NEW FOR 2008:

– Two-door GS Premium (manual and automatic) and four-door GLS (manual) have been discontinued
– Entry-level GL and GS replaced with L trim line
– GL and GS Comfort now called GL
– GS Sport replaced with GL Sport
– ABS option now comes with rear drum brakes instead of discs
– Heated mirrors deleted
– New 15-inch wheel design
– Standard audio auxiliary plug
– Standard engine immobilizer

For 2008, Hyundai simplifies its popular Accent; both the two-door hatchback and four-door sedan are available in one of three trim lines, most in manual or standard configuration.

The hatchback is available only as a two-door – Hyundai calls it a “three-door”, since it counts the hatch – and the company says it has no plans to add a four-door hatchback.

All Accents use a 1.6-litre inline four-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) and a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic for $1,000. The GLS now comes only with an automatic transmission.

The two-door hatchback starts at the L, which includes 14-inch steel wheels, floor mats, CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, dual manual remote mirrors, rear washer/wiper, rear spoiler, and engine immobilizer.

The GL adds air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, and power mirrors.

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

The four-door sedan L and GL trim lines are similar to the two-door hatchback; the GLS adds 15-inch alloy wheels, ABS with electronic brake force distribution, side and curtain airbags, heated front seats and fog lamps.

The Accent remains a decent little car for the money, although the GLS rises in price even as it drops its rear disc brakes in favour of drums. The five-speed manual is one of the smoothest at this price point, and the fit-and-finish is good, with textured plastic.

The hatchback’s rear seat is surprisingly roomy, with an easy-entry sliding front passenger seat; but inherent to the two-door design, it’s a long reach back to the seatbelt, and if children need to be buckled in, it might be difficult for parents to reach.

The Accent is a very basic car, which may turn off drivers who want items such as cruise control, or who want side and curtain airbags and ABS without moving up to the top-line GLS model. Still, the performance is good, the styling is sporty, and the price is very reasonable.

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