What’s Best: stylish exterior, loads of cargo room
What’s Worst: Rear visibility
What’s Interesting: sophisticated engine with gasoline direct injection in an entry car
Topping out just under $20K, Hyundai Accent is no longer a cheapie subcompact. Nor does it look the part.
Sure, you can score one for as little as $13,249 ($350 more for the hatchback). But that’s the base car with six-speed manual – and none of the comforts we now expect in our rides. No air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, Bluetooth, telescopic steering or anything that elevates the daily commute above abject misery.
So an Accent you can really live with will cost another couple of grand, be it for the sedan or five-door hatchback as tested.
The LE five-door ($15,999) and the SE ($18,499) are two new models in the Accent lineup.
Hyundai is a master of packaging and has reduced the steep price walk from its barebones entry car to the next model up by introducing the LE, which for another $2,400 adds a six-speed automatic (with Shiftronic), air conditioning and remote start.
Two more steps up is the sportier SE – my ride for the week. It was dipped in a head-turning shade of Sunflower Yellow and rolled on a set of 16-inch alloys instead of crappy 14-inch steel wheels with wheelcovers.
Compared to the “jellybean” styling of the last-generation Accent, this one’s quite handsome with an aggressive profile that features sculpted sheetmetal, and a sharp character line that follows its rising beltline.
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In front, the black hexagonal grille is flanked by swept-back headlamps, and in back, the Accent’s rear-sloping roofline ends in a sporty roof spoiler. The car’s wedge shape not only looks cool but is good for aerodynamics. Coefficient of drag is a slippery 0.30.
But it’s not so good for rear visibility.
Inside, there’s no shortage of hard plastic, but it’s nicely textured and doesn’t look cheap. The centre stack is simply laid out, with large dials for HVAC and basic buttons and knobs for the six-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system.
Steering is tilt/telescopic, and includes controls for audio, cruise and Bluetooth phone, and front seats get two-position heating. A power sunroof provides much-needed light to the mostly charcoal interior.
Headroom is abundant in back, and leg room is adequate for most, able to accommodate two adults – three in a pinch. The 60/40 seats drop to expand the generous 600-litre cargo hold to 1,345 litres. That was enough room last winter to swallow an entire trade show display, which I assumed would take two trips – or an SUV.
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Power comes from an all-aluminum 1.6-litre four cylinder with gasoline direct injection (GDI), and dual continuously variable valve timing. It makes 138 hp and 123 lb/ft of torque, besting several major competitors. But with tall gearing, it’s more about fuel economy than snappy performance.
At highway speeds, it turns over just north of 2,000 rpm, making this subcompact far less buzzy than some I’ve driven. And although the Accent is no hot hatch, it’s on par with much of the competition.
ActiveEco will help achieve the posted fuel economy of 8.9/6.3/7.7 L/100 km, but as it blunts the throttle and remaps the transmission for earlier shifting, any liveliness from the little four-pot engine is gone. I kept ActiveEco off most of the week and still achieved just over eight litres per 100 km combined.
Vehicles like this Accent hatchback, and the slightly more commodious Elantra GT I drove a week earlier, nicely fill the needs of today’s smaller families.
With ample room for four passengers, a “trunk” larger than most full-size sedans, and thrifty fuel economy, it’s no wonder so many buyers choose five doors over four.
BODY STYLE: Subcompact hatchback
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, six-speed automatic
ENGINE: 16-valve DOHC 1.6-litre inline four cylinder with GDI (138 hp, 123 lb/ft of torque)
CARGO: 600 litres behind rear seats, 1,345 litres with 60/40 second row folded
FUEL ECONOMY: 8.9/6.3/7.7 L/100 km (city/hwy/comb)
PRICE:?Base L 6MT $13,599; LE 6AT $15,999; GL 6MT $16,249; GL 6AT $17,499; SE 6AT $18,499; GLS 6MT $18,299;
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