2012 Hyundai Accent GLS vs. 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL Comparison Test

2012 Hyundai Accent Sedan

(1.6L 4-cyl. 6-speed Manual)
  • 2012 Hyundai Accent GLS vs. 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL Comparison Test Video

    The new 2012 Nissan Versa and 2012 Hyundai Accent sedans don't just compete against other new cars. With one (stripped to the marrow) Versa model going for $10,990 and the cheapest Accent starting at just $15,195, these two face off with used cars, motorcycles, scooters, subsidized subway systems and deeply discounted bus passes. | October 24, 2011

1 Video , 34 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • 2012 Hyundai Accent Specs and Performance
  • 2012 Nissan Versa Specs and Performance

The new 2012 Nissan Versa and 2012 Hyundai Accent sedans don't just compete against other new cars.

With one (stripped to the marrow) Versa model going for $10,990 and the cheapest Accent starting at just $15,195, these two face off with used cars, motorcycles, scooters, recumbent bicycles, luxurious skateboards, high-end hiking boots, orthopedically correct flip-flops, subsidized subway systems and deeply discounted bus passes. They are subcompact sedans to which no one aspires except when all the viable alternatives aren't other new cars. And they're not alone.

The entry-level new car class is thick with strong players. The Versa and Accent also face off with Ford's sophisticated Fiesta, the Fiesta's slick cousin the Mazda 2 and Honda's nimble Fit, while Kia's revamped Rio (brother to the Accent) is imminent and Chevrolet will soon replace the crummy Aveo with the promising new Sonic.

This is a two-car face-off, but in two months it could be a knockdown, drag-out battle royale among six strong featherweight fighters.

So let's get to today's qualifying round. Let's take "practicality" for $200, Alex.

Accent-uate the Versa-tile
The stripped-down versions may be super cheap, but our test vehicles came in well equipped, had automatic transmissions and were pimped out in their makers' best trim. So the as-tested price of the Hyundai Accent GLS sedan — including a $1,300 Premium package, some floor mats and an iPod cable — came in at $17,385. And the Versa 1.6 SL with the Tech package was barely behind at $17,190.

The Versa and Accent are small cars by current standards, but not so tiny in historic terms. For instance, the 2012 Versa four-door is 175.4 inches long overall and rides on a 102.4-inch wheelbase. That dwarfs the Sentra sedan that Nissan introduced for 1991 that stretched out just 170.3 inches long over a 95.7-inch wheelbase. When it was introduced as a replacement for the Excel, the original 1995 Accent sedan was 162.1 inches long and rode on a 94.5-inch wheelbase. The new Accent is 172 inches long atop a 101.2-inch wheelbase. These are (relatively) inexpensive cars, but they're nowhere near being micro- or mini-cars.

That size pays off with interior room. Neither the Versa nor the Accent feel at all cramped; four will fit comfortably into either car and five can cram aboard in a zombie emergency. And both have usable, roomy trunks. These cars can handle what 99 percent of the population does with cars 99 percent of the time.

Many of the Versa's and Accent's interior dimensions are right atop one another. They both, for example, claim 41.8 inches of front legroom. The Accent has the Versa covered in shoulder and hiproom and it betters the Nissan by about 2 inches overall. Meanwhile the Versa has the clear advantage in rear-seat legroom, offering up 37 inches of stretch-out compared to the Hyundai's 33.3 inches. If you're wide, go Accent. If you've got long-legged kids, pony up for a Versa. And the Versa's 14.8-cubic-foot trunk is slightly larger than the 13.7 available in the Accent.

Simple Mechanics
Both the Versa and Accent are unibody front drivers with MacPherson struts holding up their noses and torsion axles in back. Both have electrically assisted power rack-and-pinion steering; both have standard ABS and brakeforce distribution; both have the mandated stability control. Chassiswise, about the biggest difference between the two is that the Nissan runs rear drum brakes while Hyundai equips the Accent with solid discs. In other words, their hardware is about as ordinary as ordinary gets.

But all that direct comparability ends in the engine bay. Both cars are equipped with all-aluminum, slightly oversquare 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engines with continuous variable valve timing, but the Accent engine's also has direct fuel injection. The additional technology brings the Accent's output to 138 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 123 pound-feet of peak torque at 4,850 rpm compared to the Versa's 109 hp at 6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of peak torque at 4,400 rpm.

