Superficial Review: Hyundai Accent GL
I visited the former South Point Pontiac in South Austin, Texas. It is not clear whether South Point Hyundai is the same business, or if another business was started in that location.
This afternoon I intended to touch and look at a Hyundai Accent GL which is an especially spartan, small hatchback. The GL trim makes the Accent the lowest priced car available in the United States. With Texas-requisite air conditioning, destination charges, and so forth, the MSRP of the car is under $12000. One would expect to pay under $11000, even with a couple of dealer-installed accessories. Money quote: “Oh, I think we could get you into this for about eleven thou. [sic]”
Reviews of this car read either:
- It’s well built, does well on all the surveys and you would have to pay twice as much money to get a better car. Or
- When gas was $4/gallon, I had to trade the F250. I only bought an Accent because of its fuel economy and downright cheap initial price. This little puddle jumper has been a real kick to drive and at around 40K mi. I haven’t had a single problem. Haven’t missed power steering or power windows at all. On my 38 mi. round-trip commute it gets about 41 MPG.
What’s missing? From the spec sheets:
- Alloy wheels
- EBD ABS, electronic brake-force distribution anti-lock brakes.
- Power windows and window lock-out
- Automatic transmission is not available as an option on the GL
- Power steering
- Any kind of entertainment or driver-information system. In the place of the radio you find two cubby holes, both are DIN sized. Most people retain one cubby and put their digital media player in it.
- Cruise control is not available, even as a dealer installed option. I am not certain whether aftermarket Cruise is permissible under warranty.
- All dealer-installed accessories are available on the GL, this includes air conditioning. Hyundai actually offers a line of Hyundai-branded “aftermarket” radios, but this dealer does not offer them. For the record A/C is a $1000 “option”. Each of the GLs on that lot have the A/C installed.
- The 1600 cc G4ED Alpha II engine offers more horsepower than the 2300 cc engine in my truck, although about two-thirds the torque. The vehicles weigh about the same. The Accent is actually around 900 lb. lighter. The Accent is quicker with a 11 second 0-62 time. Longer when Pops Baker is at the wheel. Once broken in the Accent will offer a 50% improvement in fuel economy.
- I sat in a car with the dealer-installed B&M “Short Shifter”, which is standard on the top trim. After the eight-inch throw from first to second in my Ranger, it was a revelation. The throw from first to second is about two inches. Despite my fiscal proclivities, I may have to have the short shifter.
- The engine is especially smooth. Hyundai, even when the rest of the car was dismal, was renowned for the smoothness and durability of their engines. I now have a reasonable idea as to why. I put my hand right on top of the air cleaner and could barely feel it operating.
- This is a Korean car. They still smoke in Korea. Every car is equipped with a cigarette lighter and readily removable ashtray. With the lighter, the Accent has two power outlets.
- The GL has the same fender-mounted turn signals as the other trim levels. This is a safety feature.
The finish on the car, the clear coat, looks really good. Better than any American or Japanese car I’ve seen closely for some time. The materials on the seats feel sturdy and look a little funky. All interior surfaces are either black or charcoal. The dashboard itself is “a bit plastic” as James May would say, but it feels right. The gauge layout is quite good, obviously copying the Euros and I’m not complaining. The rear hatch and doors have some heft and close with confidence and security. The last showroom vehicle I encountered was the Smart Fortwo, and the Smart feels flimsy in comparison. Some folks will hate it, but by my humble standards it’s quite good.
I wish there were dealer-installed provision for more than the lone coolant-temperature gauge. I like having oil pressure and amps right there in front of me all the time. I appreciate the tachometer, especially in a car with which I am not especially familiar.
Were I to purchase an Accent GL, what would I want to do to it? I’m not a guy for the obnoxious exhaust or nifty stereo set. I’ve only recently learned the term “head unit”. Apparently that is what we used to call “radio”. Although having heard some videos of the same engine with a Flowmaster exhaust behind it … well, it’s tempting.
My next car is getting a dash cover to protect from the unrelenting sun, a windshield sun blocker, seat covers, Weathertech floor mats, and I will be the jackass who has a car with a car cover in the apartment complex parking lot. I guess I’ll need an aftermarket stereo, too. Those all look like poorly made science-fiction props, so I’ll have to shop carefully.
I like the Accent. I like its spirit. I like that it looks like what it is supposed to look like, a cheap little car. I like that it is built in the plant constructed when the world’s largest cargo ship supplier decided to export cars around the world. But I really like the price.
If I can get into one closer to ten grand …
I’m really going to hate the day I give up my trusty but rusty Ranger.