Test Drive – Hyundai Veloster

Between the two Korean automakers, Hyundai and Kia, the latter has always been the one to wear the youthful hat when it comes to car design. That however, is very much not the case when it comes to the new Hyundai Veloster.

One look at the highly stylized front end of the Veloster and the car exudes a flair for the dramatic. Everything from the sharply angled headlamps sporting an overhang to the two-part designed-by-geometry-front-grille to the hood mounted air vents that aren’t actually functional there’s a lot going on when it comes to the Veloster’s design. Ever wonder what car’s in the future will look like? Me thinks Hyundai’s present vehicle lineup holds some clues.

Pseudo air vents are definitely not that cool in my book, but there were at least half dozen people I spoke to during my week with the car that loved the look of them. Looking back, it seems a majority of the Veloster appreciation came from the younger Gen Y crowd. Perhaps I’m too old to fully appreciate a good sporty hatchback/coupe.

With the Veloster the term ‘coupe’ need be used lightly, for the car sports two doors on the passenger side, and a single door on the driver side. Far from being strange, what I discovered was a car that was practical, yet maintained an unexpected coolness about it. Having that rear door on the passenger side meant that friends being chauffeured in the back seat were able to get in and out with dignity and –more importantly– without the hassle of forcing the front seat occupants to step out of the car.

Sensible as the doors of the Veloster may be, the highlight really is Hyundai’s remarkable design choice with this new car. Conservative it is not; made up of a collection of curves, bevels, bulges and swoops the Veloster’s body panels look something akin to a custom tuner show car. Even the design of the 18-inch alloy wheels featuring painted inserts fitted to our test car was nothing short of praise worthy. Keen eyed viewers will also notice that the Veloster features dual trapezoidal exhausts that are integrated directly in to the rear bumper of the vehicle. Not only did I find this an exciting design feature, it also helped me make the realization that Hyundai had really paid attention to nearly every detail of this new car.

Get inside the Veloster, and the story of attention to detail continues along with contemporary design elements. The combination of smoothly finished elements alongside textured material help elevate the look and feel of the cabin to that of a car far above the Veloster’s price point. Our Tech Package equipped test car featured partial leather seats with cloth inserts, with the colour and textural variation it offers, I found this seating option particularly appealing.

The Tech Package really is one of the Veloster’s highlights. Despite the obvious bump in price, it adds on a set of features to an already great platform by upping the wow factor through the use of some very neat add-ons. Front and centre on the Tech Package is a beautifully rendered 7-inch touch screen display which plays host to all of the car’s entertainment options and a very capable navigation system. The included entertainment setup is nothing to ignore either; consisting of a total of 8 speakers along with a dedicated external amp and subwoofer managing a total system power output of 450-watts is impressive in its own regard. Consider that the system can play everything from MP3s on USB keys to streaming wireless audio from Bluetooth connected devices, and it’s no secret that the Veloster knows how to keep its occupants entertained.

Also standard on this package is an 115V power outlet which I found to be a terribly convenient feature. Considering how much time North Americans spend in their vehicles, I find myself wondering why this isn’t standard kit on more of the vehicles on the road today.

Buyers opting for the Tech Package on the Veloster are also treated to what is fast becoming a staple on all Hyundai vehicles: a panoramic sunroof. Making up nearly the entirety of the car’s roof, the massive glass roof allows copious amounts of light into the cabin. A power retractable shade allows drivers to adjust the amount of light allowed in to the cabin or they can opt to slide the roof open to take in a starry night sky.

For my driving style, the biggest drawback of the Veloster is its fairly anaemic powerplant. Available as the sole option is a 1.6L inline-4 cylinder engine putting out 138hp @ 6,300rpm and 123 lb-ft of torque @4,850rpm. Despite my niggles about the lack of power, I’ll whole heartedly admit that the powerplant is more than capable of moving the car around with relative ease while delivering very respectable fuel economy figures. Claimed numbers are 7.0l/100km in the city and 4.9l/100km on the highway for the Veloster equipped with the dual-clutch automatic transmission. Through 600km+ of mixed driving with an often heavy right foot, I managed an average fuel economy of 6.5/100km during my week with the Veloster. For those demanding more power –and subsequently poorer fuel economy– the new Veloster Turbo which sports all the same great features mated to more power should be thrilled.

The base Veloster equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission prices in at $19,499 before taxes and fees, while our tester weighed in at $22,999 for the Tech Package. Tack on $1,400 for either model and you can have a dual-clutch automatic transmission –which isn’t nearly as much fun as the 6-speed stick shifter. Even as a base model vehicle the Veloster is handsomely equipped and more than justifies its price through alluring design coupled with engaging features. For a true treat however, upgrading to the Tech Package is completely worth it for the younger buyer looking for a daily driver that can also double as the weekend getaway vehicle.

Being equipped well enough to be a little bit of everything for nearly everyone while delivering on price and quality earns the Hyundai Veloster a real cool nod from us.

Kanishka Sonnadara is a member of AUTOMOTIVE.alliedfusion.com and can be found on Twitter @autoKsS

 

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