Classic Cars Wiki
Classic Cars Wiki

The Hyundai Excel (Hangul:현대 엑셀), also known as the Hyundai Pony, Hyundai Presto and the Mitsubishi Precis, was the first front wheel drive car produced by Hyundai. The Excel was built from 1985 to 1994. The Excel range replaced Hyundai's rear wheel drive Hyundai Pony but the Excel was sold under the Pony name in some markets - any front wheel drive Pony is actually an Excel.


The Hyundai Excel was available in hatchback and 4-door models. Originally, the Excel was supposed to be replaced by the Elantra in 1990, but ended up being sold for four more seasons until being replaced by the Hyundai Accent in 1994. The Excel was the first Hyundai car to be exported to the United States. From 1990, there was a coupe variant called the Hyundai Scoupe, which was replaced by the Hyundai Coupe in 1996. The Hyundai Excel was available with either a manual or automatic transmission mated to a 4-cylinder engine aspirated by a carburetor or fuel injection system, depending on market and model year.


Some markets, including Europe, had the Excel branded as the Hyundai Pony, although it is not directly related to the rear wheel drive Hyundai Pony from the early 1980s. The sedan version of the X1 model was known as the Hyundai Presto in South Korea.

The Excel was also sold in the United States by Mitsubishi Motors from 1987 to 1994 as the badge engineered Mitsubishi Precis. Available as either a 3- or 5-door hatchback, the Precis remained in the Mitsubishi range as a "price leader," slotted below the Mirage until it was discontinued in 1992.

X1 (1985–89)[]

The Excel was introduced as a replacement for the Hyundai Pony. In the United States it was the company's first and only model, but thanks to a price of US$4,995 and being voted Best Product #10 by Fortune magazine, it set records for a first-year import by selling 168,882 units, helping push the company's cumulative production past one million by 1986. Similar sales success was replicated in Australia, where it was priced at A$9,990. Sales soon dropped as serious quality problems emerged with the car. In Europe the car continued the Pony nameplate. It was much more modern than its predecessor with new engines, front-wheel drive and an all-new design. Available engines were 1,3 (1298 cc (79ci)) and 1,5 litre (1468 cc (90ci)) inline-four units, producing 66 HP (49 kW) and 71 HP (53 kW). On the South Korean home market, the hatchbacks were marketed as "Pony Excel" and the sedan was called Hyundai Presto. The 1985 Pony was only sold as five-door hatchback in Europe. Unlike the first Pony Sedan, the Pony/Excel X1 Sedan had the boot separated from the passenger compartment.

1987 facelift[]

With the 1987 facelift, the Pony name got the XP suffix in Europe which was also found on the car itself. More important, this series saw the return of both the three-door hatchback and the four-door sedan in Europe. The 1,3 liter engine was discontinued, the 1,5 liter remained unchanged. In Europe, the LE was added as fourth trim level, this being the new entry level followed by the familiar L, GL and GLS models. All trim levels could be combined with all three body styles. An automatic gearbox was again available only on the GLS model.

Brought as a new generation, the 1989 Excel was more like a next facelift. A new version of the 1,5 litre engine was introduced, with electronic fuel-injection instead of a carburetor. This 1.5 MPI produced 85 HP (62 kW).

Most remarkable, the 1989 look was very short lived: with the 1990 model year yet another facelift appeared. Another notable fact was the renaming of the four-door Pony Sedan to Excel in Europe. This transition went gradually, for example in the Dutch 1989 brochure photo's of a Pony badged sedan are shown while the text refers to Excel. The 1990 brochure shows an actual Excel.

The 1.5 MPI engine was not offered in the five-door Pony. On the other hand, both the Pony three-door hatchback as well as the Excel four-door sedan came in a vast amount of models.

The second-generation Excel was given a facelift and slightly enlarged from 1990 onwards, while its engine adopted multi-point fuel injection, and a new 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission was offered.

The 1.3 model and the Mitsubishi Colt also share the same engine and gearbox.

1990 facelift[]

The Excel's 1989 styling was closely related to the all-new Sonata, which was launched in Europe for the 1989 model year. The mid-sized Sonata, successor of the Stellar, underwent already a facelift for the 1990 model year. The styling of the Excel followed in late 1991 to keep the resemblance with the Sonata. Most noticeable was the front end, where all three cars' orange indicator lenses were replaced by clear ones and the headlamps became less rectangular.

From 1991, the 1.5 versions were badged 1.5i to denote fuel injection.

Third Generation (X3; 1994–2000)[]

When the Hyundai Accent was introduced in 1994 for the 1995 model year, it continued to be called Hyundai Excel in some markets, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia.

Also in Indonesia, the first, second and fourth generation Hyundai Accent sedans were sold as Excel, Excel II and Excel III. Based from lowest trim level and only sold for taxi companies.