Colouring outside the lines
Give the Veloster designers a kid’s colouring book, and I’m willing to bet they’re no better at staying inside the lines than I am in the dark after too much caffeine and not enough sleep. In my case, it’s complete dysfunction; in their case, it’s brilliance.
Although I appreciate the out-there design of the compact Veloster, I’m not a big fan of it, even if the sled looks better in the metal than on paper. Like the looks or not, Hyundai deserves recognition for breaking-away from convention, and for keeping the price of nonconformity remarkably conformable.
Lots of content and too many doors – or not enough?
Coupe purists may see three doors as one too many. Whatever. The third door is curbside, providing un-coupe-like access to the Veloster’s two-occupant rear seat.
From my perspective, the extra portal is very useful. Otherwise, it would be easier to climb through the neighbour’s dog door and strap their hyper collie to a kitchen chair than strap a kid or two into child seats in the rear of the Veloster.
The third door and rear seating that accommodates two average-sized adults gives the Veloster an edge over many of its competitors. The dazzling array of technology and content included as standard equipment further hones that edge.
In Canada, the Veloster’s base tag of $18,999 includes a 7-inch touchscreen multimedia interface with rearview camera, six-speaker AM/FM/XM CD/MP3 audio, Bluetooth hands-free phone connect, iPod/USB/auxiliary input, air conditioning, push-button start, heated front seats and more.
The base model also gets fog lamps, heated exterior mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear wiper/washer and tinted glass. And let me say again: $18,999. The base MSRP brings with it the base transmission; but it’s a slick-shifting six-speed gearbox I couldn’t get enough of.
Toss in another $1,400 and Hyundai’s new six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is substituted for the manual mixer. I have yet to test Korea’s version of this German technology but I’ve heard only good about it so far.
With only one engine available, performance options are limited
It’s no secret that the Veloster is built upon the foundation of the Hyundai Accent — and that’s not a bad thing other than that the Accent isn’t renowned as a powerhouse, and therefore neither is the Veloster. Both vehicles utilize the same 1.6L DOHC I4 GDI engine. It fortifies the Veloster with 138 hp @ 6,300 rpm and 123 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm. Not bad numbers for a light-weight, compact ride. Somehow though, the numbers don’t translate into performance as effectively as expected.
The Veloster doesn’t come alive much before the tachometer finds its way north of 5,000 rpm, and it’s a long way to get there, but the manual gearbox is rewarding, thanks to precise shift with shorter throws than many gearboxes in far more expensive rides. While the engine is refined and sounds good, it doesn’t induce heart palpitation or sweaty palms.
Although 0-100 km/h sprint times in the 8 to 9-second range are somewhat relaxed, the Veloster proves itself in the corners where its spirited handling inspires and rewards. With steering response that’s immediate, sharp and nicely weighted, the Veloster is exceptionally stable and composed when pushed hard through direction changes. These qualities clearly won out when the Automobile Journalists’ Association of Canada (of which yours truly is a voting member) named it 2012 Best New Sports/Performance Car Under $50K this fall.
For hotheads wanting more fire beneath the hood, be patient; a turbocharged version of the 2013 Veloster is scheduled to appear this summer. Whether the turbo mill will be as frugal with fuel as the present powerplant remains to be seen — hopefully, it will be.
The 2012 Veloster is rated at 7.0 L/100 km and 4.9 L/100 km city and highway driving respectively when equipped with the dual-clutch automatic transmission. The six-speed manual gearbox returns equally good economy on the highway but city driving drops slightly to 7.2 L/100 km, which is negligible in the big picture.
The Veloster is funky, sporty and compact — but most of all it’s fun and frugal while also being practical thanks to a third door and generous rear cargo bay. The mold-shattering Hyundai isn’t a road rocket by any stretch yet the car inspires with tenacious handling characteristics and a fun-factor that lend cred to the name “Veloster.”