The little Korean engine that could. Small cars used to be cars that people bought by necessity, not by choice.
The subcompact segment has been one of the most competitive markets in the recent past, with many manufacturers introducing new and interesting products trying to get their own piece of the pie. A few years ago, the Japanese manufacturers pretty much had the entire subcompact segment to themselves, as neither the Koreans nor the Americans could come up with decent products to put up a good enough fight. Now, Ford and GM are going strong and Hyundai has the highest market share it’s ever had. It’s been said that competition is always good for consumers and in this case it is no different. Now, the small car is entirely different from what it was just several years ago. The design process is different, the build quality is improved, and most importantly, it’s an entirely new philosophy.
A few months back, I drove the Hyundai Elantra Coupé, so I already know how much Hyundai’s cars have improved over the past few years. Coupled with the other impressive subcompacts I have had the opportunity to drive lately, I had high hopes for the Accent, and after a week, I can say that the experience was entirely positive. Relatively unchanged from 2012, the 2013 Hyundai Accent hatchback GLS incorporates Hyundai’s modern design philosophy – the fluidic styling. Almost everyone I’ve talked to has had nothing but good things to say about the new Hyundai.
Great styling in a value-focused product isn’t something to be taken for granted, and personally, I’m a fan of the looks. Its big headlights coupled with the fog lights help make the front end aggressive. The lines that flow from the front of the car all the way to the rear; once again, a great idea. The 16” alloys, the vibrant paint colours offered, even the taillights that extend from the top of the hatch all the way to the bottom; it all seems to work for me. When I see these cheap and cheerful cars with great, modern styling, I wonder how some other manufacturers, even premium ones, can get it so wrong. I did notice that when I parked beside a Mazda2, the front ends of the Accent and Mazda2 are surprisingly similar. That’s just a personal observation though.
The 2013 Hyundai Accent Hatchback GLS is equipped with a 1.6L inline-4; direct injected, a first in this segment. The four banger is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, all in all a good package that works well. The engine produces 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque, which is ample for a car with one of the best power-to-weight ratios in its class. It zips around the city very competently but the engine does feel “lazy” and begins to sound rougher as you go up in the revs. The 6-speed transmission allows the Accent to cruise on the highway at relatively low RPMs, which is a surprise given the amount of subcompacts that sit around the 3500rpm mark at highway speeds. However, the transmission does need to downshift at least two gears for the engine to produce enough power to pass on the highway. In the handling department, the Accent is not as good as the Mazda2, my personal benchmark in the class, but I’m not disappointed. The ride of the Accent is unmatched in its class; despite its short wheelbase.
Hyundai’s claimed fuel economy numbers are 7.2L/100km city and 5.2L/100km highway, for a combined 6.3L/100km. I was getting around 7.4/100km combined before the biggest snowstorm of the year hit, which in all honestly skewed the figure quite a bit. All in all, the instantaneous figures I observed suggested that the Accent’s fuel economy numbers aren’t all that different from what Hyundai projects.
My Hyundai Accent Hatchback GLS automatic tester had an as-tested price of $18,949, around $4,000 more than the base automatic Accent. For the price difference, you get all of the typical power options, air conditioning a sunroof, and even heated front seats. The GLS also comes equipped with an audio system with iPod, USB, MP3, Sirius XM radio, and Bluetooth audio. The 14” wheels get upgraded to 16” alloys along with the addition of fog lights. Safety features such as traction control and front, side, and curtain airbags come standard on all Accents. The interior is aesthetically well designed and well laid out. A few years ago, an interior or standard equipment list as substantial as this one would have been unheard of in the class. It just goes to say how times have changed.
One of my best friends has the previous generation Accent and although I’d never say this to his face, it’s a pretty horrid car. However, after testing the 2013 Hyundai Accent Hatchback GLS, I’ve come to a realization. Small cars used to be cars that people bought by necessity, not by choice. They used to be basic, mundane, cheap-feeling, and just plain awful. Now cars like the Hyundai Accent Hatchback GLS that offer good power, space, comfort, and fuel efficiency have redefined the segment entirely. A car that offers so much for so little? I’m thoroughly impressed.
2013 Hyundai Accent Hatchback GLS Gallery