2012 Hyundai Veloster Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
See the nominees and vote »
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
September 21, 2011

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster starts with niche appeal, but its impressive handling and strong, high-value feature set should play well to the mainstream.

The all-new 2012 Hyundai Veloster is at once more practical and more adventurous than a typical sporty coupe—punctuated, from the outside, by an unusual three-door layout that features a larger door on the driver's side and two smaller doors on the passenger side.

Underneath, the Veloster borrows some of its underpinnings from the Elantra sedan, yet a redesigned, retuned suspension gives it a more nimble and confident feel on curvy roads—even though we're still not wild about the steering. Powering the Veloster is a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that, paired with new six-speed manual or six-speed Dual Clutch automatic transmissions, returns up to 37 mpg on the highway. This setup's Achilles Heel is that it, quite simply, lacks low-rpm torque—leading to a rather gutless feel from a standing start. Get the engine revving, however, and the attitude of the car really perks up.

The Veloster works multiple angles, attempting to charm discerning younger vehicle shoppers with its unique formulation of hip urban design, a sporty driving feel, reasonable comfort, and enough features to satisfy and entertain a crowd that's always connected.

Review continues below

In keeping with that pitch, Hyundai has priced the Veloster low enough—and wrapped enough standard features into it—to cause serious market upheaval among those selling small, sporty coupes. With a base price of $18,060, the Veloster includes a standard USB/iPod interface, RCA inputs, Bluetooth hands-free, and GraceNote music display technology that lets you request music with voice commands. Hyundai's BlueLink suite of services is also included, in a trial subscription, and options include a huge panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, upgraded wheels, and a 115-volt outlet.

9

2012 Hyundai Veloster

Styling

You'll look like a trend-setter almost anywhere in the new 2012 Veloster—but you sure won't feel like a fashion victim or elitist.

The 2012 Veloster was conceived to be part sports coupe and part versatile hatchback, with a dash of something a little more adventurous and hints of sportbikes (motorcycles, that is), and the entire design speaks to that—although the Veloster can appear a bit more daring and 'out there' from the outside than it feels from inside. And in all, we consider the design of the 2012 Veloster to be one of this year's best.

Hyundai opted to make the Veloster a three-door coupe, with one on the driver's side and two on the passenger side. The rear door isn't quite normal-size; it's a bit smaller, and hinged at the front, unlike some previous efforts like the Mazda RX-8.

Perspective has a lot to do with how you see the Veloster's exterior, we found. From some angles, the Veloster appears to have the roofline of an abbreviated sport coupe, while from the side we see an unmistakable (yet more rakish) likeness to the Kia Soul, which also has blacked-out A-pillars and a roofline that peaks at the top of the windshield. And when seen from the back—or up above—the Veloster looks like a sexy grand-tourer—further enforced by the chunky wheelwells and just-perfect proportions. The available fog lights, further piano-black accents, and blacked-out moonroof help complete the look.

From the front, the Veloster looks most like the Elantra sedan, with which is shares a common foundation. But the blacked out lower airdam can be seen as the type of sinister grin you might carve into a jack o’ lantern—especially when you’re looking at a Veloster that’s the Boston Red (burnt-orange) hue, which is, by the way, only one of many American Apparel-like colors including Electrolyte Green, 26.2 Yellow, and Vitamin C.

While the Veloster flaunts it a little bit on the outside, there’s nothing ironic or faddish about the interior; what you get is an interior that truly blends some of the racy feel of a sports car with the versatility of a hatchback. Inside, too, Hyundai looks to sport-bike design—especially in the details of its instrument-panel center stack, which takes cues from motorcycle fuel tanks. A big engine-start button sits at the bottom of the stack’s V—and just ahead of the shift knob—on all except the base model, while air vents are meant to look a bit like the ends of bike tailpipes and the floor console has hints of a bike saddle.

7

2012 Hyundai Veloster

Performance

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is no sports car, but it’s genuinely a sporty drive.

