Hyundais smallest, least costly model gets a major face-lift for 2003. These changes include reworked styling in the hood, fenders, headlights, fascias and taillights. The entry-level L model gets the 105-horsepower, 1.6-liter dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine that had previously been limited to GS and GL editions. A 92-hp, 1.5-liter engine was used before. Last redesigned for the 2000 model year, the front-wheel-drive Accent is still available as a three-door hatchback or a four-door sedan.
DaimlerChrysler holds a 10 percent stake in Hyundai, which in turn owns Kia. Hyundai and Kia rank as South Koreas largest and second largest auto manufacturers, respectively. In the coming years, both are expected to work with Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi to develop a new line of small cars for worldwide sale.
Differing in appearance from the econoboxes of the past, the Accent is largely made up of straight lines and edges with enough curves to attract interest. Mounted on a 96.1-inch wheelbase, the Accent has an overall length of 166.7 inches thats approximately 8 inches shorter than the Honda Civic and slightly shorter than the Ford Focus sedan. The Accent is 54.9 inches tall and 65.7 inches wide.
The Accent is capable of seating five occupants on its two front buckets and rear bench seat, but the cars limited legroom and narrow interior make four passengers the practical limit. The Accents cargo volume is 11.8 cubic feet for the sedan and 16.9 cubic feet for the hatchback. Both body styles have a folding rear seatback that expands cargo capacity. Standard equipment includes power steering, a cassette player and a rear-window defroster.
Under the Hood
All Accent models for 2003 get a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 105 hp. A five-speed-manual gearbox is standard, and a four-speed-automatic transmission is optional.
Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are not available.
Unlike the small vehicles of Hyundais past, the Accent qualifies as one of the better small cars on the market. But the compact-car market isnt exactly overloaded these days. Despite some drawbacks, a lengthy powertrain warranty makes the Accent a good value. Gas mileage is another big benefit.
The Accent is easy to drive. It has somewhat sluggish steering but maneuvers competently. A hatchback model with an automatic transmission turned out to be enjoyable, practical and fairly comfortable. This car is rather cute, and it also appears to be well built. Front-seat space is abundant, but riders in the backseat will be more cramped and will get only a fair amount of legroom. Getting into the backseat isnt easy.
Despite some light choppiness, the ride is pleasant. Ample glass translates to fine visibility. When accelerating hard in lower gears, the engine delivers a loud blare, but its quieter while cruising. The manually operated Accent is more spirited, but an automatic-transmission model lags in strength and has to struggle hard to trudge up steep grades. Passing and merging with the automatic might produce more noise than action, so a bit of discretion is wise before darting out into traffic.