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Accent on Style

The 2011 Hyundai Accent

After staring and staring at the new Hyundai Accent for, oh, I don’t know, hours, it finally hit me. I knew there was something really different about it but couldn’t put my finger on it. Okay, besides the fact that it was totally restyled; it wasn’t just that.

Then I turned around and my eyes fell on the case which holds part of my old Matchbox car collection. And it hit me. Those old cars were (and still are) one of my prized possessions. Even as a kid there was something about them that looked very un-toylike. The proportions were just right and the styling was true to the full-sized cars they were modeled after. Then there were always those off-brand little cars that your good-intentioned aunt would buy for you at whatever was that era’s equivalent of today’s dollar store. They looked like cheap toys. Bloated, tiny-wheeled little cars made in some country you never heard of.

I think that the stylists of the early Hyundai Accents played with a lot of those Aunt Millie specials.

Fast-forward to the new 2012 Accent. It comes in two flavors: a five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan. And both, I’m happy to say, are among the handsomest sub-compacts on the market. Gone is the humpy little three-door which, to me anyway, looked like a 1949 Plymouth from the back. (Not that the Plymouth was totally unattractive in its day, but today isn’t its day.) The new Accent sedan looks a bit like a shrunken Hyundai Elantra, which in turn looks a little like a shrunken Hyundai Sonata; in the meantime, the new Accent hatchback looks a little like a shrunken Hyundai Elantra Touring. All of this is good, as new Hyundais have been turning heads of buyers and instilling fear into Toyota executives, who are hearing footsteps.

Let’s get down to specifics. The Accent has a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $14,195 for the base four-door GLS model. That will get you a six-speed manual transmission, a 138-horsepower, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine, electronic stability control, ABS, power windows, and traction control, among other stuff. Another grand will add a six-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai considers the Accent’s competition to be the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Chevy Aveo, and Mazda 2—and the Accent is the only one of these to offer six-speeds in both manual and automatic versions. Moving on up to the five-door GS model will add (among other things) air conditioning, power locks, cruise control (A/T models only), and remote keyless entry. The five-door SE adds on fog lamps, Bluetooth, 16-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, rear spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and premium seats.

All 2012 Accents are EPA-rated 30/40 miles per agllon city/highway from their GDI (gasoline direct inject) engine, a system that Hyundai claims is first in its class. Other bests-in-class claimed are fuel economy, five-door cargo volume, and horsepower. All Accents are front-wheel drive, and the new 2012 Accents are riding wheelbases almost three inches longer than the previous model, which has resulted in more interior space for both passengers and cargo. As a matter of fact, the exterior size of the Accent would classify it as a sub-compact by government standards, but because of the large interior volume it is officially a compact. Why all manufacturers can’t make their cars bigger on the inside without making them bigger also on the outside is beyond me.

Overall, especially with their 10-year/100,000-mile warranty figured in, it looks like Hyundai will have another winner in its showroom. If you’re thinking of taking a look at the new Accent, they’re selling them as fast as they get them in. Don’t wait for the Matchbox version to come out. Or the 99-cent Aunt Millie special.

More info at

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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