The new Hyundai Accent is more proof that the Korean automaker knows how to benchmark. When the Fit arrived in the U.S. it was a revelation: a cheap car that doesn't feel cheap. Now Hyundai's doing the exact same thing, only better.

We haven't driven the Accent yet, so all of this is coming off the stats sheet, but the stats are pretty good. With the 138-hp direct-injection 1.6-liter Gamma engine it's got 21 horsepower on the Fit, 18 horsepower on the Fiesta, and a whopping 38 horses on the Mazda2.

At the same time, the Accent gets 40 mpg on the highway when paired to either the 6-speed manual or automatic transmission (another advantage), which is better than any other car in the class. Did we mention the hatch only weights 2,430 pounds?

And it looks good, too, especially when compared to the outgoing humdrum Accent. The sedan doesn't look like a complete embarrassment and the five-door hatch competes with the similar Fiesta. It's a little safe, but it's still a Hyundai and starts at a low-low $12,445 for the manual-equipped sedan and barely crosses over $16,000 fully loaded.

"Looks great on paper" doesn't always translate to "does better on road," but it's a good start.

Photo Credit: Tony Yang