UK CAR Reader Review :  Hyundai Accent 1.5GLSi Automatic 1998(R)

With baby number 2 on the way, we were looking for a slightly larger car than our old Skoda Favoroit, and after a couple of minor let downs by things like the battery, and a flat tyre where the alloy wheel had corroded and broken the seal, we decided that brand-new was the only way to go. 

There was a bit of shopping around. We were looking for a family car with a large boot, which would fit one driver of 6’2” and another of 5’3”. The list whittled down quickly. The Renault Scenic’s handbrake was too low down for a woman “great with child” to reach comfortably. The Proton range had very shallow boots. The Megane we test drove had a very noisy creak on the footbrake. Skoda were out of favour and didn’t even get a second look in on this occasion, even though I pointed out that problems we’d had were normal for a 7 year old car. Then we saw the Hyundai Accent. 

Huge boot. Affordable. Fitted both drivers comfortably. These factors, plus a relaxed and non-pushy salesman clinched it for us. We decided to have a model with a few extras, the bigger engine and the automatic gearbox. Now three years old, the car still drives like new. It is virtually silent at motorway speeds, and the automatic gearbox (which I believe is a Mitsubishi design, I could be wrong) is perfect. We have had a few minor niggles, but nothing which has made us want to get rid of it. These are: The boot light stayed on once and flattened the battery. 

This was fixed with a little WD40 on the boot catch. The brakes developed a judder under heavy braking from high speeds. The garage replaced the discs, but the judder is back again, and I’m beginning to think that this might be a characteristic of the car, as on the MR2. With the sunroof removed completely, (rare in the UK, I know,) there is a deafening booming noise between 30 and 40mph. This disappears if the windows are opened just a fraction. The front wheel bearings were replaced (free) under the 3-year service. I know it was free, but this was a bit worrying after just 10,000 miles. You can’t see the rear fog light switch or the warning light from the normal driving position. This was moved on the next model. The body panels can be bent with one finger, and the paint scratches right through to the primer with a fingernail.  

However, the strengths of this cheap and cheerful little car outweigh the weaknesses tenfold. The suspension is firm, but not hard, and the kids don’t get at all travel sick. The 1495cc 12-valve engine and auto box give fairly nippy acceleration, but still return over 40mpg on a motorway run. You forget that the steering is power assisted until you need to crank it into a tight parking space. The boot (or whatever that space is called on a hatchback) swallows all our holiday luggage easily. Even the spares are reasonably priced as I found when someone broke the indicator unit in a car park, and it slid out easily once a single screw had been removed.

For cheap family motoring, the Accent takes some beating.

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