Expected quality freshened with added standard features
For more than 10 years, Hyundai’s Accent has been building popularity on the U.S. automotive scene by offering good quality with often unexpected features and performance at affordable entry-level prices.
The 2008 model year is no different. The Accent lineup provides an impressive list of new standard features and equipment along with significant interior and exterior improvements, which tend to raise the bar in the compact market segment.
Enhancements include XM Satellite Radio with three months of free service, auxiliary input jack that allows iPods and other portable MP3 players to be connected directly into the audio system, tire pressure monitoring system, B&M Racing sport shifter (Standard SE only), new Mellow Yellow exterior color option available on GS and SE and rear center armrest with cup holders added to SE (standard on GLS).
The Hyundai Accent comes three ways – as a four-door sedan in GLS trim or a three-door configuration in either GS trim or the sportier SE trim level. All Accent models are powered by a 1.6-liter DOHC in-line four-cylinder engine featuring four valves per cylinder. The engine to provide a very broad powerband, coupled with high fuel efficiency and low emissions.
Performance peaks at 110 horsepower at 6000 rpm and torque is 106 pound-feet at 4500 rpm. There are two transmissions to choose from – the five-speed manual gearbox is standard and a four-speed transmission with overdrive is also available. With the manual transmission, the Accent’s EPA mileage is 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway while the optional four-speed automatic transmission delivers an EPA rating of 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.
The Accent GLS 4-door sedan has a distinctive look with upscale styling cues like the chrome-accented grille. The door handles, mirrors, side moldings and rear garnish trim combine with bold tail lights and character lines to deliver a strong presence. The roof-mounted micro-antenna provides improved radio reception, and the new 15-inch wheel design further enhances the design.
The three-door Accent GS and SE reflect Hyundai’s sleek, confident design direction. Up front, the GS and SE feature an aggressive body-color grille with fog lights standard on the SE. Accent SE’s high-performance P205/45R16 tires and lightweight five-spoke aluminum wheels provide a more planted feel. The long wheelbase and elevated seating positions increase the feeling of interior spacious. A rear spoiler and wiper are standard on the Accent SE, adding to its sporty flavor.
Accent delivers more total interior volume than either the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic – both cars that are a segment above Accent. The Accent four-door sedan has a total interior volume of 104.6 cubic-feet, besting the larger Civic sedan by 1.7 cubic-feet. The Accent also provides more passenger volume than Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Chevrolet Aveo. The three-door Accent has a total interior volume of 108.1 cubic-feet, making it roomer than the Civic Coupe by 12.9 cubic feet. The Accent three-door also delivers class-leading interior volume in the three-door segment with 15.9 cubic-feet of cargo space – 6.6 cubic-feet larger than the three-door Yaris.
Accent’s interior consists of a two-tone interior color scheme with either a gray or beige theme or a sporty, black monotone available on three-door vehicles. Analog instrumentation is improved on the GLS and SE, while power steering, a tilt steering wheel and an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with fold-down armrest makes for comfortable extended travel. Convenient storage areas exist throughout, including bins in the front and rear center console. All Accents have a 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback for maximum flexibility. The Accent three-door’s rear seats recline for additional comfort.
Standard features include two-speed variable intermittent wipers, adjustable head restraints, cabin air filtration, rear window defroster, tachometer, new rear coat hook, digital clock, two 12-volt outlets and remote hood and fuel filler door releases. Audiophiles will appreciate the available 172-watt AM/FM/XM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with easy-to-use controls and a total of six speakers.
My test Hyundai Accent was a three-door in the sportier SE trim, with the standard five-speed tranny. The exterior sported an Apple Green metallic finish while the interior was executed in beige cloth and charcoal tones. The base price was established at $14,575. The optional aluminum door sills, sporty floor mats and freight and handling charge boosted the final sticker to reasonable $15,370.
The 2008 Hyundai Accent SE three-door is an affordable, spacious and sporty-looking compact vehicle. It comes with a surprising level of standard amenities and offers a substantial inventory of options, allowing the consumer to make it their own according their individual needs and tastes.
The ride quality is comfortable and the driving dynamics deliver nimble, responsive behavior. Sporty it is, a sports car it is not. The GS and SE three-door is best suited to singles or couples, while families with small children may want to opt for the four-door GLS sedan for the added convenience of installing a child car seat or booster. The moveable passenger seat in the three-door models presents a bit of a challenge for installation.
Don’t expect to smoke the tires off-the-line or to experience excessive G-force – however acceleration is substantial enough to accomplish most intended tasks however. The engine is on the buzzy side when pushed hard, but it isn’t intrusive. The focus of the Accent is to provide comfortable, efficient transportation that can be enjoyable to drive. Factor in the advantage of what Hyundai claims to be America’s best warranty, including five years and 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and a 10-year/100,000-mile power train warranty, and choosing Accent can becomes an even more sound decision.
2008 Hyundai Accent SE 3-Door
Base price: $14,575
Price as tested: $15,370
Engine/transmission: 1.6- liter, 110-horsepower, four-cylinder; five-speed manual
Wheelbase: 98.4 inches
Length: 168.5 inches
Width: 66.7 inches
Height: 57.9 inches
Curb weight: 2,496 pounds
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons
Fuel consumption: 27 mpg city/32 mpg highway