2012 Hyundai Accent
Date Posted: June 23, 2011
By Zack spencer
The Hyundai Accent is the best selling subcompact in Canada and for 2012 it grows in size and adds more features
It's interesting to watch the evolution of Hyundai as they moved from very modest beginnings, as a value brand, to vehicles buyers actually aspire to own. In fact, Hyundai is the top passenger car brand in Canada (excluding SUV's and trucks) for the very first time last month. The supply constraints felt by the Japanese makers surely helps, but there is no question that Hyundai's latest vehicles like the Elantra, Sonata and Tucson have captured the public's imagination. These vehicles all showcase Hyundai's ''fluidic sculpture'' design, have fabulous content and deliver a solid buying decision. The subcompact Accent has been the best seller in its class for a while now, selling much better than the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta. Just arriving in dealerships now are the all-new Accent sedan and 5-door hatchback, ready to expand the Hyundai brand even further.
It is a bit misleading to state that the new Accent is a subcompact car because it has grown and now has the dimensions of a compact. So much bigger, that the sedan version is actually larger than the outgoing 2011 Honda Civic. With a starting price of $13,199 the Accent might be compact in size but it comes with a subcompact price. With more high tensile steel being used in the body, it is larger, lighter and is 22 percent stiffer than the outgoing model. The Accent has also grown two more doors as the 3-door model has been retired and a 5-door is now available. Sold in three trim levels, the standard wheel is 14-inches but the top model gets 16-inch alloys.
Both the sedan and the hatchback showcase the flowing lines found in the latest Hyundai models, giving movement across its body and the sharp character lines give the car presence.
Steve Kelleher, the President of Hyundai Auto Canada, mentioned at the Accent media launch in Las Vegas that ''the days of value are long gone, that the real value is providing what others charge a premium for''. The base L trim is rather basic but it offers a $1,100 price drop from the outgoing car. The real contender is the middle GL trim that comes with standard air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, power and heated mirrors, power windows and steering wheel radio controls for $14,999. The top trim, called GLS (seen here) has a starting price of $17,999 and features XM radio, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel, fog lamps and sunroof. The most expensive Accent is the 5-door hatchback, with automatic transmission and is $18,399. These types of features are typically seen in the compact segment, not the subcompact class.
Hyundai believes that the internal combustion engine has yet to be fully optimized. Their focus is on getting their cars lighter and installing leading edge technology into their engines. This latest Accent 1.6L 4-cylinder engine features direct injection technology (first in its class) along with continuously variable valve timing plus it is 18.1 Kilograms lighter. This all comes together to provide class-leading 138hp for easy passing, good acceleration and a 14 percent improvement in fuel consumption. The Accent is also the first subcompact to come with a standard 6-speed manual or shiftable 6-speed automatic transmission. Having driven the 5-door hatchback with the manual transmission, the driver forgets the price of the car, as it feels and drives like a more expensive vehicle. The ride is smooth and very quiet, the engine is lively but Hyundai's electric power steering requires continues corrections, which becomes annoying.
It is always amazing to watch the changes in automotive world from the resurrection of GM and Chrysler to the domination of Ford and now the faltering of Toyota and Honda. The one constant over the last ten years has been the upward march of Hyundai from fringe status to mainstream manufacturer. Hyundai has consistently been providing better and better vehicles to the point that they are now innovators. The Accent is a rolling showcase for what they can do. Having industry-leading engines along with lighter and stronger vehicles and packaging them with the features people want, at a price they find attractive, is a winning formula. There are only two things I'd like to see improved on the latest Accent. The door armrest is made of hard plastic and offers little comfort and the power steering is vague and requires too much adjustment. In all, Hyundai has another winner. So much so that this larger, more powerful and practical Accent is a less expensive alternative to the Hyundai Elantra. I know which one I'd buy...
The Good, The Bad
The new 1.6L engine features a timing chain that doesn't need to be replaced.
Hyundai electric power steering still needs work.
Power: 1.6L 4-cylinder with 138hp
Fill-up: 7.0L/4.8L/100km (city/highway auto)
Sticker price: $13,199-$18,399