The 2012 Veloster is powered by essentially the same engine as the 2012 Hyundai Accent—a 1.6-liter in-line four making, with dual continuously variable valve timing. That engine is mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or, in what's a world first for Hyundai, a new six-speed Dual Clutch (DCT) automatic, which aims to provide quicker shifts and more driver control than a conventional automatic.

The engine's 138 horsepower output might seem impressive and more than enough, considering the Veloster's under-2,600-pound curb weight, but with a lack of low-rpm torque—as well as rather tall gearing with either transmission—this small car can feel sluggish from a standing start. But once revs rise—especially up to the 4,000-rpm range and above, the Veloster feels much quicker; whether you opt for the manual or the DCT, you'll be putting a lot of your right foot (and revs) into it to power away from lights and corners.

Between the two transmissions, there isn't a bad choice. The DCT pulls off shifts just as quick and responsively as the Ford unit in the 2012 Ford Focus and Fiesta, only it’s more composed at low speed. Hyundai has dialed in a fair amount of 'idle creep,' so when you lift off the brake it gently engages clutch and moves forward slowly just like an automatic. Hillstart Assist Control is also included, to keep the Veloster from rolling back before uphill starts. Manual Velosters have nice, progressive clutch takeup, though the shifter throws are still a little long and tight.

Get the Veloster out on a curvy road, where you can keep the engine at a boil, and the story gets much, much better. The Veloster can handle really well—phenomenally well—putting it a league above the Elantra sedan, with which it shares substantial pieces of body structure and chassis, and really up to snuff with Mazda3 and Mini Cooper—both of which have more harshness than the Hyundai. In addition to a stiffer front suspension tune, the secret is a completely different rear-suspension design: a V-torsion beam configuration, including an integrated (and large) 23-mm stabilizer bar, plus monotube shocks—in all, a huge improvement over the Elantra’s twist-beam-axle rear.

What this means is that you can really throw the sub-2,600-pound Veloster around tight corners, yet it stays composed and doesn’t heave with secondary motions over less-than-perfect surfaces. Make a quick transition, and it simply hunkers down evenly, shifting its weight with no snap but an even, predictable attitude.

Hyundai’s electric power steering isn't quite what we'd hope for in a sporty car—it's a little artificial and overdamped, so you lack much road feel—though it is reasonably well-weighted, and turning diameter is better than any other small, sporty coupes, at 34.1 feet. 17-inch H-rated rubber is standard, while V-rated 18-inch performance tires are available—both on stylish alloys. Brake feel is excellent, with confident four-wheel discs, anti-lock and Brake Assist.

6

2012 Hyundai Veloster

Comfort & Quality

Don't expect to use the back seat of the 2012 Hyundai Veloster very much, but in most other respects its interior is refined, quiet, and versatile.

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster might be best-described as a sport coupe, but compared to virtually any other vehicle on the market that's close to as small and shapely, it's considerably more comfortable (and versatile) inside.

Despite the Veloster's sleek roofline, it's just fine for taller drivers and front passengers—including those well over six feet. Seats are adjustable for height but not tilt, and there's a lot of headroom to work with. The moonroof does swallow up an inch or two, though.

While that back door might be inviting, think of it mainly as auxiliary loading, and don’t plan on trying to pack two adults (or even skinny teenagers) back there. It's better than the backseat in any 2+2 for legroom, but the headroom issue was insurmountable for pretty much anyone over 5’-9” or so.

Yet from the front seats, the Veloster feels unexpectedly airy and spacious—thanks largely to the roof's tallest point, which is just at the top of a rather high windshield (and the car tapers back from there). In terms of EPA interior volume—which, in all fairness, we’ve not found to be a very good gauge of how roomy an interior actually feels or is—the Veloster is best in class. But in this case, the Veloster really does feel quite a bit roomier inside than the tC, and much more so than the CR-Z.

The cargo area requires a surprisingly high liftover, but it’s deep and spacious, and the hatch glass doesn't become too much of a liability. Detach the cargo cover and flip the seatbacks down, and you have a pretty low, flat cargo area. It’s not quite flat, though almost. Smaller storage spaces are provided throughout the interior. There’s a large center-console compartment, split into two, and rather large door pockets that are separated by a divider.

