Hyundai is on a roll these days, having just launched the wildly successful Sonata midsize sedan and the Elantra compact. Both cars are selling at record volumes, and Hyundai has ramped up production at their Montgomery, Alabama plant (where both cars are built) to meet demand. The line is running three shifts per day, but that’s still not enough to meet demand, so Hyundai is importing additional cars from Korea.
For any automaker, such success would be a tough act to follow. For Hyundai, it’s just business as usual, and their newly-launched Accent subcompact is about to change the market in the same way its bigger brothers did. Forget everything you may know about the outgoing Hyundai Accent, which was inexpensive and designed to compete on price alone. The new car is better styled (carrying on Hyunda’s “fluidic sculpture” exterior design theme), roomier, more comfortable, and much safer, thanks to the addition of electronic stability control, traction control, and even electronic brakeforce distribution. You can read our full review of the 2012 Hyundai Accent here.
Just as the 2011 Hyundai Elantra set the bar for compact cars, the 2011 Hyundai Accent will cause consumers to rethink what’s possible from an entry-level subcompact. All Accents come powered by Hyundai’s 1.6-liter Gamma engine, which somehow manages to produce both class-leading horsepower and highway fuel economy of 40 mpg. With 138 horsepower, driving a car that weighs just 2,400 pounds, acceleration is surprisingly brisk. The Accent pulls away from a stop noticeably harder than the competition, and it never manages to feel like an economy car.
Full story after the jump.
Steering is well-weighted, and the car feels very “tossable” in corners, thanks largely to its light weight. There’s enough body roll in corners to remind you that the Accent isn’t a sports car, and gentle understeer is the order of the day when the car is pushed hard. If the Accent GLS or GS is too soft for your liking, Hyundai does include a “sport suspension” on range-topping SE models, but I still wouldn’t plan on taking home any autocross trophies in the Accent.
The ride quality is good, even over broken pavement, which is somewhat surprising given the Accents diminutive size. The brakes provide decent pedal feel and short-enough stopping distances, and the Accent is the only subcompact car to include four-wheel disc brakes as standard equipment. From an entertainment perspective, the 2012 Hyundai Accent is more fun behind the wheel than any subcompact competitor I can think of, and only the upcoming 2012 Chevy Sonic has a chance of unseating the Accent in that category.
The days of the Hyundai Accent being the cheapest car in America are over, and Hyundai is betting that the new car will win buyers based on content, fuel economy, styling, and performance. We’re inclined to believe they’re right, and recommend you drive the 2012 Hyundai Accent if you’re in the market for an alternative to boring subcompacts.