This may not be the most high-profile debut in Chicago, but it could well be one of the most significant. As gas prices inexorably rise in the U.S., we're facing an onslaught of new, small cars in the North American market. Hyundai has been quietly plugging away in this segment for a while, and now it's using its experience in the market to redefine its Accent to compete with the newcomers.

Now in its third generation, the Accent lineup gains two new three-door models for 2007 to accompany the four-door version which debuted in December. As Hyundai prepares for competing small car entries from Toyota, Honda and Nissan, it's made a number of changes to the Accent, not the least of which is a new, larger 1.6-liter powerplant, with a class-leading 110 hp.

The Accent is a direct competitor of the Chevy Aveo, Honda Fit, Scion xA and Toyota Yaris in the North American market. John sent us the official press release and a ton of pics. Check them out after the jump.

Press Release:  2007 HYUNDAI ACCENT GS AND SE MAKE AUTO SHOW DEBUT

Two New Three-Door Models Join the Third-Generation Accent Lineup

CHICAGO, February 8, 2006 – Hyundai Motor America unveiled the 2007 Accent lineup at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show today, adding the all-new three-door GS and SE models to the recently released four-door GLS sedan. Hyundai’s third-generation Accent model lineup is now complete and provides a strong statement about the company’s commitment to the market for fuel-efficient small cars. Hyundai has sold more than 570,000 Accents since its introduction in 1994, outselling all of its competitors between 2000 and 2005. 
The new Accent lineup is poised for continued success with unsurpassed standard safety equipment, interior volume and power – plus 35 custom accessories that allow owners to express their individual style.1 The all-new Accent GLS four-door hit showrooms in December 2005, with the new 2007 three-door GS and SE models scheduled for arrival this spring. 

ACCENT REDEFINES THE ENTRY-CAR SEGMENT
“Our all-new Accent lineup is going to continue to set the pace in the entry segment,” said Owen Koh, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “We welcome the return of Toyota, Nissan and Honda to this segment, and trust that consumers will see the value and quality advantage that our continuous dedication to this segment provides.”
The new Accents overcome consumers’ preconceived notions of compromises among performance, comfort and safety attributes in an economy car. All Accents come standard with six airbags, including side air curtains protecting both front and rear seat outboard passengers. The class-leading 110-horsepower 1.6-liter DOHC in-line four-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT), sport-tuned suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/45R16 tires (SE model) enhance the car’s fun-to-drive character. Accent GS and SE have the most interior volume in the three-door segment at 108.1 cu. ft. and more standard features than Chevrolet Aveo and Kia Rio.

SLEEK AND CONFIDENT DESIGN
Externally, Accent GS and SE reflect Hyundai’s sleek, confident design direction, borrowing from the aerodynamic, clean look of the E3 concept car unveiled at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show. Up front, the vehicle features a bold bodycolor grille and aerodynamic halogen headlights. The Accent SE’s bodycolored exterior mirrors and door handles complement the sporty styling. Sleek character lines continue to the rear of the vehicle. Accent SE’s high-performance V-rated P205/45R16 tires and lightweight five-spoke aluminum wheels provide terrific handling and a big dose of street credibility. A long wheelbase and higher seating positions increase the spacious feeling of the interior. A rear spoiler and wiper are standard on the Accent SE. The Accent three-door is the only model in its class to offer 16-inch alloy wheels from the factory.   

CLASS-LEADING ENGINE
Starting with the 2006 models, all Accents have newfound power under their hoods with a 1.6-liter DOHC in-line four-cylinder engine that features four valves per cylinder with CVVT. The DOHC and CVVT combination helps to give the engine a very broad powerband, coupled with high fuel efficiency and low emissions.
With the better-breathing CVVT, performance has improved. Horsepower now peaks at 110 at 6000 rpm (an almost six percent increase), and torque is 106 lb.-ft. at 4500 rpm. These numbers put the Accent at the top of its class in terms of horsepower.

Besides added performance, CVVT also helps the engine operate more cleanly, and for 2007, the Accent is expected to be certified as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV). The latest evolution of the Alpha engine family, the Accent’s powerplant is a tough and technologically advanced unit that features a rigid cast-iron block and lightweight aluminum cylinder head. Engineered for the long haul, the Alpha is backed by a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

TWO TRANSMISSION CHOICES
For peak performance, all Accents come standard with a five-speed manual transmission that has lower gearing for quicker acceleration and a sportier personality. A new shift pattern that relocates reverse ensures smooth operation. Also available is an optional four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive lock-up torque converter to maximize fuel economy at highway speeds. The automatic transmission has new levels of hydraulic control for quick, precise shifts. 

