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Putin previews the 2012 Hyundai Accent

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  September 21, 2010 11:00 AM

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(AP Photo/Alexander Demianchuk)

As Hyundai opened its first factory in St. Petersburg today, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin test drove the Korean automaker's new Solaris sedan, a Russian-market version of the upcoming 2012 Accent expected to debut in the US next year.

Putin flashed a thumbs up for the cameras as he previewed the new car, which continues the curved exterior and interior design theme of the larger 2011 Sonata. Hyundai plans to build up to 150,000 Solaris models per year after investing more than $650 million in the plant, according to the Associated Press.

Hyundai has not confirmed pricing or other details about the 2012 Accent, but from spy photographs and the Verna — a Chinese-market version of the Solaris introduced at the Beijing Motor Show in April — it's clear much of the powertrain and style will carry over to the US.

The 1.6-liter four-cylinder has been tuned to produce 121 horsepower, an increase of 11 over the current Accent. A smaller 1.4-liter motor, unlikely to be sold in the US, will be offered in Russia with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. Hyundai estimates a manual 1.6-liter model to return 39 miles per gallon (and about 36 mpg with the automatic).

Russian-specific features include an uprated battery and larger windshield washer fluid tank, in addition to Hyundai's optional wiper de-icer and heated exterior mirrors.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
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