A phenomenal car new and used. As a kid growing up, I have many memories of the whole family squishing into the first car my parents ever purchased brand-new. It was an exciting day when dad brought home a brand-new small car.
And small it was, with three growing boys squished in the back of this small two-door hatch. Many a fight was had, especially in summer with the poverty-stricken model that we owned without air-conditioning and no rear windows – the temperature made everyone's moods volatile.
With a not-so-powerful 1.5-litre twin-cam engine coupled with a five-speed manual transmission, we were going nowhere in a hurry. But we always made it to the destination due to the amazing reliability that Hyundai had bestowed the LC Accent with. Servicing the car at regular intervals, we owned it until it got to 220,000km and decided to sell it after I had learnt to drive in it.
Lo and behold, when I was searching for my first car, a Hyundai Accent with 63,000km just happened to appear for sale. And not much longer had I seen it, than we had a Hyundai back in the driveway. With its easy to clean, not so luxury-based interior and very few features, this was an amazingly cheap car for a first-car buyer, and an incredibly fuel-efficient car for an unemployed uni student.
Then came the car's downfalls. My car does not like to go up hills with the air-conditioning on. It's just like pressing a button and halving the power of the car, so you soon learn that air-conditioning is for downhill use only. The stereo was horrible – a CD player that got pulled out and thrown in the bin within days of owning the car and replaced by a head unit with all the features.
The paint was another downfall. Sun fade in the gold pigment turned the car into a two-tone fade from silver to gold, and the clear coat started to peel off the spoiler and roof at less than 15 years of age.
The car was extremely practical. With a large boot and folding seats in a hatch, you could fit a washing machine in there, until I decided that the room would be better utilised by a stereo.
The car performed amazingly, unless you get sea sick – with small swaybars, the body roll is immense when you try to get a little spirited with your driving. Nevertheless, it still sticks and goes around corners like a go-kart. Just a little more sway than other cars.
The MacPherson strut suspension allowed it to handle quite well without losing grip on the road. The brakes are a fail – small single-piston brakes up front and drum brakes on the rear. Spirited downhill driving is not recommended as the brake fade is a little exciting at speed.
The car was quiet until the exhaust rusted through, and with no replacement exhausts available off the shelf, I opted for a custom one instead of welding holes up. I replaced the whole exhaust from the mid-section back with mandrel-bent steel and a cannon at the rear. A little loud but bearable for daily driving.
All in all, it isn't the best of cars and has its downfalls, but they are made up for with its low cost to run and own – and the fun you have banging around in this little cheap car made in Korea.