2012 Hyundai Accent GL sedan. Click image to enlarge
But for most buyers in this price range, this car should work just fine. The six-speed automatic keeps the engine at perky revs, so it’s always willing to do what’s needed. There’s the expected wind-up when you hit the throttle hard for passing, but it’s not as bad as you’d think; except for fairly loud splashing noises in the rear wheel wells on a rainy road, the cabin is very quiet. There is an “Eco” mode that drops the revolutions considerably – down to 1,900 rpm at 110 km/h when engaged – but to my surprise, it still wasn’t as much of a dog as, say, Nissans tend to be when their economy modes are set in motion. The automatic also has a manual shift mode that is operated via the gearshift lever. And while the steering could use a bit of work overall, the car responds quickly to input nevertheless, and there’s no need to keep correcting it to stay between the highway lines. The ride is just slightly on the soft side and is quite comfortable; overall, it feels like a much larger car than it actually is. On a trip into downtown Toronto, though, its small footprint was just the thing for tight parking spots and crowded streets.
The interior is plain but handsome, and while it’s a wide expanse of plastic, most of it is textured. I don’t use the driver’s door armrest when I’m piloting, but my husband does and he complained that it was unpleasantly hard where his elbow fits. The controls are simple and easy to use, with decently-sized dials for the climate controls and simple buttons for the stereo. The USB and auxiliary input are on the radio face, so the cords hang down if you plug in your player, although it slips into the large open cubby below the centre stack. The ice-blue instrument lighting looks pretty classy, but there needs to be more illumination on the doors, as none of the switches light up at night. You should always be able to immediately find the lock buttons in the dark.
The front-row seats are very roomy, and for the car’s size, there’s quite a bit of leg space for the rear-seat passengers too, although very tall ones will find their knees crunched up against hard plastic seatbacks. The rear seats fold to increase the trunk’s 389-litre space, which comes with a fairly low lift-over for easier loading.
The new Accent’s redesign is a good one, to the point that it’s easy to forget that you’re in the subcompact segment; much of the time it feels like you’re sitting in a slightly smaller Elantra. It won’t get enthusiasts’ tongues wagging, but for its market, it’s very well done and at an intelligent price – a halo indeed.
Pricing: 2012 Hyundai Accent GL Sedan