The Hyundai Accent has been around for a while exclusively as a four-door sedan that the EPA classifies as a compact rather than a subcompact. For 2102, the four-door model continues, but as an all-new vehicle that reflects a continuation of what Hyundai refers to as its Fluidic Sculpture design language that generates the impression of constant motion and surface tension. In addition to the four-door sedan, for the 2012 model year, the Korean automaker has introduced a five-door hatchback variant that promises to deliver a higher level of utility and versatility. Both body configurations are more refined and display a confident and aerodynamic image.
There is a chrome accented grille in a signature hexagonal form, sculpted hood creases, wraparound headlamps, available fog lights and folding mirrors on both the sedan and hatch Both feature a rising beltline and sculpted character lines, while the 5-door showcases a more expressive and functional, extended rear design with expressive vertical taillights and a roof mounted rear spoiler.
The sedan will be available in three levels of trim and content: GLS, GS; and SE, while the hatchback will only come in two trim levels: GS and SE. The four-door is 3.5-inches longer with a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase than its predecessor. As a compact, Accent is a class above both Toyota’s Yaris and the Fiesta from Ford. The 5-Door has a longer wheelbase and overall length than the Toyota Yaris, Chevy Aveo, Honda Fit and Mazda2, and also delivers best-in-class cargo volume. The Accent 5-Door even provides more cargo capacity then the Infiniti EX35 and Nissan Juke crossovers as well as most other compact 5-doors.
Both new Accents are powered by a new, more powerful 1.6-liter GAMMA GDI four-cylinder engine that weighs in at 40 pounds less than the outgoing Alpha engine. The new engine generates 138 horsepower at 6,300 rpm, while delivering 123 pound feet of torque at 4,850 rpm. The engine achieves 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway with either the standard six-speed manual gearbox with an EcoShift indicator, or the available six-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic with overdrive lock-up torque converter and manual shift mode.
The interior presents a more modern and refined design with multiple storage areas and increased storage capacity over its key competitors. It is the only car in its class to provide a sliding armrest storage console for added driver and passenger convenience and comfort. There’s also overhead sunglass storage, a damped glove compartment, dual front map pockets with bottle with integrated bottle holders and dual front cup-holders. The feature content is impressive for both the 4-door and 5-door models, even in base trim levels.
Accent will be available in nine exterior colors and three interior color treatments. The interior features cloth-looking pillars composed of plastic blended with fibrous tissue and volcanic rock for an improved appearance, quality and scratch resistance that is also easy to clean.
The base 4-door Accent GLS with a manual transmission starts at $12,445 and progresses to $16,795 while the 5-door with an automatic transmission in SE trim begins at $16,795. Add a $760 Freight charge for all models. Comfort and Premium Packages are available for the 4-door GLS with either transmission choice.
My test 2012 Accent was a 5-door hatch with the 6-speed manual gearbox in SE trim. The base sticker read $15,795 while the final tally came to $15,925 after inclusion of carpeted floor mats and an iPod cable. The exterior was sprayed with a Mocha Bronze finish, while the interior was executed in Black.
SUMMARY: Hyundai has come up with an exceptionally affordable and value laden vehicle in either Accent body configuration in virtually any trim level. I happen to favor the overall appearance of the 5-door hatch, not to mention for its added level of functionality.
The engine could actually use more power in certain scenarios, such as for uphill passing acceleration, but it is certainly adequate for the majority of applications. Handling characteristics reflect a nimble athleticism or fun-to-drive rating, and the ride quality delivers a more than satisfactory level of comfort.
Bottom-line – consumers in the market for an affordable, practical and economical to operate family vehicle, the 2012 Hyundai Accent 5-door represents one of the best values in the compact marketplace today.