2008 Hyundai Accent SE

IT'S NOT FAST, BUT IT IS FUN

Making 110 hp from its 1.6-liter engine, the Accent slots right between its competitors in power, beating the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, and Chevrolet Aveo but yielding to the Nissan Versa and Suzuki SX4. True to the subcompact creed, it is not fast off the line but is willing to play when driven aggressively. Keep the revs above 3000 rpm and you'll have no problem swiftly merging onto highways, or passing slower vehicles.

In SE trim, the Accent comes standard with a B&M Racing sport shifter attached to the five-speed manual gearbox. Shifts are quick and easy to find, yet still a bit clunky. Paired together, the engine and transmission provide adequate acceleration and an engaging drive. Fuel economy is competitive, with manual Accents rated at 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, and automatics delivering 24 mpg and 33 mpg, respectively.

TURN WHEELS FOR MORE FUN

At just about 2500 pounds, the Accent hatchback is of average weight in the subcompact class. But this universal low-weight characteristic is often what makes the other subcompact universal characteristic - low power - tolerable. Get the car up to speed and it's a blast to snake through turns.

Low weight alone does not make a car handle well. Body roll and understeer in the Accent are minimal, controlled by Hyundai's sport-tuned suspension with stiffer springs and dampers. The set-up uses coil springs working with struts in the front and a torsion bar suspension in the rear. The low-profile Kumho tires are a good match for the Accent, working hard to grip rather than squeal through turns. Steering is well weighted, but could be improved by offering more feedback.

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