So, is anyone surprised that Hyundai has gone out and busted through some boundaries again? This company seems virtually unstoppable, turning everything it touches into automotive gold as of late. The new Veloster has a name that is difficult to pronounce right on first attempt, but it only takes one try to like this little car. While the styling may be a little too much for some, it has all the right curves to pique our interest. The recently announced Veloster Turbo has now stolen most of the thunder, but that one’s still a ways off, so let’s focus on here and now. The Veloster is available in a veritable rainbow of colour choices, but we were given a Triathlon Grey example with black cloth interior. On colourful versions equipped with the Tech Package, the wheels are upgraded to 18” rolling stock with body-coloured inserts running through each of the five spokes. Our monochrome tester received black spoke inserts rather than grey to contrast the wheel colour.
With its wide maw and glaring headlights, the petite Veloster looks like it’s going to attempt to swallow you whole. Big fender arches create a wide front end on the car, but it helps direct wind past the wheels to create less drag, so it’s functional as well as stylistic. The Veloster comes packed with a lot of kit inside and out for its measly starting price of $18,999. On the exterior, the base Veloster already delivers 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, and center-mounted exhaust outlet that looks concept-worthy. Moving up to the Tech Package buys you an upgrade to 18-inch wheels with the coloured inserts and a panoramic sunroof.
Of course, the unique selling point of the Veloster is its 4-door hatchback configuration. That’s right, four doors, including the hatch. This is the car that tries to please everyone, including the driver that wants to pilot a sporty two-door coupe, and the passengers that desire easy access into the back seats. To an extent, it does succeed in this mission, becoming a sort of Jekyll and Hyde story in the process. You see, the passenger side of the Veloster hides an extra door; and not a suicide door like some previous 3-door attempts in the industry, but a real independent door. Mind you, with that sloping roofline, you’ll need to warn back seat riders of the low entry point if you value their noggin.
Inside the car, the standard equipment keeps wowing the audience, as even in the base model you’ll find goodies such as a 7-inch touchscreen to handle multimedia activities and display the image from the standard backup camera! Also standard is Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, heated front seats, and push-button start. These are unparalleled features for under $20K. For an additional $3,500, the Tech Package ports more features into the interior such as navigation for that already-present 7-inch touchscreen, two extra speakers for the audio system, and leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob. The front buckets in the Veloster are well-bolstered and perhaps a bit firm, but they hold you in place magnificently during spirited driving exercises.
The biggest drawback of the Veloster is its lackluster performance capabilities. Of course, the forthcoming Turbo will eliminate that issue rather efficiently, but again, we don’t have the Turbo yet. The Veloster now makes do with the 1.6 liter four-cylinder direct injected unit cribbed from the Accent, and it feels exactly the same, except for the fact that the Veloster is actually heavier than the Accent, and therefore, slower. For all the sporting good looks of the Veloster, it seems to be lost when you try to put your foot down. The 1.6L features the same output seen in the Accent, which is 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque. Not exactly monster numbers, but it does play towards impressive fuel economy. However, because of the weight differential, again the Veloster loses this game to the Accent. Throughout our test week of driving, we averaged 8.8 liters per 100 kilometers. The Veloster w/Tech Package and 6-speed manual is rated at 7.2/4.9 (city/hwy), so you can see we fell a bit behind the mark.
So if it can’t win on power or efficiency, what does the Veloster have to compete against its lesser brethren? For starters, much prettier styling. Add to that the substantial amount of standard equipment found in the Veloster, and it makes a pretty decent case for itself. If it were our money being spent, however, we’d most certainly be holding out for the Veloster Turbo.
- Sporty, youthful styling
- Loads of standard equipment for under $20K
We don’t like…
- Performance doesn’t live up to styling
- Lack of steering feedback
- Long clutch travel
Quick Spec Summary
2012 Hyundai Veloster
Triathlon Grey with Black Cloth w/Black Leatherette Bolsters
6-speed manual transmission
1.6 liter I4 – 138 hp / 123 lb-ft
Curb Weight – 1,243 kg / 2,740 lb
50 L tank – 7.2 / 4.9 L/100km (city/hwy)
Recommended Fuel – Regular
Base MSRP – $18,999
Options – $3,500
Destination - $1,495
Total MSRP – $23,994
Options on Tester
- Tech Package – $3,500
Chuck Reimer for Auto Addiction
**Full disclosure: at the time of this writing, this author was on a co-op work term with an automotive manufacturer; however, this press vehicle was driven prior to employment.**