At the bottom of the bargain bin, a real find.
by Bob Storck
EL CAJON, Calif. - It's interesting to note how little $10,000 can purchase these days. It can provide a down payment on a house (and not a very big one at that), a down payment on a Mercedes-Benz (and not a very plush one at that) or a semester's tuition, room and board at a university (and not a very respected one at that).
Ten thousand dollars is basically chump change in the general scheme of things. Well, Hyundai has a deal for you that's not quite so chumpy: a quite well equipped 2000 Accent, for right around $10,000.
The Accent is new for 2000, longer and wider than the previous generation and more comfortable too. It's about the same size as the Chevrolet Metro, and is available as a notchback coupe and as a four-door sedan. The coupe styling hides a hatchback, which allows that extra convenience along with nice lines. The hatchback provides a good deal of versatility - it's a wonder that more Americans don't care for them.
The Accent has a decent level of standard equipment: it comes with a stereo cassette sound system, dual outside mirrors, rear window defroster, retractable dual cupholder, remote fuel filler release and variable intermittent windshield wiper/washer system, so it's no bare-bones set of wheels. With the GS and GL buyers get even more, including a digital quartz clock, tachometer, tinted glass, built-in driver's seat armrest and five-way adjustable driver's seat. The GS hatchback offers a split-folding 60-40 rear seat and rear window wiper/washer, and on the GL sedan there's a remote trunk release.
Air conditioning is a popular option. This year the air conditioning system has been refined and upgraded; the system is smaller, yet more efficient. However, anti-lock brakes are unavailable on any Accent model regardless of price.
The new Accent is fairly sporty to look at, with a combination of straight lines and edges that create a more upscale look. Distinctive character lines swoop inward toward the grille and large headlamps with wraparound turn signals are slanted rearward. The windshield is steeply raked and the pillars are slim to provide increased visibility. Restyled, delta-shaped rear lamps are positioned at the far corners to accentuate the width and have a distinctive European look.
Hyundai's revamped and refined 1.5-liter SOHC engine has been redesigned for smoother operation. The 12-valve, single overhead cam cylinder head now features maintenance-free hydraulic valve-lash adjusters. Further refinements include the addition of a Bosch Seven engine management system.
The smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission has revised gear ratios for better drivability, and GS or GL buyers can select an optional four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with a fuel-saving lock-up torque converter. The transmission's adaptive logic will delay upshifts and reduce "hunting" when going uphill.
The Accent is actually fun to drive. Steering is precise and fairly communicative. The short wheelbase contributes to a tossable feel. It does not have a great deal of understeer and no torque steer. The Hankook tires squealed and chirped a bit during spirited runs, but kept the car planted to the road. (Since it weighs about 2300 lb, it doesn't require a lot of tire).
Driving the Accent with its small, by American standards, engine is an indication of why Europeans order more manual transmission cars than automatics. With a manual gearbox the Accent is well capable of keeping up with traffic and merging on freeways.
Again, anti-lock brakes are not available. Panic stops showed the brakes to be adequate with little pedal fade. With practice the brake pedal can be modulated in panic situations to bring the car to fairly quick 'non-locked' stops.
The 2000 Accent's wheelbase has been extended by 1.6 inches to 96.1 inches and overall width is increased by nearly two inches. These changes result in additional headroom, hip room and legroom for the driver and passengers. Elsewhere, the interior layout is tidy and easy to use, with materials well in line with the price range of the car. There is plenty of space for tall Americans in the front, and adequate room in the rear if you don't have many NBA-signed friends. The Hyundai interior controls are straightforward, but sometimes in strange locations.
Accent drivers and passengers now have second-generation airbags. The new Accent is also equipped with seat belt pre-tensioners and load limiters that are designed to tighten the seat belt in the event of a collision. There are seat belts at all passenger locations, height-adjustable front shoulder belt anchors, child seat anchors and child safety rear door locks in the GL.
The driver's seat offers dual height adjustment. One knob controls the height of the forward of the seat and the second knob controls the height of the rear. The new Accent GS and GL driver's seat features a built-in, folding armrest and the rear seat offers a 60/40 split-folding feature.
Hyundai provides original buyers of new Accents with industry-leading limited powertrain coverage - 10 years or 100,000 miles and that coverage remains in effect when ownership of the car is transferred to other family members. Even if the car is sold, Hyundai backs Accent's powertrain for five years or 60,000 miles. Anti-perforation coverage is provided for five years or 100,000 miles. There is no deductible on any of these coverages.
The Accent is a decent entry-level car that provides a good bit of driving pleasure. If new is a priority when car shopping, and your budget doesn't allow you to look at a new Lincoln, Mercedes or Jaguar - or even a Honda - try the Accent.
Hugo Becker contributed to this article.
2000 HYUNDAI ACCENT
Base Price: $8999
Engine: 1.5-liter in-line four, 92 hp
Transmission: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 96.1 in
Length: 166.7 in
Width: 65.7 in
Height: 54.9 in
Weight: 2280-2350 lb
Fuel economy: 28 city / 36 hwy
Major standard equipment:
Rear window defroster
© 2000 The Car Connection