First Look: 2012 Hyundai Accent

As if class-leading power and fuel economy weren't enough, Hyundai is also claiming head-of-class cargo capacity, besting even the capacious Fit by 0.6 cubic feet with the rear seat up. However, the Fit's clever interior packaging does give it a 9.8 cubic-foot edge in hauling volume with the rear seats folded.

But wait, there's more. The Accent also features the only segment-standard four-wheel disc brakes. Nearly all its primary competitors have rear drums, save for the Fiat, which is a more premium offering a la the Mini Cooper.

In terms of size, the Hyundai boasts the longest wheelbase in the segment at 101.2 inches, roughly three inches longer than most of its peers. Overall length is also on the longer side, with the hatch stretching 162 inches from stem to stern, and the sedan totaling 172 inches. Only the Fiesta sedan is longer, at 173.6 inches.

Although the new Accent five-door is narrowly edged out by the voluminous Fit in overall passenger volume at 90.1 cubic feet versus 90.8 cubic feet, it bests the Mazda 2 and Fiesta by 3.7 and 5.7 cubic feet, respectively. The sedan is slightly smaller at 89.7 cubic feet, but hardly enough that anyone will notice.

In terms of styling, the Accent five-door most closely resembles the Fiesta. In fact, when we first laid eyes on it, many of us said, "Looks like a Fiesta with the Elantra's nose." And we mean that as the highest possible compliment, as the Fiesta is regarded by many as being the handsomest subcompact hatch. The rear has a hint of the BMW 1 Series hatch (which isn't sold in the U.S.), but overall the Accent hatch has a smart, contemporary look that should appeal to a broad spectrum of the car-buying public. The sedan likewise has a fresh look, but it's not quite as bold and distinctive as the slightly larger Elantra, and the rear angle has a slight mini-Buick look to it. Regardless, both models are a major stylistic improvement over their nondescript predecessors.

Although the Mazda and the Fiesta are the current staff favorites among the subcompact class, the new Accent looks to be a strong contender for our affections. Rest assured, as soon as we can get our hands on one for a first drive and comparison test, we plan on pitting it against the current class leaders.

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