REMARKABLE DRIVING DYNAMICS
Accent’s body bending stiffness is up 39 percent from the last generation model.  This stiff architecture enables Accent to deliver a comfortable ride and responsive handling thanks to a front MacPherson strut suspension with coil springs and gas shock absorbers and a coupled torsion beam rear suspension with coil springs and gas shock absorbers. A 21.0-mm. diameter front stabilizer bar helps reduce body roll when cornering and tunes the Accent’s at-the-limit handling for maximum predictability. Rack-and-pinion steering with engine-RPM sensing assist makes for low-effort maneuvering around town, combined with a secure feel at high speed. 
Accent was tuned to satisfy unique consumer needs. The GLS four-door was tuned for comfort, but still feels agile. The GS three-door has a unique steering rack with increased sporty feel. The SE trim delivers even more road-holding capability with a sport-tuned suspension featuring 24 percent stiffer front spring rate and 11 percent stiffer rear spring rate, larger stabilizer bar (24 mm.), unique strut valving, high performance steering gear and larger wheels and tires. Accent SE delivers a 70 percent increase in roll control over the GLS, even exceeding the roll stiffness of the Hyundai Tiburon SE. To complete the performance package, Accent SE has powerful four-wheel disc brakes with a four-sensor, four-channel Antilock Brake System (ABS). Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) is integrated into the ABS, automatically adjusting braking force front to rear based on vehicle loading conditions.  

CLASS-ABOVE INTERIOR VOLUME
The Accent three-door’s larger silhouette pays comfort dividends inside, with the most interior volume (passenger and cargo) in its class. In fact, the Accent three-door is classified as a “compact car” – not a subcompact, which is the classification given by the U.S. government to competitors including the Toyota Yaris and Scion xA. In fact, at 108.1 cubic feet, the Accent bests the new Honda Civic coupe in total interior volume by a whopping 12.9 cubic feet, providing an unexpectedly spacious feel. 
 
The driver’s seating position has been raised two inches compared to the prior generation Accent, for better comfort and the higher eyepoint that most drivers prefer. The 2007 Accent GS and SE feature class-leading cargo volume of 15.9 cubic feet. The Accent three-door even has 11.6 percent more interior volume than the Toyota Yaris and 4.1 percent more than the Toyota Corolla.
    For audiophiles, the available 172-watt AM/FM/CD audio system includes built-in equalizer, large-format head unit with easy-to-use controls and a total of six speakers positioned throughout the interior; one in each front door, a pair in the rear and two high-mounted tweeters to help add audio clarity and detail. A more powerful AM/FM/6-CD changer premium audio system is available on SE and delivers 220 watts.

UNSURPASSED SAFETY FEATURES 
The new Accent lineup perfectly illustrates Hyundai’s devotion to passenger safety. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that vehicles equipped with the combination of seat-mounted side air bags and head-protecting side air curtains experience a 45 percent reduction in fatalities in side impact collisions. 
That significant life-saving potential is the reason why every Hyundai Accent has a total of six airbags working in concert with high-tech passenger restraint systems to provide a comprehensive line of defense in frontal and side collisions. There are two advanced frontal airbags, plus two front seat-mounted side-impact airbags. Two roof-mounted side-curtain airbags help protect the front and outboard rear passengers in side impacts. The Accent’s complete suite of airbags is standard—a significant life-saving advantage over competitors like Chevrolet Aveo, Scion xA and Toyota Yaris. Front seat-mounted side-impact airbags are extra cost options on the xA and Yaris, and side-curtain airbags are not available on Aveo, and are optional on xA and Yaris.

In low-speed impacts, the Accent’s five-mph front and rear bumpers help minimize damage. In higher-energy collisions, its steel unibody structure is engineered to dissipate crash energy as its crumple zones deform, while bodyside reinforcements help maintain the integrity of the passenger compartment. Hood buckling creases and safety stops help control the deformation of the hood in a frontal collision.
There’s an energy absorbing steering column, and all five seating positions feature three-point seatbelts and adjustable headrests. The rear head restraints are shingle-style for improved visibility. The front seatbelts have pretensioners and load limiters. A Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system in the rear seat area provides a safe and secure place for kids.

