February 14, 2013
Review and photos by Steven Bochenek
2013 Hyundai Accent GLS Hatchback
“Oh, it’s bigger than it looks from the outside,” said my wife at the start of her one trip in the 2013 Hyundai Accent during the week I tested it. It was just one of several surprises it provided. Most were good ones.
Indeed one that continually surprises car shoppers is how Hyundai demystifies the purchase experience. Beyond trim levels, transmissions and sometimes all-wheel drive, they eliminate any options. Simple.
Why? 1) The entry-level subcompact is a very competitive category. Any advantage manufacturers can give themselves makes a big difference. 2) The 80/20 rule. That is, it’s four times harder to acquire a customer than to keep one. Manufacturers know that once you settle on their brand, you’re far more likely to do it again. So they’re desperate to get you at this level, when you’re young. As you age, you’ll probably upgrade to the more expensive models.
This GLS 6AT tester was the top of the Accent’s line, with automatic transmission (hence ‘AT’). A pity, that: manual transmissions are much more fun in subcompacts. A manual also helps you wrest every drop of muscle out of that 1.6L four-cylinder engine. Not that it’s a bad engine. It was awarded one Ward’s ten best last year.1 Direct injection increases power output. Again, every little bit helps to max it out at 138 hp. Its light curb weight of just 1,204 kg helps, too (the Honda Fit, a direct competitor, weighs 1,162 when similarly equipped with an automatic; advantage Honda).
2013 Hyundai Accent GLS Hatchback. Click image to enlarge
Still, you won’t be racing up any hills with it, but in your daily commute it stands still in congested traffic every bit as fast as an eight-cylinder German sedan. Just don’t expect to win any races for suddenly available spaces in traffic. Be patient and don’t toot that horn. It’s as aggressive sounding as a newborn gosling.
Fortunately that automatic transmission upgrade comes with a sport shift. (Who doesn’t these days?) If you’ve paid extra to avoid shifting, you probably won’t — even clutchlessly — but, as you’ll see later, it came in very handy on one occasion.
Back to its size. My wife’s backhanded compliment was accurate. It doesn’t look big from the outside, but the space is well distributed within. At 1,450 mm tall, 5 shorter than the Kia Rio 5-Door, it’s not easily accessible. You’ll be pulling the driver’s seat back and forth to get in and out (and comfortable) but you’ll adapt quickly enough. It has the same wheelbase as the Kia, 2,570 mm, which means not a lot of backseat space, especially if the driver is long-legged. However, the Accent has a bit less up front, which means more for the passengers in back, something to consider if you intend to transport others regularly. I drove it around town with passengers and they were fine with it.