Beyond that, the Accent has a sweet-shifting six-speed automatic transaxle backing up all its power, while the Nissan's more modest output has to struggle against a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The gear ratio range of the two transmissions is similar but the Hyundai six-speed reacts athletically and positively, while the Nissan CVT is less eager to transmit its driver's inputs to forward motion.

Racing the Non-Racers
Combine the Hyundai's additional power with the clearly superior transmission and it humiliates the Nissan in every performance category. With the traction control turned off, the 2,563-pound Accent runs from 0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds — or 9.5 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like at a drag strip. And it plugs through the quarter-mile in 17.1 seconds at 81.2 mph.

Nissan's 2,461-pound Versa, meanwhile, needs 10.4 seconds to reach 60 mph from a dead stop with the traction control turned off — 10.1 seconds with a 1-foot rollout. And it requires a languid 17.6 seconds to run the quarter-mile at 79.0 mph. If speed matters, then the Hyundai is the only choice.

And if the EPA is to be believed, the Hyundai enjoys a fuel economy advantage, too. The Accent's 30 city and 40 highway mpg EPA numbers edge out the Versa's 30 city and 38 highway mpg ratings. Our testing revealed a near dead heat, with the Versa yielding 28.1 mpg to the Accent's 28 mpg in combined driving.

When it comes time to throw out the anchor, the Hyundai is again better. The Accent required 123 feet to stop from 60 mph, while the Versa needed 128. Though the Accent's tires squeal under hard braking and the ABS makes a racket, the car tracks straight. The Versa's brake pedal has a nice firm feel, but the car wiggles its tail when braking hard and needs some countersteer to stay on course. It's not dangerous, but it's also not confidence-inspiring.

Driving the Point
Riding on P195/50R16 Kumho Solus KH25 all-season tires, the Accent is hardly equipped to set low lap times. But it managed a respectable 64.6 mph through our 600-foot slalom and pulled a decent 0.78g on the skid pad with the stability control off. The Versa, on the tiptoes of its P185/65R15 Continental rubber, managed 62.4 mph in the slalom and a 0.75g skid pad orbit. But the numbers only hint at the whole story.

"Holy sloppy handling," reported test-driver Mike Monticello, coming off the slalom course in the Versa. "Major body roll and tires that prefer to slide rather than grip make it a handful to swing the Versa around the cones. The steering isn't really all that loose, but the Versa just flops around on its soft suspension."

In contrast, the Accent was a joy. "So much more planted through the slalom than the Versa," Monticello reported. "The suspension has enough antiroll characteristics and the tires are grippy enough that you can really throw it around. Understeer is the limiting factor in achieving a quicker time and the Accent doesn't have much in the way of punch at the slalom exit," he said. But no car in this class does.

What's apparent on the track is even more obvious on the street. The Accent is one of the most confident-handling and best-riding subcompacts ever built. It's not a tied-down sportster, but there is a truly sweet feel to its steering, the body roll is well controlled and the transmission seems to get the most out of the engine in daily driving. And it rides well, too.

The Versa always feels as if it's on its tiptoes: nervous entering a corner, doubling over as it goes through it and squealing relief on its exit. The steering has some good, communicative feel, but most of what it's reporting back is a desperate struggle for traction. Then there's the CVT, which isn't bad by CVT standards, but is a droning nuisance compared to the Accent's outstanding six-speed.

The new Versa drives better than the old Versa — a car with such lousy directional stability that a baby fart would blow it over a couple of lanes — but it's a dynamic also-ran compared to the Accent.

Decorum
So the Accent is quicker and drives better. But beyond that, it looks and feels better, too. The new Versa looks much better than the old one, but it's still an awkwardly shaped machine that screams "cheap" like a store in Jersey City that sells $49 suits.

The Accent, on the other hand, looks like a scaled-down Elantra that, in turn looks like a scaled-down Sonata. It's amazing how well similar styling works on the three Hyundai sedans. It's like putting the same dress on Adriana Lima, Snookie and Kathy Bates and having them all look fantastic in it. The Accent is well detailed and substantial in a way the Versa can't come close to matching.

