Hyundai started selling cars here in America in 1985. Its first U.S. product, a $4995 hatchback paradoxically named the Excel, was most noteworthy for being the cheapest new car on the market. Of course, it was an absolute turd of a car, and its price wasn’t the only cheap thing about it. A quarter-century later, Hyundai still sells America’s cheapest set of wheels, although at $10,735, the 2011 Accent is a little more than twice the price of the Excel—and at least twice as nice. Come summer, Hyundai will replace its smallest model with the considerably improved 2012 Accent that’s making its debut at the 2011 New York auto show. And from what we’ve seen so far, this Accent might actually excel at something beyond affordability.
If you see a little—okay, more than a little—of the Ford Fiesta's “Kinetic” form vocabulary in the Hyundai Accent’s “Fluidic Sculpture” styling, you’re not alone. The Accent’s large headlamps, sweeping body-side ridge, and high-set taillamps do look good, imparting a more exciting look than that of the current car. And it would probably look darn futuristic if Ford hadn’t put such similar elements on its Fiesta two years ago; call this the Hyundai Fête. Also like the Fiesta, the 2012 Accent looks somewhat better as a hatchback than a sedan. To be fair, the Accent resembles other Hyundais as much as it does the Fiesta, including the sleek Sonata, the new 2011 Elantra, and the Tucson.
Inside, the 2012 Accent’s interior furnishings now align with those in most other new Hyundais, with modern décor offered in black, gray, and beige. Hyundai characterizes the Accent as having “class above” interior space because it’s EPA-classified as a compact while having a subcompact footprint, and further claims class-leading cargo space for the five-door models.
Between the Accent’s two body styles (a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback; the entry-level, three-door Accent is discontinued for 2012) are three unique trim levels: GS and sport-flavored SE trims are hatchback-only, while Accent sedans come only in GLS guise. The GS hatch serves as Hyundai’s low-baller, and is decently equipped with a six-speed manual, air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, and six speakers for the stereo. The SE hatch adds niceties like cruise control, Bluetooth, upgraded cloth upholstery, 16-inch alloys, fog lamps, and a rear spoiler. The GLS sedan rolls on puny 14s like the GS hatch and comes with a six-speed manual as standard, power door locks, and a four-speaker sound system. The Comfort package adds air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, and an upgraded audio system. Regardless of trim level, all Accents are loaded up with safety equipment, including front, front-side, and front and rear side-curtain airbags; four-wheel disc brakes; and stability control.
Thanks to: Car and Driver