Korea really never ceases to amaze us! For some time, this county’s automakers have been coming out with some very stylish vehicles. While Kia recently surprised us with the introduction of the Optima, Hyundai followed with the launch of the 2012 Veloster, a vehicle that stands out in the automobile landscape. A few years back, when these manufacturers were known only for a good price-to-equipment ratio, no one would have imagined that they would create such bold – or such impressive – vehicles.
As is the case with the new Sonata, Elantra and Accent, the Veloster will definitely help change the public’s perception of Hyundai. Gone are the days when competitors could look down their noses at them. Now, the competition will have to follow the leader.
Built on a slightly modified version of the Accent’s platform, the Veloster marries the style of a hatchback with that of a sport coupe. Designed to please a younger clientele, the Veloster’s recipe for success is its style, technological gadgets and, especially, affordable price. Offered at a base price of $17,999, it is definitely within reach for many people. It’s been ages since we’ve seen such an inspiring and accessible car.
It’s hard not to fall for the model’s sporty and unusual lines at first sight. This is a vehicle that turns heads and really stands out from the other cars on the road. The Veloster is a three-door coupe, but strangely, the third door is not the hatch. Rather, the third door is located on the back right and opens like a passenger side door, facilitating access to the back seats. This very unique feature makes for an asymmetrical design, but you really have to look carefully to notice. The designers have literally managed to make this door disappear in the car’s lines, to the point that you’ll wonder why they didn’t simply add a fourth door on the driver’s side.
As for the rest, the car looks like a little race car that’s ready for action. It’s ultra-dynamic, with flared fenders, a plunging roofline and chiselled lines, not to mention the plethora of aesthetic features that enhance its style. The most striking of the bunch is its eagle-eye headlights and its hexagonal front grille. On some versions, this visual package also includes 18-inch rims with spokes painted the same colour as the body. The nicest part is definitely its tail end, with the rear spoiler integrated in the hatch and the twin exhaust located in the middle of the car. Basically, it’s impressive to see such an affordable car with so much personality.
A new dual-clutch transmission
Mechanically speaking, the Veloster inherits the same engine as the Accent, namely a 1.6-litre four-cylinder with direct injection that develops 138 horses at 6,300 rpm for a torque of 123 lbs-ft at 4,850 rpm. This engine sends power to the wheels via a factory standard six-speed manual transmission, but for $1,400, you can equip it with the first ever dual clutch sequential transmission offered at Hyundai. In the case of the Veloster, this new transmission’s reduced fuel consumption – not superior performance - justifies its presence. With its 138 horses, the Veloster’s power won’t knock your socks off, the manufacturer’s primary objective was making an economical model. In this regard, it’s a job well done, since the Veloster is announcing fuel consumption figures of 4.9 L/100 km on the highway. We’re talking fuel consumption that is similar to that of many hybrid vehicles.
Inside, the Veloster features surprisingly good quality assembly. Regardless of where you look, you’ll like what you see, notably the titanium accents and the metallic pedals. The rear hatch is tilts toward the passenger compartment and combines with the large panoramic sun roof to give the impression that the roof is made entirely of glass, which enhances the overall look. Basically, you won’t feel like you’re in a cheap car. Because of its unique design, the rear visibility seems limited, but fortunately, this is not the case. You see well, mainly because the field of vision is directly in the centre of the hatch window. Only the ¾ visibility is dreadful...
In order to attract a tech-savvy clientele, Hyundai didn’t skimp on the gadgets. The 7-inch touch screen, the voice recognition system, the USB jack and the Bluetooth connectivity all come factory standard, while real diehards will be able to enhance everything with, in particular, a navigation system, a higher performance audio system and a rear back-up camera. The only thing missing is an automatic climate control.
Perfection is just an engine away
On board, you’ll quickly find a good driving position thanks to the numerous seat settings and the telescopic steering column. The seats are comfortable and offer good lateral support. Everything in the Veloster will make you feel like you’re at the wheel of a dynamic and relatively high-performance car. Its steering helps direct the car with ease, its suspension promotes handling and ensures good balance in turns, and its large wheelbase and reduced height place it squarely on the asphalt. What’s more, the 1.6-litre engine’s 138 horses don’t seem to fit with the car’s aura. The manufacturer obviously emphasized affordability and fuel economy, which has left us wanting.
During our test drive, we drove in a mountainous region and frequently had to downshift from sixth to fourth gear to drag the power out of the engine and to avoid having the car’s behind us right on our bumper. Fortunately, although the manufacturer doesn’t want to confirm it yet, a higher performance version with a supercharged engine should be offered, which will give the current version a little more oomph. Then, those looking for economy will be satisfied and those wanting an engine that lives up to the Veloster’s aspirations will have their wish granted.
We were very impressed by the Hyundai Veloster’s overall qualities. It features breathtaking style, offers all the equipment your heart desires and its price makes it a veritable bargain. Another winner from Hyundai!