And the contrast grows even more substantial inside the two cars. The Versa's interior is finished in contemporary style but the surfaces are monochromatic and chintzy. Its dashboard is simply designed and perfectly legible, but stark. The steering wheel is nicely designed with neat, circular redundant audio and cruise control switches, but the rim itself is hard, cold and cheap to the touch.

The Accent's interior falls well short of luxurious, but at least there's some visual interest in various areas. The Premium package with which this test car was equipped brought with it several gloss black surfaces that contrasted well against the brushed silver, matte black and vanilla-colored surfaces that make up most of the interior panels. The instrumentation is straightforward and brilliantly illuminated.

The Accent's seats are too flat and unsupportive, and Hyundai has crammed too many indistinct buttons onto the steering wheel. Even so, on interior decoration alone, the Accent feels $5 grand more expensive than the Versa.

A Clear Win
We'd love to give you a list of the Versa's strengths relative to the Accent, but the simple fact is that there aren't many. Sure, there's a small advantage to be had in certain interior measurements and it's $195 less expensive, but those benefits aren't enough to outweigh the Accent's overwhelming domination of nearly every criteria worth considering — both objective and subjective.

This one is a walkover for the Hyundai Accent; it's better than the Versa in virtually every way. The Accent is an entry-level car that doesn't feel like one, look like one or drive like one. And that's true whether it's your first new car or your last.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Vehicle
Model year2012
MakeHyundai
ModelAccent
StyleGLS 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
Year Make Model2012 Hyundai Accent GLS 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
Vehicle TypeFWD 4dr 5-passenger Sedan
Base MSRP$15,195
Options on test vehiclePremium Package ($1,300); Floor Mats ($95); iPod Cable ($35)
As-tested MSRP$17,385
Assembly locationUlsan, Korea
North American parts content (%)1
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine typeDirect-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,591/97
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)11.0
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,750
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)138 @ 6,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)123 @ 4,850
Fuel typeRegular unleaded
Transmission typeSix-speed automatic
Transmission ratios (x:1)4.400, 2.726. 1.834, 1.392, 1.000, 0.774
Chassis
Suspension, frontMacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearTorsion beam with coil springs, monotube dampers
Steering typeElectrically assisted rack-and-pinion
Steering ratio (x:1)14.9
Tire make and modelKumho Solus KH25
Tire typeAll-season radial
Tire sizeP195/50R16
Wheel size16-by-6 inches
Wheel materialAluminum alloy
Brakes, front10.1-inch ventilated rotors, single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear10.3-inch solid rotors, single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.4
0-45 mph (sec.)6.1
0-60 mph (sec.)9.8
0-75 mph (sec.)14.6
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)17.1 @ 81.2
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)9.5
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.7
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.4
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)10.2
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)15.2
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)17.3 @ 80.6
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)9.8
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)32
60-0 mph (ft.)123
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)64.6
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON63.9
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.78
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.78
Sound level @ idle (dB)42.3
@ Full throttle (dB)75.3
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)65.7
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,250
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsExtremely lazy off the line, dosen't feel like 138 hp. If you power brake the snot out of it you can get just a smidgen of wheelspin for like a nanosecond. Agonizingly slow upshifts, but super-smooth. Upshifts at 6,250 rpm every time, whether in Drive or Manual mode. Manual shifting via console lever (pull back for downshifts). Does not hold gears to redline. Does not blip throttle on downshifts.
Braking commentsFirm pedal and a nice, short travel. Plenty of tire squeal and ABS commotion, but the Accent tracks straight and true. Not bad for a little %#@* box.
Handling commentsSkid pad: ESC was very controlled at cutting throttle, actually better at keeping the car balanced than the test driver because the abrupt throttle is hard to modulate. Steering has decent weighting. Drop-throttle had some effect, but basically the front tires get punished.
Testing Conditions
Test date8/9/2011
Test locationAuto Club Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)68.3
Relative humidity (%)28.8
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)68.8
Wind (mph, direction)2.3, headwind
Odometer (mi.)2,128
Fuel used for test87 octane
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)32
As-tested ballasted trailer weight (lbs.)32
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)30 city/40 highway/33 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)28
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)11.4
Driving range (mi.)456
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionAM/FM/XM radio with CD/MP3 player, 172 watts, six speakers
iPod/digital media compatibilityYes, standard aux input and USB
Satellite radioAvailable
Bluetooth phone connectivityYes
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)2,463
