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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Anita And Paul Lienert
The Detroit News
March 25, 1998
The good thing about driving one of the smallest cars of 1998 - the Hyundai Accent two-door hatchback - is that it comes with a shrunken sticker price that's sure to appeal to folks just seeking basic transportation. Who's going to argue with
the Accent's base price of $9,899 - or our GS test vehicle, which only cost $11,008 - once you've added a couple amenities such as air conditioning and floor mats. Well, leave it to us to come up with a few compelling arguments, one for embracing
the little Korean bargain and one for ignoring it. She: I'm giving the Accent four stars, which is our highest rating, but I'm also going to tell buyers that I have some serious reservations about owning this smallest and cheapest Hyundai. It's
thrilling to have a new car that doesn't feel like a stripped-down junker for only $10,000. But it's also scary to drive it next to Ford Expeditions and Dodge Ram pickup trucks. And I would be a wreck putting one of our teen-agers in it. He: I
could make the same pitch against a Porsche Boxster. When you're driving alongside one of those big sport-utes, you're not going to feel safe in anything, unless it's another big sport-ute. I also think the Accent is a terrific value. You get an awful lot
of car for $11,000. The Accent GS comes with a thrifty overhead-cam 1.5-liter four-cylinder that returns up to 36 mpg in highway driving. It's not the fastest small car on the road. But it's pretty nimble and surprisingly spunky. She: You're being
very clinical here. I think the Accent has the potential for great emotional appeal. In fact, the exterior styling reminds me a little of the new Volkswagen Beetle. It's got a hood with slightly plump lines and a sprightly look overall. Inside, the
rooflines are curvy and give the impression of more room than you'd expect in a vehicle that's so tiny. It's cute and huggable. He: You want my seat-of-the-pants impression? The Accent is lots of fun to drive, with its all-independent suspension
and stabilizer bars, although the relatively short 94.5-inch wheelbase makes for a pretty harsh and choppy ride on rough pavement. Still, it's surprisingly comfortable, even for an old guy like me. I can see it having great appeal to teens and first-time
buyers. And I wouldn't have any problem recommending it to a friend. She: I could see why you'd do that. The little hatchback is less than half the price of the average car today. And you do get some delightful little features that you'd expect on
a more expensive vehicle. A rear window defroster and wiper, for example, and an AM/FM stereo with a cassette. More importantly, the Accent feels like Japanese quality, not Korean quality. He: There are still some things that annoy me. The paint
job is pretty rough, even for an $11,000 car, and some of the trim looks cheap and tacky. But overall, Hyundai continues to improve dramatically the quality of its cars. She: There are still some things tha
t impress me. Particularly the quality of the seats. The front driver's seat has a five-way adjustment with lumbar support, and it's actually quite comfortable over long hauls. The Accent's back seat is definitely a cut above competitors such as the
Dodge/Plymouth Neon, which feels more like a hard picnic bench than a car seat. He: One additional thought. If you're attracted to the Hyundai and you've got a few extra bucks to play with, you might want to check out the Accent GSi, which comes
with larger 14-inch tires, alloy wheels and a stiffer suspension, plus lots of other upgrades. She: The only thing you don't get on any of the Accent models is enough sheet metal to make you feel immortal, infallible and invincible. If you can
live with that, go ahead and buy it. 1998 Hyundai Accent GS 3-door Type: Front-wheel-drive, five-passenger hatchback Price: Base, $9,899; as tested, $11,008 (no additional destination charge) What's new
'98: Mild front and rear restyling; all models but L get power steering Standard equipment: Four-wheel independent suspension Front disc brakes Tinted glass Intermittent wipers Rear window defroster Rear window
wiper/washer AM/FM cassette radio 60/40 split-fold rear seat Cloth upholstery Safety: Adjustable front seat belts Dual front air bags Options on test vehicle: Air conditioner ($994) Carpeted floor mats ($60)
Mud guards ($55). EPA fuel economy: 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder; 92 hp at 5,500 rpm; 97 lb-ft torque at 4,000 rpm Transmission: Five-speed manual 12-month insurance cost, according to AAA
Michigan: $1,100. Rates based on an average family of four from the Livonia area whose primary driver is age 40 with no tickets who drives 3-10 miles each way to work. Rates reflect multicar discount and, where appropriate, discounts for air bags and seat
belts. Where built: Ulsan, South Korea Specifications: Wheelbase- 94.5 in. Overall length- 161.5 in. Curb weight- 2,150 pounds Legroom- 42.6 in. front/32.7 in. rear Headroom- 38.7 in. front/37.8 in. rear Shoulder
room- 52.8 in. front/52.4 in. rear