The Accent accelerates, steers, and handles in an adequate, predictable way, although its performance is no standout.
The 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine makes a best-in-class 138 horsepower and a respectable 123 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration is about average, with zero-to-60 times no faster than about ten seconds.
You'll need to rev the engine above 3,500 in order to extract the most pep out of it, although it's quite fuel-stingy if you can keep those revs as low as possible. It mates well with either the manual gearbox, which has a light clutch, or the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic that includes a Sport mode and manual control.Although the chassis feels fine with a full load, the powertrain does feel considerably less perky with more than two people aboard--underscoring that the Accent is a small, relatively lightweight small car.
We like the somewhat meatier feel of the electric power steering in SE versions, though throughout the lineup the steering tuning feels like it's trying to emulate the strong-centered feel of a large sedan; it's fine, but it also doesn't make the Accent feel as lively as it could be.
The Accent feels more graceful, if not edgy, when the road turns curvy. The design includes twin-tube shocks and a stabilizer bar for the front struts, while the rear suspension sticks with the classic torsion-beam setup. Ride quality, as with any short-wheelbase vehicle, can be jarring over potholes and bouncy on frost-heaved highways.