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)2,563
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)62.2/37.8
Length (in.)172.0
Width (in.)66.9
Height (in.)57.1
Wheelbase (in.)101.2
Track, front (in.)59.3
Track, rear (in.)59.5
Turning circle (ft.)34.1
Legroom, front (in.)41.8
Legroom, rear (in.)33.3
Headroom, front (in.)39.9
Headroom, rear (in.)37.2
Shoulder room, front (in.)53.7
Shoulder room, rear (in.)53.4
Seating capacity5
Trunk volume (cu-ft)13.7
GVWR (lbs.)3,527
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain10 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion7 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance5 years/Unlimited miles
Vehicle
Model year2012
MakeNissan
ModelVersa
Style1.6 SL 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT)
Year Make Model2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT)
Vehicle TypeFWD 4dr 5-passenger Sedan
Base MSRP$15,560
Options on test vehicleTech Package ($700); Floor and Trunk Mats ($170)
As-tested MSRP$17,190
Assembly locationAguas, Mexico
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine typeInline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,598/98
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft, variable intake + exhaust valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)9.8
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)109 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)107 @ 4,400
Fuel typeRegular unleaded
Transmission typeContinuously variable
Transmission ratios (x:1)4.006 to 0.550
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.882
Chassis
Suspension, frontMacPherson strut, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearTorsion beam, coil springs
Steering typeElectrically assisted power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.8
Tire make and modelContinental Conti ProContact
Tire typeAll-season front and rear
Tire sizeP185/65R15
Wheel size15-by-5.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialAlloy
Brakes, front10-inch ventilated rotors, single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear8-inch drums
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.8
0-45 mph (sec.)6.6
0-60 mph (sec.)10.4
0-75 mph (sec.)15.8
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)17.6 @ 79.0
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)10.1
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.9
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.8
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)10.7
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)16.2
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)17.8 @ 78.6
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)10.4
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31
60-0 mph (ft.)128
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)62.4
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON61.7
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.75
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.75
Sound level @ idle (dB)43.1
@ Full throttle (dB)76.5
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)68.9
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,500
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsIt gets off the line with at least some sense of urgency. But gets hung up at 4,750 rpm before the CVT slowly rubberbands its way up to 6,000 rpm, where it holds station through the quarter-mile. Power braking and moving the console shifter to "L" produced the quickest (if that's appropriate here) run. No manual shifting ability.
Braking commentsImpressively firm pedal feel, but the Versa wiggles side to side vigorously as its slippery tires try to find traction. There's some occasional tire lockup, causing me to have to countersteer to keep it straight. Not very confidence-inspiring.
Handling commentsSkid pad: The CVT makes it difficult to have the correct engine speed here, so I just slapped it in "L.." Massive body roll sometimes causes the inside front tire to spin up a bit, during clockwise running. But there are two main points here: low-grip tires and massive understeer. Slalom: Holy sloppy handling! Major amounts of body roll and tires that prefer to slide rather than grip make it a handful to swing the Versa around the cones. The steering isn't really all that loose, but the Versa just flops around on its soft suspension. ESC system was surprisingly unintrusive when switched on.
Testing Conditions
Test date9-Aug
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)71.3
Relative humidity (%)62.3
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.8
Wind (mph, direction)4.1, headwind
Odometer (mi.)2,888
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)33/33
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)30 city/38 highway/33 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)28.1 combined
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)10.8
Driving range (mi.)410.4
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionAM/FM/XM radio with CD/MP3 player with four speakers. Optional audio controls on steering wheel
iPod/digital media compatibilityOptional USB
Satellite radioOptional
Bluetooth phone connectivityOptional
Navigation system5-inch color touchscreen
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)2,459
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)2,461
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)59/41
Length (in.)175.4
Width (in.)66.7
Height (in.)59.6
Wheelbase (in.)102.4
Track, front (in.)58.3
Track, rear (in.)58.5
Turning circle (ft.)34.8
Legroom, front (in.)41.8
Legroom, rear (in.)37
Headroom, front (in.)39.8
Headroom, rear (in.)36.6
Shoulder room, front (in.)51.7
Shoulder room, rear (in.)51.9
Seating capacity5
Trunk volume (cu-ft)14.8
GVWR (lbs.)3,389
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance3 years/36,000 miles
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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Hyundai Accent in VA is:

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