One by one, Hyundai has replaced a generation of bland, somewhat derivative designs with revolutionary ones that are daring and imaginative, with a distinctive, unique design direction.
With some of the brand's swoopy 'fluidic sculpture' design cues and well-sculpted sheetmetal, the Accent is quite handsome. On sedans, the stubby trunk cuts short the curves of the roofline a bit soon, but the trapezoidal frame around the grille and the shoulder lines carved and honed into the Accent's flanks accumulate into an authentic Hyundai design thesis. With the five-door, it gets better, as that shoulder line is drawn all the way out to its tightly pinched hatchback. The upthrusts of the taillamps are particularly strong details, wrapping around the hatchback and summing up the styling like punctuation.
The dynamic sheetmetal has an equal in the Accent's remarkably well-finished interior. A matte-finished dash cap evokes the feel of carbon fiber, with big boomerang lines molded into it. The simpler center stack of controls isn't as shapely as the one in the Elantra, but avoids the slanted, fashion-victim look of the Ford Fiesta, and it leaves plenty of room for tall drivers' knees. Some passages of hard, shiny black plastic live on the low reaches of the doors and the center console, but it's remarkable how finely finished this entry-level car feels.