The Car Connection Hyundai Veloster Overview
The Hyundai Veloster is a compact hatchback that's a relative of the Accent small car, but it's more than just a hatchback derivative.
The Veloster's fitted with four doors, but they're not in the usual locations. On the passenger side the Veloster has two doors, but on the driver side, only one. In the back, it's a hatchback. The unusual layout is supposed to help with cargo-loading and wedging passengers into the backseat. It takes some getting used to, and can also seem weird for the sake of weird, since there are few real advantages to the asymmetrical layout.
Hyundai brings several updates to the Veloster for 2016 including new 17- and 18-inch wheel options as well as some interior upgrades.
MORE: Read our 2016 Hyundai Veloster review
Based on the latest Elantra sedan, but fitted with the 1.6-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine from the smaller Accent, the Veloster was the first vehicle in Hyundai's lineup, globally, to offer the company's dual-clutch transmission. Its handling is very good (thanks in part to a different rear suspension geometry and stiffer tune), with impressive grip and poise, though its steering could use better weighting and more road feel, and—some might consider this more of an issue—the engine is sorely lacking in low-range torque. Provided you keep the revs up, the Veloster shows its other, perkier personality.
Hyundai added a turbocharged engine to the Veloster lineup shortly after the model was introduced. It's aimed at those who want more power and a more involving driving experience. It also includes a sport-tuned suspension, revised steering and brakes, and 18-inch wheels and tires. The Turbo nets 201 horsepower and originally offered a choice of a 6-speed automatic or manual gearbox.
While the Veloster's cabin is spacious and airy from the front seat, the back seats are definitely just for children—or very short occupants—as headroom is very limited. Rear seats are best folded down, where they form a flat cargo surface; the hatch is very wide-opening, although there's quite a tall liftover at the back.
The Veloster comes with a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, built-in Gracenote display technology, and a USB port to connect and access iPod media via voice controls. XM NavWeather and other data services are included with a premium sound system, as are a rearview camera and backup warning system, and navigation, keyless ignition, and a 115-volt outlet are included if you get a fully loaded Tech Package Veloster. Even then, a fully loaded, normally aspirated Veloster is priced in the mid-$20,000s.
Veloster Turbos start with a base price of just above $22,000. In addition to the turbocharged engine, this model includes more standard equipment: heated front seats, leather seating surfaces, a 450-watt stereo, and Hyundai's Blue Link mobile connectivity system, which provides things like audio streaming and voice control. A panoramic sunroof and navigation are bundled in a package that brings the price of an auto-equipped Veloster Turbo past the $26,000 mark.
The 2012-2013 Veloster is one of a set of vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers. The EPA has tested both model years and lowered its gas-mileage ratings, to a maximum of 37 mpg highway for the Veloster, and 35 mpg for the Turbo. Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com. For our own real-world take on the car, including its gas mileage returns, read our 6-month road test.
Hyundai added a Turbo R-Spec Veloster model for 2014 for shoppers interested in taking their asymmetrically doored machine to a race track. Compared to the regular Turbo model, the R-Spec offers a stiffer suspension, a unique steering calibration, and a short-shifter from B&M. It also does without a few features, like the proximity key, the fancy instrument cluster, turn signals in the side mirrors, and heated leather seats.
The Veloster changed only slightly for 2015. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels were added to the Style Package, and the Technology Package gained automatic climate control.
Hyundai has announced a round of updates coming to the Veloster for 2016. All models get a revised front-end look, with a much larger grille and a new hood. The 7.0-inch infotainment system has been improved, with the addition of the latest Hyundai Blue Link features and Siri Eyes Free functionality. The Veloster Turbo receives a new 7-speed dual-clutch automatic as an option, replacing the former 6-speed automatic. And there's also a new Rally model, which goes above and beyond the R-Spec with stiffer suspension tuning, a B&M Racing sport shifter for its 6-speed manual, lightweight 18-inch RAYS wheels, and unique matte blue paint.
The Veloster is likely nearing the end of its product cycle, and it may be a tough model to reimagine with a second generation. Whether or not it returns likely hinges on how well this first model was received. Hyundai has shown several mid-engined Veloster concepts, and the company has been spotted testing mules with this configuration, but there is no word whether such a performance-minded car would reach production. If it did, we'd expect it to replace the front-engine version and not be built along with it. That change would certainly help the car live up to its sporty image, although it wouldn't do much for versatility.