The Hyundai Accent was an unremarkable car when it replaced the Excel in the U.S. in 1995 with 2- and 4-door body styles, a cheap interior and a 92-hp engine. In its first full year in the market, it lagged the Geo Metro in sales, and the Ford Escort outsold it nearly 6-to-1.
Forget what you thought this subcompact was all about. Three generations later, an all-new Accent is proving that the Korean auto maker’s string of high-quality, stylish hits are intended for every one of its vehicle segments, from entry-level to luxury.
Not convinced? Through March, the Accent has outsold the well-regarded Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta, according to WardsAuto data.
There are many reasons for the new Accent’s success, but the first-rate interior that carries over Hyundai’s provocative new “Fluidic Sculpture” design language cannot not be overlooked.
The interior stylists were given a long leash to incorporate flowing lines and tapered edges into an instrument panel that exudes warmth. The center stack achieves perfect symmetry with neatly aligned air vents stacked above an impressive audio system, which hovers above three nicely balanced climate-control knobs.
Money spent on premium touches such as the leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel and judiciously applied piano-black bezel around the radio convince the casual observer the Accent belongs in a higher-priced segment.
“It takes the sting out of being among the 99%,” writes editor James Amend on his Accent score sheet.
The 99% will find the Accent a tremendous bargain. Our SE-grade test vehicle arrived with a $15,925 sticker price that includes a trunkful of standard features, including a 6-speaker sound system, 90-day satellite radio trial, a USB audio jack, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows and locks, Bluetooth phone link, remote keyless entry, 16-in. alloy wheels and an award-winning direct-injection engine.
WardsAuto editors can be notoriously cranky, but not a single one complained that any part of the Accent interior feels or looks cheap. Attention to detail is evident along the cleanly finished edge of the headliner, which fits with luxury cars four times the price.
“This is how to do a subcompact interior,” writes editor Christie Schweinsberg. She also praises buttons and knobs that are “just the right size.”
The front bucket seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, and the layout is ergonomic and user-friendly. Back seats are comfortable and spacious and fold in a 60/40 split to yield a sizable cargo area.
There’s even an eco-smart attribute: The A-pillar trim is fabricated partially from volcanic ash.
“The Accent has nicer materials than many far more expensive cars,” writes editor Drew Winter. “Hyundai makes it look easy, but it is not.”