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20th December 2002 is a day that is etched in my memory, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the elation I felt when I heard those fateful words ‘you’ve passed’. I’m referring to my driving test, of course! Passing (first time) absolutely made my day and I was still on a high five days later when my husband passed me my Christmas present to open. Although I was delighted with the book he’d bought me, I was a little surprised that it was my only present. Still, the book was an excellent choice, I was very happy with it, so imagine how ecstatic I was when he informed me that my ‘other’ present was one I would be choosing myself – he was buying me a car!!! I was all for going out touring garage forecourts immediately, but my husband assured me that I’d be better off eating my Christmas dinner first.
As it happens it was actually February before we finally had a weekend free to find my very first car. I’d set my heart on a small car, I’d learnt to drive in a Corsa so quite fancied one of those, but my only stipulation was that it had to have power steering (my husbands Rover doesn’t, and I found it very heavy to drive).
With £3,000 burning a hole in my pocket we toured the local garages, visiting 20 or so during the first day, and by the end of the afternoon I was utterly demoralised. We’d narrowed it down to a handful of cars, but to be honest I wasn’t really all that taken with any of them, none of them fitted my image of my ideal car exactly… Then we visited the Hyundai garage! Wandering around I actually walked right past the red Hyundai Accent at the back of the forecourt, I was looking through ‘small car’ blinkers and immediately dismissed the Accent as too big. My husband stopped though, and called me back for a look. “This has got power steering,” he said, and as I turned around for a second look I have to admit that I was very taken with the appearance of the Accent. The colour was burgundy, though Hyundai describe it as ‘blush red’ and it immediately appealed to me. The car was R Reg, about the size of an Escort, lower at the front than the back, with alloys, rear spoiler and most importantly power steering. I have to admit I really liked the look of it. Though hardly on a par with a TT, the Accent was certainly a much nicer looking car than the boxy small cars I’d been examining that were within my price range. Though as an R Reg it was older than I’d been hoping for, the price was about right, and I was sorely tempted…
Needless to say, despite visiting several more garages the following day I was drawn back to the Hyundai Accent, and returned on Sunday to take it out for a test drive. It had been two months since I’d passed my test, and during those two months I’d only driven my husbands car twice! Still, I was very surprised when I jumped into the drivers seat of the Accent at just how easy it was to drive, even for a comparative novice like me! The saleswoman took me through the controls, and I was very pleased to notice the adjustable steering wheel, as I’m pretty tall for a woman and I had to raise the steering wheel to the higher of the two settings. Adjusting the seat was slightly more complex. Although the seat slides forwards and backwards easily enough, instead of turning a wheel to adjust the back of the seat the Accent has a handle which you lift, you then get yourself into the required position, let go of the handle, and the seat clicks into place. Now that I’m used to this mechanism I don’t have any problems with it, but there have been occasions when I’ve gone to adjust my sitting position, leaned on the seat and found myself flat on my back! (When the car was parked, of course!)
After actually testing the car I was hopelessly besotted… Comfortable, easy to drive, nice looking, the Hyundai Accent was the car for me. I hadn’t intended to buy a saloon, I hadn’t intended to buy a medium sized car, but I certainly wasn’t against the idea. So, my husband was then mightily embarrassed as I marched into the Hyundai dealership and negotiated a sizable discount on the price of the car, and the Accent was mine!
I couldn’t wait to drive my new car, hastily christened ‘Bob’, but had a fight on my hands with my husband who also wanted to drive! I did eventually got behind the steering wheel again (yes, he won, he had the first go!) I did find that it took me a while to get used to the indicator being on the right of the steering wheel, and was constantly flicking the left switch, then swearing furiously as the windscreen wipers started swishing! This is standard on Hyundai cars, but it took a lot of getting used to, believe me!