PERSONALIZATION
Vehicle personalization is a growing trend, increasingly important to new car buyers. Hyundai plans to offer more than 35 Accent accessories at launch, as dealer- or port-installed add-ons, enabling buyers to make their Accent unique. The accessories will include a ground effects kit, cold air intake system, metallic shift knobs, aluminum pedals and doorsills, iPOD holder, LED interior light kit and many others. Factory-installed personalization options include a 220-watt, AM/FM/6-CD changer premium audio system with six speakers and Accent’s first power sunroof.
     “There is a renewed interest in tuning and accessorizing compact cars, and Accent defies the laws of economy in this very competitive segment,” said John Krafcik, vice president, Product Development and Strategic Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “The Accent GS and SE are fun-to-drive, affordable sport compacts right out of the box – with more personalization accessories available than the Scion xA.”

QUALITY AND VALUE
Taken in total, the Accent’s many strengths make it the clear value leader in its segment. Unsurpassed safety technologies give it an important edge, and the Accent delivers more standard features than Aveo or Rio. It’s got a lower base price than Yaris and more interior passenger volume, making it remarkably comfortable, and it has the most powerful engine in the class. The Accent GS will be priced at $10,9152 carrying on the Hyundai tradition of exceptional value. Add in the advantage of America’s Best Warranty™, including five years and 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and choosing Accent becomes even simpler. 

ACCENT GS – THE PERFECT ENTRY-LEVEL CAR
In keeping with Hyundai’s high-value approach to standard equipment, the Accent GS not only looks good, it also has a remarkable array of desirable features. Large, legible analog instrumentation keeps the driver informed, while a tilt steering wheel and an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with fold-down armrest, reclining rear seat and power steering insure long-haul comfort. Convenient storage areas are placed throughout the interior, including the front center console, driver storage tray, door storage pockets in the front doors and a rear storage tray. Two cupholders are ideally situated between the driver and passenger for easy reach. A 60/40-split fold-down rear seatback makes it easy to load large objects, or to mix cargo and passengers for maximum effectiveness. The rear roof-mounted micro antenna is aerodynamic, flexible and improves signal strength.
Standard features are comprehensive and not typically found in this segment, including two-speed variable intermittent wipers, rear spoiler, cabin air filtration, rear window defroster, tachometer, digital clock, two 12-volt outlets and remote hood and fuel filler door releases.

ACCENT SE – TIBURON APPEAL AND PERFORMANCE, ACCENT PRICING
The sport-oriented Accent SE takes value in an exciting new direction. SE features air conditioning, power windows with front-illuminated switches, driver’s window auto-down feature, illuminated vanity mirrors, windshield shade band, power door locks, remote keyless entry with alarm and panic alert and heated power-adjustable exterior mirrors. On the outside, the 16-inch alloy wheels and P205/45VR16 tires deliver road-holding capability, and fog lights keep the driver’s path illuminated in adverse weather. The SE trim is equipped with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, metallic interior accents and sporty cloth seats. Additional storage is available with the seatback pockets. To complete the driving experience, the Accent SE features a sport-tuned suspension with unique springs, strut valving, roll bar and steering gear – delivering in total a 70 percent increase in roll stiffness over the GLS. A power sunroof and a 220-watt premium audio system with AM/FM/cassette/six-disc in-dash CD changer with equalizer and amplifier are optional.
 
ACCENT GLS – THE COMPLETE PACKAGE
    The well-equipped 2007 Accent four-door comes in a single GLS trim level with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. GLS trim includes a wide range of features, including several items that are either optional or unavailable on competitive vehicles in the segment, including a powerful 1.6-liter CVVT engine, 172-watt six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with equalizer, air conditioning, power steering, tilt steering wheel and driver and passenger illuminated vanity mirrors.  There are a total of six airbags, including dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags. Carpeted floor mats are optional. The Premium Package includes ABS, power windows with illuminated switches, driver’s window auto-down feature, power door locks, remote keyless entry with alarm and panic alert and heated power-adjustable exterior mirrors. The Premium Sport Package adds all the equipment in the premium package plus 15-inch alloy wheels with 195/55VR15 tires.

WARRANTY
The all-new Hyundai Accent lineup is protected by the Hyundai Advantage, America’s Best Warranty™. Coverage includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage. In addition, Accent buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance coverage at no extra charge for five years (no mileage limit) and that service includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses. There is no deductible on any of these coverages.

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