The members of the F-Body Club (Camaros and Firebirds) held one of their club auto slaloms today and I decided this would be a very good (and legal) way of testing the Accent's sportiness. What better way to see if this econobox could perform than to run it head to head against lots of Detroit torque and testosterone?
These V8-style auto slalom courses tend to be fast with long straights and sweeping turns and for these power machines, the straighter the better. Not exactly what the Hyundai needs to show its agility.
When all was said and done, the little Accent held its' own and we finished 17th out of 32 cars in A-Modified Class. Apparently anything that is not a Camaro or Firebird is automatically in A-Modified Class. So we were up against Subaru STis, BMWs, Porsches, Mustangs and the likes. So, with its mere 110 hp buzzy engine and Kumho "no-season" tires, it went up against some formidable competition and managed to beat almost half of them.
The Hyundai handles curves with little body lean and feels quite agile. The tires, with a 440 tread wear rating (read "hockey pucks"), are definitely the weak point of the handling package and are designed more for mileage and ride quality than outright grip. The engine has a "soft" rev limiter, meaning it doesn't violently bang on and off the power when you encounter it like some cars do. The small 1600 cc engine makes its power higher up in the rev range and requires more upshifts and downshifts the stay in the power during the runs.
The Accent was fun to drive, not as fun as a Miata or Lotus Elise, but it was still fun. I strongly urge anyone wanting to have fun with their cars or learn more about their cars' capabilities to look for any of these many auto slalom events and have your fun in a legal and safe manner.