2012 Hyundai Accent SE: Smooth operator

2012 Hyundai Accent SE

2012 Hyundai Accent SE; Hyundai photo

Not more than a mile or two into our first drive in the 2012 Hyundai Accent, my co-driver and I looked at each other and said, almost in the same breath, “This car is smooth. ” Perhaps that’s not so remarkable, commenting favorably on a car’s smooth ride and power delivery, but it is when it’s about a subcompact. And certainly one from Hyundai.

On the other hand, perhaps we should be accustomed to expecting the unaccustomed from Hyundai. Once the brand of yes-but-look-at-the-price, Hyundai has had more hits lately than the Beatles did in 1964. If you weren’t there, trust us, it’s. If John Lennon had recorded “Good morning” it would have gone straight to the top of the charts. Come to think of it, there was a cut on the Sergeant Pepper with that title.

But  we digress.

We’re in Las Vegas for an introduction to the 2012 Hyundai Accent and as we said, we’re mightily impressed. Heading out of town, the ride is velvety. That’s an overused auto review adjective but we can’t help but use it. The five-door Hyundai Accent SE smoothes not only the bumps but even the pebbles, it’s ride cushier than many larger and more expensive models. It’s time to roust up some metaphors and similes. We’re going to need them for this car.

The 2012 Hyundai Accent is in fact available in two body styles, a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. The Accent SE is the top of the line for the five-door configuration, with the GS as the standard trim five-door. The four-door sedan comes in GLS trim only. There’s no 2012 Accent GT, but it was broadly hinted that a sporty three-door Accent would return for 2013.

The four-door GLS with the standard six-speed manual transmission is the cheapest way into a Hyundai Accent at $12,445 (plus $760 destination fee).  Adding an automatic transmission (six-speed with “Shiftronic” manual shifting) raises the price by $2,750, but that big difference adds a lot of features, including air conditioning and a radio, both of which are optional on the GLS with the stick. We predict that very few will be sold sans sounds and air, and good luck at finding one of those strippers on a dealer’s lot.

The 2012 Hyundai Accent GS, offered with both manual and automatic ($14,595 and $15,795 respectively), isn’t so bare as the base GLS, coming standard with such everyday features as power windows and audio system, the latter quite extensive with AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 with 172 watts and six speakers. On the other hand, Bluetooth with voice recognition is optional with the Accent GLS but not available in the GS.

The 2012 Hyundai Accent SE is well short of sporty but is well equipped for its price class, at $15,795 and $16,795 respectively, with cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and 16-inch alloy wheels mounted with low rolling resistant silica tires, the latter also standard on the steel 14-inch wheels. The 16-inch alloy rims are optional on the four-door GLS but again not available on the hatchback Accent GS.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.