Long gone is the time when small cars were insubstantial vehicles ill-suited to anything but around-town driving. Case in point is the fifth-generation Hyundai Accent, introduced last year. Its European-inspired styling shrouds a strong structure made up of a lot of lightweight high-strength steel. That means this latest Accent is only marginally heavier than its predecessor despite being larger and roomier.
This year, the Accent carries over with no changes except for the adoption of the brand's new trim level naming convention. Last year's alphabet soup L/GL/GLS trims are replaced by Essential, Preferred and Ultimate in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles, the latter of which is not available in the U.S.
The Accent's engine remains a 1.6L four-cylinder that makes 132 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque. All three trims come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, with a six-speed automatic being the option.
Hyundai's competition here includes cars like the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic and the Kia Rio, which is a mechanical twin thanks to Hyundai's ownership of that "other" Korean brand. The subcompact class will soon be one car smaller when Ford yanks the Fiesta from North American showrooms after 2019.
Standard kit in Essential trim includes 15-inch steel wheels with covers, variable intermittent front wipers, cloth upholstery, six-way driver and four-way front passenger manual seat adjustments, 5.0-inch colour infotainment touchscreen, four-speaker stereo, tilt steering wheel and power door locks.
An Essential Comfort package adds the automatic transmission, power-adjustable and heated side mirrors, Bluetooth, air conditioning and power windows.
Preferred trim brings alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated front seats, 7.0-inch infotainment display, a six-speaker stereo, tilt-and-telescopic steering, cruise control, keyless entry and a rear-seat USB charging port.
Finally, Ultimate trim comes with four-wheel disc brakes (rear discs replace drums), 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, fog lights, chrome exterior trim, sunroof, upgraded cloth upholstery, leather-trimmed shifter and steering wheel, automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, trip computer, passive keyless entry and forward collision warning with avoidance assist.
Hyundai's fuel consumption estimates for the Accent are 8.2/6.3 L/100 km (city/highway) with the manual transmission. In automatic-equipped cars, the highway rating drops to 6.2 L/100 km.
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