2012 Hyundai Accent sedan and hatchback now available

2012 Hyundai Accent sedan and hatchback

Hyundai’s all-new 2012 Accent carries some big and exciting news for consumers. Not only is it expected to be a formidable competitor to rivals Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Versa and Honda Fit, but it also has the distinct advantage of EPA-estimated fuel economy of 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway – for both manual and automatic versions.

The 1.6-liter four is mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic — and the Accent is the only car in the segment to offer two six-speeds. Shift action for the manual isn’t exactly positive but it’s light and easy — very much in the Volkswagen idiom. It would be more pleasant to use if the clutch take-up weren’t so close to the floor. In our brief time with the automatic, we found it to shift smoothly. With either gearbox, acceleration is only adequate — nothing in this class is genuinely quick. The direct-injected four is fairly happy in its work, but don’t expect a lot of oomph off the line.

What surprised us was how quiet the Accent is on the highway, with very little wind noise. The gearing isn’t super-tall, so the engine is turning about 2750 rpm at 70 mph (with the manual transmission). That means the car can climb modest Interstate grades or gather a bit more speed without the need to downshift.

In contrast with previous Korean practice, the chassis is quite tied-down: the ride is firm, and bumps can be fairly sharp. It’s not Ford Fiesta-fun, but it is more solid than we expected. Importantly, stability control and ABS are standard here (that’s not a given in this bargain-basement price class), and the Accent is the only car in the segment to be fitted with disc brakes at all four wheels.

The redesigned Accent follows this trend. Its styling resembles the larger Sonata and Elantra, carrying on current Hyundai themes. There’s also more equipment now including the mandatory-for-2012 stability control.

Base Price is $13,205, including destination,The 2012 Accent is still less expensive than comparably equipped Fits and Fiestas, but it costs more than a Mazda 2.

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