Very nice car and much more reliable than my previous Mazda 323 (contrary to the convention).
It is reasonably fast and has a good pull at low rpms.
What sold me though, was its flat cornering and braking, as well as precise steering; there was no other vehicle at that price range in 1997 that could match the Accent GT (however, this would be different for other Accents since their suspension/steering is different).
The "cheap-looking plastic" is, I feel, a good feature as it's much more durable than alternatives. The seats are very comfortable and I like the fabric design.
I love the hatchback, a feature that is hard to come by in the US. The sunroof however is virtually useless as it is too far back.
The radio is OK if you don't demand it to play your music loud, but it's still not worth its cost.
The gearshift throws are extremely long and slow down acceleration quite a bit.
A/C is noisy but quite good.
The car is almost rattle-free even after 80,000 miles (except for a little bit from the hatch area). The highway ride is noisy and choppy due to the car's light weight and short wheelbase, but tolerable around town.
The car has a surprisingly low fuel economy for its size.