Set to go on sale this summer is Hyundai’s 2012 Accent five-door hatchback, a gasoline-engine car that returns up to 40-mpg on the highway. The Accent sedan had its global debut earlier this year at the Montreal auto show.
Hyundai had also displayed it at the New York auto show. Hyundai estimates that the Accent will return 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The Accent is actually the third Hyundai vehicle launched this year that attained a fuel economy rating of 40-mpg on the highway.
The two other models are the 2011 Elantra and 2012 Veloster sporty coupe. The Accent is powered by a new 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline direct injection engine that delivers 138 hp.
Other new items for 2012 are two Hyundai-developed six-speed automatic and manual transmissions. In an interview, John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said that all Accent models, including the 2011 Elantra that started selling this year, will get 40 mpg on the highway.
Krafcik said that Hyundai wanted to use technologies like this throughout the lineup instead of hybrids, or a small number of “low-volume, special edition fuel economy leaders.”
The styling of the Accent is inspired by the "fluidic sculpture" design theme seen on the Sonata mid-sized sedan and Elantra compact sedan. The base 2012 Accent has a starting price of $13,205, including shipping.
Hyundai had its best U.S. sales year in history in 2010 with almost 540,000 units sold. Of this figure, nearly 200,000 are Sonatas. Through March, Elantra sales totaled 41,203 units, about 73% higher than the same period last year.
Spacious interior in a subcompact shell
The 2012 Hyundai Accent has a 101.2 inch wheelbase, which is 2.8 inches longer than its predecessor. The width has also been increased by 0.2 inches to 67.1 inches. The 4-door version is also longer by 3.5 inches – its current length is 172 inches. Meanwhile, the 5-door model is 162 inches in length. These dimensional increases consequently make the interior more spacious in terms of passenger space and volume.
In fact, the EPA classifies the 2012 Accent as a compact sedan despite the fact that its external dimensions are still at par with most subcompacts, like the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris. Also, the Hyundai Accent five-door offers class-leading cargo volume. Its cargo capacity exceeds that of the Infiniti EX 35 crossover and Nissan Juke. The Accent’s front and rear shoulder room are also unmatched in its class.
The primary ingredient for a car to have reliable driving dynamics is its stability. The 2012 Hyundai Accent is made of high-tensile strength steel. This makes its body shell to be light, sturdy and 22 percent stiffer than the older Accent.
With the increased stiffness, Hyundai engineers were able to optimise the suspension tuning better. Therefore, the Accent now has more responsive handling as well as ride comfort. A MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and twin-tube gas shock absorbers is used, while the rear suspension is a torsion-axle configuration with coil springs and monotube shock absorbers.
The steering system of all Accent variants is a column-mounted, motor-driven electric power steering that very quickly adapts to driving conditions while also contributing to fuel efficiency compared to conventional systems. The Accent achieves a 34.1-foot turning diameter which exceeds the Versa, Fit and Fiesta. The SE five-door variant also has improved steering calibration for a more dynamic feel.