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2012 Hyundai Accent Preview

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Although Hyundai first pulled the wraps off the 2012 Accent at the Montreal auto show back in January, in Canadian-market form, it didn't pull the wraps off the U.S.-spec version until at the New York auto show—just a few months before the model's summer arrival at dealerships.

And while we were a little afraid that Hyundai would, um, sanitize the Accent and tamp down its design goodness, especially in hatchback form, we're glad to see it's emerged essentially the same—looking like an especially formidable rival to the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and Chevrolet Sonic, among others.

Four-door sedan and five-door hatchback variants of the Accent will be offered this time, and the new subcompact model adopts Hyundai's "Fluidic Sculpture" design philosophy, which blends flowing, graceful sheetmetal with some more pronounced, purposeful creases. Especially noteworthy are the distinctive, upward rear taillamps, which look like a fresher take on cues we've seen in the Elantra Touring. The hatchback design especially 'pops' from the back, where that beltline crease wraps all the way around the hatch and taillamps.

At around 172 inches long for the sedan or 162 inches for the five-door, the Accent is several inches longer than the previous version; wheelbase is nearly three inches long as well, which indicates that the cabin is considerably larger. More than the typical small-car interior elements are here; the Accent includes split-folding back seats, a sliding center armrest and covered storage, a large glovebox, and various smaller storage areas. Hyundai claims the Accent has best-in-class cargo volume.

40 mpg, and lots more best-in-class boasts

The 2012 Hyundai Accent is the first vehicle to get the company's all-new 1.6-liter direct-injected (GDI) four-cylinder engine, making a claimed best-of-class 138 horsepower. It comes paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission and accomplishes what we think will be another class best: EPA fuel economy figures estimated at 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway for both manual and automatic versions, yielding a highway driving range of up to 456 miles.

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