NEW FOR 2009:

- Improved fuel efficiency
- GLS sedan adds standard cruise control
- New 25th Anniversary Edition

For 2009, the Hyundai Accent is now more fuel efficient, according to the company; manual-equipped cars will show a three per cent improvement, while automatic-equipped cars will show improvement of five per cent on the highway, and seven per cent in the city.

There is also a 25th Anniversary Edition, launched in honour of the brand’s years in Canada, offered on the sedan; it builds on the GL Auto trim line and adds heated seats, fog lights, power sunroof and 25th Anniversary Edition badge.

The Accent comes as a four-door sedan or a two-door hatchback, which Hyundai calls the 3-Door. Trim lines for the sedan are the L, GL and GLS, while the hatchback comes as the L, GL and GL with Sport Package.

All models use a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing (CVVT). A five-speed manual transmission can be optioned to a four-speed automatic in all models except the GLS, which uses the automatic exclusively. The 25th Anniversary Edition also uses the automatic only.

Features on the L sedan include 14-inch steel wheels, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and four speakers, manual multi-adjustable driver’s seat with armrest, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, vanity mirrors, tilt wheel, rear centre armrest with cupholders, and variable intermittent wipers.

The GL adds air conditioning, power mirrors, power locks with keyless entry, and power windows with driver’s auto-down.

The GLS adds 15-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, fog lights, seat side and curtain airbags, heated seats, and six speakers.

Features on the L hatchback include 14-inch steel wheels, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and four speakers, manual multi-adjustable driver’s seat and armrest, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, vanity mirrors, tilt wheel, rear spoiler, variable intermittent wipers, and intermittent rear wiper/washer.

The GL adds air conditioning, power mirrors, power locks with keyless entry, and power windows with driver’s auto-down.

The GL with Sport Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport-tuned suspension, power sunroof, and six speakers.

The Accent remains a decent little car for the money, especially with factory discounts that can bring the base hatchback down to under $10,000. The five-speed manual is among the smoothest at this price point, and the interior is well-done, with good fit-and-finish and textured plastic.

The hatchback is surprisingly roomy in its back seat, with an easy-entry sliding front door, but inherent to the two-door design, it’s a long reach to the back seat, and parents may find it difficult if small children need to have their seatbelts buckled for them.

Overall, the Accent is very basic, and you need to move up to the top line to get anti-lock brakes and extra airbags, but the low price and long warranty make it very competitive in the compact segment.