2001 Hyundai Accent GSi
2001 Hyundai Accent GSi
Click image to enlarge

For 2001, the Hyundai Accent GSi has a new, more powerful 106 horsepower 1.6 litre DOHC 16 valve four cylinder engine. Standard features include a sport-tuned suspension, 14 inch tires and alloy wheels, rear spoiler, front fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and sporty cloth upholstery. The MSRP is just $14,295 – cheap in this class.

Fun and affordable

There aren’t many small cars on the market that are both fun-to-drive and affordable – Honda’s Civic Si Coupe now starts $19,800, the Ford Focus ZX3 starts at $16,970 while the VW Golf starts at $19,045 and GTi’s start at $26,050.

2001 Hyundai Accent GSi
Click image to enlarge
Photo: Julie Iverson, North Shore News

The only cars under $15,000 are mostly Korean: the Hyundai Accent, Daewoo Lanos, Kia Rio and the Japanese Suzuki Swift. Of these, only the Accent offers a sporty model: the GSi hatchback.

For $14,295, the GSi offers a new, standard 106 horsepower 1.6 litre twin cam 16 valve four cylinder engine, 60-series 14 inch tires and alloy wheels, front fog lamps, and a fully independent suspension. Sporty interior touches include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, light-coloured gauges, and special cloth seats.

Curiously though, some features are not available on the GSi, including a passenger-side front airbag, power windows, and anti-lock brakes – the latter a significant omission in a sporty car.
Still, the Accent GSi is a bargain in the sporty sub-compact class. With freight charges, it comes to just $14,670.

Accent redesigned in 2000

The Accent two-door hatchback and four-door sedan were redesigned for the 2000 model year with slightly crisper styling, a reduction in interior noise, and a roomier, redesigned interior.

2001 Hyundai Accent 1.6 litre DOHC 16V
Photo: Julie Iverson, North Shore News

For 2001, the GSi hatchback and the GL four-door sedan models receive a more powerful 106 horsepower 1.6 litre DOHC 16 valve four cylinder engine – base GS hatchbacks continue to offer the 92 horsepower 1.5 litre SOHC 12 valve four cylinder engine.

The new 1.6 litre engine is quieter than the 1.5 litre unit due to a strengthened block, crankshaft counterweights, and hydraulic engine mounts. The 2001 Accent also has a larger brake booster and new brake pads which reduce brake shudder.

GSi sportier than GS

2001 Hyundai Accent GS
2001 Hyundai Accent GS

Compared to the standard Accent GS hatchback ($12,595), the GSi adds the 106 horsepower 1.6 litre motor, larger P185/60R-14 inch tires and alloy wheels, a stiffer ‘sport-tuned’ suspension, fog lights, a rear spoiler, bodyside cladding, pop-up sunroof, sporty seat cloth, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, light grey-coloured instruments, a Clarion AM/FM/CD stereo, central power door locking (including the rear hatch), and a rear wiper and washer.

When you think about it, this is a lot of extra stuff for $1,700.

Driving Impressions

With a fairly narrow track and a short wheelbase, the Accent is quite nimble and easy to maneuver in tight situations. The standard power-assisted steering is quick and responsive, and the ride, while sporty, is not too stiff or uncomfortably choppy. Accent GSi’s come standard with a fully independent front MacPherson strut/rear dual link/coil springs suspension and Hankook H406 185/60R-14 inch tires and five-spoke alloy wheels. It’s the kind of small car you can enjoy throwing around. Even when you reach its limits, it generates mild understeer (ploughing) which is easily controllable. I enjoyed it the longer I had it.

The engine develops 106 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 107 ft-lb of torque at a reasonably low 3000 rpm. Acceleration is brisk and it lets out a fairly raw, growling sound under acceleration, which subsides to a gentle hum at highway speeds. At a steady 100 km/h in fifth gear, the engine does about 2700 rpm. The cabin is reasonably quiet, but I noticed some wind noise seeping through the hatchback at highway speeds.

