In 1998, Hyundai Motor America (HMA) sold 91,217 cars in the U.S. In 2010, it had a sales increase of 490%, selling 538,228 vehicles. And Mike O’Brien, vp of Corporate and Product Planning for HMA, anticipates that when the numbers from 2011 are tallied, HMA will have sold 600,000+ vehicles.
A contributor to this will be the fourth-generation Accent.
The Accent competes with the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, and the Chevy Aveo (and the forthcoming Chevrolet Sonic). While the Fiesta and the Yaris are subcompact cars (based on the EPA classification, which is predicated on interior volume), the Accent sedan, like the Aveo sedan and the Versa sedan, is in the compact category, as it has total interior volume of 103.4-ft3. The five-door version offers best-in-class cargo volume of 21.2 ft3, and it is behind the Versa five door (112.5 ft3) and the Honda Fit five-door (114.4 ft3) in its total interior volume, 111.3 ft3.
Under the hood is a 1.6-liter gasoline-direct injection engine with double overhead cams, 16 valves, and dual continuously variable valve timing (CVVT). The engine, designated Gamma, produces 138 hp @ 6,300 rpm and 123 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm. The previous generation Accent also features a 1.6-liter engine, but it wasn’t as powerful, producing 110 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 106 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm. And it has a cast iron block and aluminum head, unlike the new Gamma engine’s all-aluminum construction, so not only is it less powerful, but it weighs 40 lb. more. The fuel economy for Gamma—with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic—is 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway. This is far more fuel efficient than the outgoing (code-named Alpha) engine, which returns 28 mpg city/34 mpg highway with a five-speed manual or 27/36 mpg with a four-speed automatic.
By way of contrast, Brandon Ramirez, senior manager, Product Planning, HMA, points out that the competitive set offers (1) far less horsepower (the closest is the 1.6-liter Fiesta with 120 hp @ 6,350 rpm); (2) less fuel efficiency (the closest is the estimated 30/38 mpg for the 2012 Versa); (3) more gears in its manual transmissions (Fiesta, Mazda2, Aveo, Yaris, Fit, and Versa all offer five-speeds) and more gears in its automatic than all but the Fiesta (although the Versa’s automatic is a continuously variable transmission).
To achieve the 40 mpg and the 138 hp, engine features such things as:
- High-pressure direct injection system
- Offset crankshaft to reduce friction loss during piston motion
- Electronic throttle control to optimize engine torque and transmission control
- Variable induction system
- Dual CVVT to better optimize valve operation points
One of the things that Hyundai engineers have been focusing on since the release of the current-generation Sonata (MY 2011) is weight-to-power ratio. Basically, a light car with a powerful engine has a better ratio than a heavy car with a powerful engine. The curb weight for the Accent four door with a manual transmission is 2,396 lb.; the curb weight for the five-door is 2,430 lb. Which gives the former a weight-to-power ratio of 17.4 and 17.6, respectively. The next closest in the category is the Honda Fit, which weighs 2,439 lb. and has a 117-hp engine, which makes its ratio 21.3. To achieve this reduced curb weight, every element of the vehicle was looked at, which led to things including a plastic intake manifold, monotube (instead of dual) shock absorbers, and a body construction deploying 38% high-tensile and 21% ultra-high tensile steels. (The body rigidity, incidentally, is 15.6 10^kgf/rad, which is 22% better than the outgoing model.)
Like the current Elantra and Sonata models, the Accent deploys the Hyundai Fluidic Sculpture design language. It features the hexagonal grille design, wrap-around headlamps and taillamps, sculpted hood creases, deep side character line, rising wedge shape from front to rear, truncated decklid with a kickup on the trailing edge. Which contributes (as does a flat engine undercover) to a coefficient of drag of 0.30, which is bested by the 0.29 cD of the Yaris.—GSV