It’s part hot hatch, part sports coupe, making the Veloster all things to all people.
An identity crisis isn’t causing any confusion for buyers of the Hyundai Veloster. Simply put, the Veloster is part hatch and part coupe, with a regular driver’s door and a pair of ports on the passenger side.
This dual nature gives it an edge over the Toyota 86 as the most popular sports vehicle sold to date this year.
However, in trying to be all things to all people, the Veloster fails to nail either the sports coupe or hot hatch genre. These days near enough is more than good enough when you can deliver in two segments.
Early SUVs were likewise criticised for not being a real 4WD or a real passenger car — yet buyers are still besotted with the high-riding crossovers.
An opening quote of $24,990 gives the Veloster a tick on price. Series II of the quirkily styled car adds a much-needed dual-clutch transmission for the turbocharged SR versions, which start at $29,990. Replacing the six-speed manual with the seven-speed auto is a $2500 proposition.
Hyundai’s “two-door style, three-door access” line is pretty apt. The pseudo-coupe lacks the overt sportiness of the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ twins or Mazda MX-5 but trumps them with ability to take two adults in the rear for decent trips.
Rear access from the driver’s side involves the typical gymnastics expected in a coupe but from the kerb side it’s a far more modest proposition. The third door isn’t huge but it is a huge help when loading kids or elderly relatives.
The Series II updates amount to a revised front and rear bumper. Interior tweaks reserved for the turbo variants include an electroluminescent instrument cluster and colour-matching of the seat belts, door and centre console trim and steering wheel stitching. Blue leather interior highlights are reserved for those who part with another $1000 for the “Blue Sprinter” matt paint.
The Hyundai is in its element in the urban jungle where a near city-car size and decent low-down turbo shove mean you push through traffic with little effort. The boot isn’t huge but at 320L will deal with most of the weekly shopping duties — the rest can go on the rear seats.
CarsGuide still isn’t a fan of the double-bubble rear window that’s bisected by the spoiler. It is a signature design cue but, along with the chunky roof pillars, doesn’t do much for rearward vision.
The local suspension tuning has paid off in improved compliance on patched roads and it is benign as buyers could hope for on inner-city runs.
On the road
The trick to getting the most out of the Veloster is to keep the turbo on boost without bothering to climb too high into the rev range. With 265Nm to push it along, the Veloster is capable of cruising quickly and there’s plenty of grip from the 18-inch rubber.
Push too hard and it will want to plough straight on entering a corner. The torsion beam rear end can still kick on mid-turn bumps but this trait isn’t as pronounced or prolific as it was with the previous model.
The good news is the electric power steering has been revised to improve the feel; the bad news is the three-mode “FlexSteer” toggle still artificially weighs up the tiller without giving any more feedback.
The straight-line numbers don’t do the Veloster SR justice. In manual guise this car is good for a 7.2-second sprint from rest to 100km/h but the dual-clutch auto adds 0.6secs — Hyundai still has work to do on its in-house developed transmission, given it should be able to shift cogs faster than a human.
Tackling a favourite back road with some vigour, the Veloster can be a spirited drive, though it ultimately lacks the pace of rivals.
The stability control nanny doesn’t do the car any favours, intervening swiftly and savagely when it determines accelerator pressure and steering lock aren’t compatible. This isn’t a case of muting the available power so much as emasculating it — in a playful car, I expect more play from the software.
The Veloster and its ilk are increasingly straddling two segments on the basis it is better to be an all-rounder than a one-dimensional expert. With its unconventional looks and endearing (if not enthusiastic) drivetrain, the pseudo-hatch exemplifies next-generation motoring.
What it’s got
The Veloster SR is fitted with a seven-inch touchscreen, rear-view camera, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and alloy pedals.
What it hasn’t
The revised model range means niceties such as satnav, sunroof, heated/cooled front seats and climate-control are now reserved for the Plus versions. In the case of the turbo, that adds $4000.
A five-year/unlimited km warranty helps seal the deal and capped price servicing every six months/7500km amounts to $1254 over the first six visits. Glass’s Guide predicts a solid resale value of 63 per cent after three years.[“source-carsguide”]