Until I got used to the car I found that it was sometimes difficult to get into first gear. I would’ve assumed that this was just because I was a driving novice, but my husband also had the same problem (accompanied by the same awful crunching sound) and he’s been driving for years. Still, we soon got used to Bob’s funny little ways! Other than this, I’ve been driving the car for a year now, and even though it is an R Reg, so not exactly the newest of cars, I haven’t had any problems with it so far (you should see how anxiously I’m crossing my fingers whilst simultaneously bashing my other hand on the wooden desk for double de-jinxing power!)
Well, when I say I haven’t had any problems with it…
Mechanically the car has been fine so far, and as it is in Burgundy it doesn’t show the muck too badly, which is always a bonus! The power steering is very light, and the car itself is very, very easy to drive, even for a beginner as I was when I first drove it. However, as a saloon it doesn’t have a rear windscreen wiper, which is a pain in the backside, if I’m honest. Also, although the seats are comfortable, the suspension isn’t too hot, and you really do feel every bump when you’re motoring in the Accent. Long journeys, then, become a bit of a nightmare for the bottom (of the human occupant, not the car!) Also, my Accent is a 1.3, and I have to say there’s a significant lack of power on inclines. We took the car on holiday to Cornwall last year, and it really struggled with the hills. It really does perform quite poorly on hills in comparison to my husbands Rover, also a 1.3, which has never had a problem powering straight up the steepest of gradients. Also, and probably most annoying of all, in cold or damp weather the windows get very steamed up very quickly, and they’re almost impossible to clear again. Even with the rear window heater on and the blowers going full pelt set on meltingly hot there are still traces of mist on the windows, and woe betide the Accent driver who tries to turn the heat down a bit when the steam has more or less cleared – because it comes back again with a vengeance – leaving the driver with a choice between turning the heating back up and arriving at their destination par-boiled, opening a window and getting frozen/soaked or turning the heating to a bearable level and thus driving with severely restricted vision.
I can’t tell you exactly how many miles my Accent does to the gallon (maths never was my strong point!) but I can tell you that it is not quite as economical as hubby’s Rover (an M Reg 214), but it isn’t far off.
So far I’ve only had one reasonably serious accident in the Accent… No, it wasn’t actually my fault! A young lad in an old Fiesta didn’t noticed I’d stopped at a crossing and drove straight into the back of my car! His Fiesta only suffered a broken headlight, but my Accent needed a complete new rear bumper, including fixings, even though he’d been driving pretty slowly when he hit me. Luckily his insurance covered it, but I consider the £500+ that the repair actually cost to be extremely expensive, and I’m also surprised by the amount of damage that was caused for what was really a relatively minor collision. Especially as my neighbour was in a similar accident last week (he also has a Rover) and his car wasn’t even damaged…
Still, when it comes down to it, despite the few minor problems I’ve encountered with the Accent I would definitely recommend it, and Hyundai in general, to anybody looking for a new car, especially the new driver. The Accent is a very easy car to drive, it’s nice looking (well, I think so anyway!) and my car has been extremely reliable so far, although now that the warranty has expired I suppose that something is bound to go wrong!
‘Bob’ is an R Reg, Hyundai Accent 1.3 Saloon in Blush Red.
oh, and the safety feature of having to engage the clutch when turing the engine on is another great feature that I like about them! drew
drewboy 29.06.2004 14:22
I love peolpe who name their cars, so far my cars have been called darla and now max! Really enjoyed reading your review, my mum had an accent when I was younger and now my sister has bought one and they really are very good cars. Only thing I really didn't like about them was the gearbox, they all seem to have a weird crunching sound, and I was stranded in cumbria once when the gearbox on my mums packed in and had to be towed all the way the central scotland! I think the seat adjustment mechanism should be in ALL cars, so much easier than twisting a stupid knob for hours! Regards to Bob, drew
kazstew 04.04.2004 00:27
I also have the same car as you and the same steamy windows. If you go down the motorway listen out for noise coming from windows.It sounds like they are not sealed as they should be and I personally think thats the reason we are steamy.
But yes very good car.I am as happy with mine as you are with yours.