numbers of 6 for Air Pollution and 8 for Greenhouse Gas (that's SmartWay-winning territory).

Prices start at just $12,545 for the GLS up to $15,895 for the SE, plus shipping. Hyundai vehicles have been attractively priced from the beginning, but they are today great cars to own and drive, even at the starting end of the market.

11 comments:

Mac said...

Hyundai and Kia have experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years, even as the rest of the auto industry was embroiled in an ugly downturn. In fact, 2011 was a terrific year for the Korean automaker, as sales jumped by double digits globally. But while Hyundai/Kia has been on fire of late, Reuters reports that company officials feel that 2012 isn't likely to return the same gains.





Hyundai Accent Boston

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