BEST-IN-CLASS FUEL ECONOMY AND POWER

Power for the Accent comes from a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with direct-injection, a first for the segment. With 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque, its significantly more than the current competition, but on par with the upcoming Chevrolet Sonics 1.4L turbocharged engine though that car musters a significant 148 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the rest of the competition, the Accent will deliver 30-mpg in town and 40-mpg on the highway, with either an automatic or manual transmission and without the aid of any special aerodynamic packages. While these numbers are impressive, we couldnt help but wonder why Hyundai was unable to squeeze better figures out of the Accent, when the heavier Elantra manages the exact same fuel economy digits with a larger engine and one that doesnt have direct injection. One Hyundai rep told us that the gearing on the Accent was different, and the extra mpg was left on the table in favor of better in-gear acceleration numbers.

We didnt get to sample the 6-speed automatic, but found the 6-speed manual well matched to the engine. While it lacked any pretense of sportiness, the shifter and clutch are a breeze to operate in traffic, and on the highway we found ourselves cruising comfortably in 6th without any undue noise or vibration. This is one area where the Fiesta loses out to the Accent, and while fun-to-drive might be on the radar of auto journalists everywhere, comfortable highway driving is far more relevant to any potential subcompact buyers.

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