2012 Hyundai Accent GLS Hatchback Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Going small doesn't mean you need to forgo style anymore. New subcompact models are delivering a lot more character than the aptly named "econoboxes" of the past, and none is more attractive than the 2012 Hyundai Accent hatchback.

Just the same it's not all about looks, as I found out while test-driving this all-new model. The Accent is plenty fun to drive too. It was only a couple of years ago that class average performance equaled about 105 horsepower. Last year's Accent was actually one of the more powerful at 110, but performance has increased to 138 horsepower for 2012 and torque, critically important off the line, is up to 123 lb-ft from 106 last year. The engine looks the same at a glance at 1.6 litres, 16 valves and dual overhead cams, but this year Hyundai added direct injection for more zip from the throttle and less zap on your wallet: estimated fuel economy is now 6.7 L/100km city and 4.9 highway compared to last year's 7.2 and 5.7 rating.

The new Accent delivers more zig and zag too, with improved handling thanks to a recalibrated suspension and new 16-inch alloys, in the case of my GLS tester, an inch larger than the top-line rims offered last year. It feels stable at high speeds and great in the corners. Granted it's not a sports car, so understeer results when pushing hard, but the Accent is predictable in the way it pushes at the front wheels and totally controllable. Braking is good too, with standard ABS-enhanced four-wheel discs for quick response. It's the only subcompact hatch to offer standard four-wheel discs other than the Kia Rio, which in case you didn't know is more or less the same car with different styling.

My tester might have boasted top of the line GLS trim, but its transmission was base. Then again, a 6-speed manual gearbox is hardly bargain basement equipment. It shifts well and feels sporty for the class, and more capable than the automatic for getting all the performance out of the engine. That said the autobox is a 6-speed unit too, and much more advanced than the 4- and 5-speed automatics still being offered by rivals in the Accent's subcompact segment, while more engaging than a CVT. And it's only a $1,200 option.

Both transmissions are available across the Accent Hatchback lineup, which includes L, GL and GLS trim levels. Base L models are well equipped, especially considering they're priced at $15,094 including freight. The aforementioned four-wheel discs with ABS are joined by additional safety features such as traction and stability control, active front headrests, plus dual front airbags, front side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags front and rear. Comfort and convenience is taken care of by a tilt steering wheel, height-adjustable driver's seat, power door locks, an AM/FM/CD audio system with a USB and iPod interface, while body-colour door handles and mirror housings plus a rear spoiler finish off the look.

Air conditioning can be added at the dealer, or you can step up to a GL that includes air conditioning standard, along with keyless remote entry, powered windows, heated mirrors, cruise control, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a couple of tweeters to make the audio system sound better, all for $16,894. My GLS tester starts life at $18,694 including freight and adds those 16-inch alloy wheels I mentioned before, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated seats, a powered moonroof, voice-activated Bluetooth, fog lamps, and turn signals integrated into the mirror housings for a more upscale appearance, not to mention added safety.

Practically speaking, the new Accent is roomy front and back and loads up well too, with 487 litres (17.1 cubic feet) of cargo space ready and willing. Its 5-year or 100,000 km comprehensive warranty is plenty practical too, allowing for a better ownership experience than average and a higher resale value come time to trade in.

Even more important to a car's resale value is long-term desirability. If a car looks good, is filled with usable up-to-date features, offers good fuel economy and is generally fun to drive, it'll be more sought after than one that fails to measure up. The new 2012 Hyundai Accent hatchback is all of the above. A great looking subcompact packed with the latest tech and endowed with a fun-loving personality. It's a winner now and it'll be a winner five years from now.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Hyundai, 2012, Accent, $10,000 - $19,999, Subcompact,

Organizations: Hyundai

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