The five-speed manual gearshifter is positioned close to the driver’s reach, and the throws are definitely shorter in length than in the previous generation Accent (in 1999). The shifter has mechanical, deliberate throws of medium length which feel a bit sloppy at first, but get better as you get used to them. I noticed a slight gear-whine from the transmission when travelling down a slight grade with my foot off the throttle. Clutch effort is light.

The standard front disc/rear drum brakes offer plenty of stopping power for this fairly lightweight (992 kg) car, but ABS is not available, even as an option. ABS is an important safety feature when panic braking in slippery conditions as it allows the driver greater steering control to avoid obstacles.

Sporty interior

2001 Hyundai Accent GSI interior
Photo: Julie Iverson, North Shore News

The GSi’s interior has durable, sporty cloth fabric on the seat and door inserts. My test car had black cloth with colour speckles, a two-tone leather-covered steering wheel and a two-tone leather-wrapped shift knob. The dashboard features light-grey gauges, including a tachometer with a 6600 rpm redline, a central speedometer, and fuel and coolant gauges. On the left side of the dash is a button for the rear wiper/washer which features an intermittent setting, however it’s obscured by the left stalk which has the headlight controls.

The centre dash control panel has metallic-look plastic trim, and features a digital clock, and a Clarion AM/FM/CD stereo. The Clarion stereo has very small buttons which are hard to read, and I couldn’t find a Seek function on the radio. The sound however, was great.

Three large dials for fan speed, ventilation and temperature are easy to operate, and below that are two pull-out cupholders. Unfortunately, a cup placed here can obscure the heater controls. There’s also an ashtray, power point and an open storage bin. Behind the shift lever is a hand-brake lever and a small coin holder. There’s no centre armrest or storage bin, but there is a small covered tray on the left side of the dash, and a fairly large glovebox.

The standard sunroof is a flip-up glass sunroof, with a removeable sunshade rather than a sliding sunshade.

Front passengers have plenty of headroom and legroom, and the driver’s seat has a height-adjustable seat cushion and lumbar adjustment. However, there’s no tilt steering wheel. As I mentioned, there is a driver’s airbag, but no passenger airbag.

The rear seating area has a surprising amount of headroom and legroom for two adults, but it’s a bit narrow for three passengers even though there are three seatbelts. To access the rear passenger area, both front seats will automatically slide forwards when the seatback is lowered, and will return to their original position when pushed back – that’s a real plus in a two-door car! In addition, a pedal on the back of the passenger’s front seat allows the rear passenger to fold down the front seatback and push the front seat forwards.

Rear passengers have outside armrests, one cupholder at the back of the centre console, and two map pockets on back of the front seats.

The 60/40 split folding rear seats provide access from the surprisingly large 16.9 cu. ft. trunk, but they are not lockable. The rear hatchback lifts up to provide a large opening to the trunk. The hatch has a latch to open it manually – in addition, the remote keyless entry fob locks and unlocks the hatch with the doors. A privacy cover keep the cargo area covered when the hatch is closed.

Price and features

For $14,295, the Accent GSi has all the features mentioned above – the only option is a 4-speed automatic transmission for $750 and air conditioning which is a dealer-installed option.

Like all Hyundai’s it comes with a bumper to bumper 3 year/60,000 km warranty and a 5 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty.

If you don’t mind not having a passenger airbag or anti-lock brakes, it’s certainly a tempting entry-level sporty vehicle – and it has the roominess of a hatchback too.

Technical Data:

2001 Hyundai Accent GSi
Base price $14,295
Freight $375
Price as tested $14,670
Type 2-door, 5 passenger hatchback
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive
Engine 1.6 litre 4 cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves
Horsepower 106 @ 5800 rpm
Torque 107 ft-lb @ 3000 rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual
Tires Hankook H406 185/60R-14
Curb weight 992 kg (2187 lb.)
Wheelbase 2440 mm (96.1 in.)
Length 4200 mm (165.4 in.)
Width 1670 mm (65.7 in.)
Height 1395 mm (54.9 in.)
Trunk space 479 litres (16.9 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 8.7 l/100 km (32 mpg)
  Hwy: 5.8 l/100 km (49 mpg)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km

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