2006 Hyundai Accent SE 3-door

Sam Smith
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I, assistant editor Sam Smith, claim publicly that the Hyundai Accent SE is more fun than a Honda Fit! The Fit may have torque and sheer horsepower on the Hyundai, but the Honda's chassis falls flat under aggressive cornering--and ultimately fails to provide the kind of cheeky, chuckable, small-car goofiness we look for in something its size.

Where the Hyundai excels (no pun intended) is in the wholeness of its commitment. The chunky, often balky short shifter--a dealer-installed, B&M aftermarket piece--may occasionally feel a tad too notchy, but it also provides a cool, all-of-a-piece feeling every time you flick it into gear. The Accent's engine may be hugely down on power for the class, but with the optional airbox-free cone air filter on it, it lets out a throaty whomp every time you stand on the gas.

You stand on the gas a lot in the Accent. You have to in order to keep from getting run over by other traffic (or, for that matter, asthmatic squirrels). But that's not the point.

The Hyundai, you see, is proof positive that this whole car business isn't always about pure speed. Yes, the steering is overboosted and far too numb. Yes, with four people inside and the air-conditioning cranking, you might as well be behind the wheel of an electric lawnmower. And, yes, the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris both make far more sense as actual, practical, usable cars. But the Accent has something those cars don't: personality. Its chassis boasts a far more tossable, rally car-like balance than you'd find in the Honda or Toyota. Its snorty, rorty intake, combined with the car's goofy little chipmunk face, actually makes you laugh out loud. And when you're bombing down some winding country road, throttle foot plastered to the floor and speed limits unbroken, you start to wonder if there's any reason to ever have more car.

Then, of course, you have some turbocharged Porsche or--horrors!--even your numbnuts neighbor with the old Volkswagen blow your doors off. And you stop wondering. But for a moment there, the Hyundai was all you needed. And that's why we love it. Click the link below to see for yourself just how fun the Accent can be.

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