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New Car Review

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SEE ALSO: Hyundai Buyer's Guide


by Tom/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $  8,795
     Price As Tested                                    $ 10 061
     Engine Type                            1.5 Liter I4 w/MPFI*
     Engine Size                                  91 cid\1495 cc
     Horsepower                                    92 @ 5500 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                                96 @ 3000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   94.5"/63.8"/162.1"
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     2101 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P205/70R15
     Brakes (F/R)                                      Disc/drum
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Five-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            28/37/33          
     0-60 MPH                                       11.3 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       18.9 seconds @ 74 mph
     Top Speed (Est.)                                        N/A

     * Multiport fuel injection

(Hyundai has had a tough time in this country, according to Bob Hagin, and things aren't getting any easier for it in the entry-level "econobox" market place. Tom Hagin say that its current Accent has what it takes to make it "different" and successful, while his father Bob wants to drive the hot-rod GT version.)

BOB - When Hyundai first came on the American auto scene ten years ago, it was a sensation. It had been conceived in Korea and designed in Italy - the power train engineered in Japan and various items such as interior fabrics and tires were made in the U.S. And best of all, it only cost a bit over $6,500. The new Hyundai allowed buyers who would otherwise have to go into a used car drive something brand new.

TOM - A new Hyundai is still not terribly expensive at its $8,700 base price for the new three-door, Dad. The company got a bad reputation for reliability in years gone by, but maybe those kinds of problems can be expected when a relative newcomer takes on heavyweights who have been in the small car business for a couple of decades. Since then, the reliability of the whole Hyundai line has gone up according those independent research outfits. But Accent appeared last year with a pretty spartan set-up. Power steering was available only as an option, and the skinny little 155-by-70 tires made sudden maneuvers a bit "iffy" at best.

BOB - I suppose Hyundai saw it needed some standard "extras" to make Accent more attractive, which moved the new version a bit more upscale. Air conditioning and a stereo are standard, and the anemic tires have been replaced with 170-series rubber. This '96 version is much easier to handle in downtown traffic than last year's car and it has other convenience amenities I like, too. Although I hate to have to climb into the back seat of any of these little coupes, its much easier in the Accent than many of other small cars them. The front passenger's seat automatically slides toward the dashboard when the seat back is folded forward. Getting into the rear wasn't easy, but at least I didn't have to go to the chiropractor when I got out.

TOM - It has some other standard extras that make driving easier, too. The side mirrors are remote-adjustable and the hatchback and gas filler door can be unlatched from inside. But the hatchback door opens just high enough so I bump my head every time I get into the trunk, and that trunk space is quite sparse until you drop the rear seat. Then it's big enough to hold the "necessities" of life.

BOB - Like a pair of skis or a disassembled mountain bike, Tom? You've got to remember that this Accent is pretty much a town shopper and wasn't designed for cross-country touring or pulling your ski boat. But since it has four-wheel independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars, it handles pretty well for a small, inexpensive car. The single-cam engine only puts out 92 horses and while this is enough to squirt the car through city traffic, it's a little short to be doing much heavy-duty hauling. It's performance strong point is that it gets 28 miles to the gallon around town and almost 10 more on the highway.

TOM - But it's a good thing that our test Accent had the 5-speed manual gearbox, Dad. That mileage drops a bit with an automatic and the fun quotient drops even more. I wish our car had a tachometer though. With an engine this small, it's handy to be able to shift at specific engine speeds to keep up with traffic. The power band is pretty narrow and it was tough to stay on top of the curve without overreving or lugging the engine.

BOB - To get a tach on an Accent, you have to buy the GT version and next year we'll try to get one. It has a twin-cam, 4-valve engine that also displaces 1.5 liters, but its power jumps up to 105. The GT even has a lower final drive ratio so acceleration is quicker and the suspension has been beefed up so that it handles better. I'd really like to wring out a GT.

TOM - Dad, why is it that speed is all you ever think about?

BOB - I guess that you've never hear the term "Second Childhood."