The Veloster also shows promise as a decent vehicle for weekend trips and longer highway hauls; in an initial drive, we noticed surprisingly little road noise, with only a slight bit of wind noise at the top of the front pillar as we neared 80 mph.

8

2012 Hyundai Veloster

Safety

The 2012 Veloster is likely one of the safer picks among sporty coupes.

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is an all-new vehicle and hasn't yet been crash tested by any major safety organization (stay tuned for updates). But the outlook is good, as it does borrow some of its structure from the Hyundai Elantra, which is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and Hyundai's recent models in general have shown strong.

Feature-wise, the Veloster includes a generous array of standard items, including electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, and six standard airbags—including front seat-mounted side and side-curtain bags covering front and rear occupants. Backup warning sensors and a rearview camera system are available, too, and DCT models get Hillstart Assist Control, to help keep the vehicle from rolling backward on standing starts up steep inclines.

Also included is the Blue Link telematics platform. Much like GM’s OnStar, BlueLink. BlueLink includes a suite of safety services like Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance and SOS Emergency Assistance.

10

2012 Hyundai Veloster

Features

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster has exactly what tech-savvy shoppers—on a tight budget—will truly appreciate.

With a base price of just over $18,000—including destination—the 2012 Hyundai Veloster already looks like a strong deal. But factor in all the standard features that come included and it's an even better deal—especially when you line its features and pricing up against other affordable sporty coupes.

In typical Hyundai fashion, the 2012 Veloster is only offered in a single, well-equipped model. And considering the Veloster’s always-connected, no-compromises target buyer, there’s really not a thing missing (although for the time being, some will notice the lack of available heated seats). A seven-inch touch-screen display is—gasp—standard, as are Pandora internet radio capability, Gracenote display technology (song, album, artist), RCA inputs for video-game console connectivity. A Bluetooth hands-free interface—rapidly becoming expected, even in this class—is standard, too, and voice-recognition controls apply to both Bluetooth and Gracenote media playback—via an attached iPod, for instance.

Also included is the Blue Link telematics platform. Much like GM’s OnStar, BlueLink. BlueLink includes a suite of services like Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance, SOS Emergency Assistance, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance; but at a higher subscription level it also includes turn-by-turn directions capability.

The high-end audio system comes with integrated XM Data services, including XM NavWeather and XM Stock Ticker. And with the optional navigation system, the Veloster offers a rearview camera system and backup warning sensors.

Buying and ordering a Veloster is going to be very simple, with a limited number of builds. Just two option packages, Style and Tech, will be offered. With Style, you get larger 18-inch alloys, the panoramic sunroof, leatherette seats, leather trim, alloy pedals, an upgraded Dimension audio system, and fog lamps; and the Tech Package adds backup sensors, painted wheel inserts, a nav system, push-button start, and a 115-volt outlet. Oddly, an auto up/down driver's side window is only included if you order the whole Style package. Otherwise, one of the most significant price choices is the Dual Clutch (DCT) automatic gearbox, which runs $1,250 more than the manual.

8

2012 Hyundai Veloster

Fuel Economy

With up to 37 mpg on the highway, the 2012 Hyundai Veloster is far more fuel-efficient than other sporty coupes.

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is rakish, sporty vehicle, but it doubles in purpose as one that's not only quite versatile but also very fuel-efficient. And with tall gearing and six-speed transmissions, the Veloster is set up for good gas mileage.

In brief early testing, we saw about 32 mpg overall in nearly 120 miles in a DCT car, then about 30 mpg over about 80 miles in a manual car—in both cases including some very enthusiastic driving and steep hills.

Official ratings have changed since the 2012 Veloster was new. It's one of a set of vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers, an issue uncovered in a routine confirmation test by the EPA. Initially, the Veloster was rated at 28 mpg city, 40 highway for the manual version, while the dual-clutch automatic was pegged at 29/38 mpg, both with a 32-mpg EPA Combined figure.

Upon testing, the EPA has now rated the Veloster at 27/37 mpg for the manual, or 31 mpg combined; it's 27/35 mpg or 30 mpg combined with the automatic.

Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com.

Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
USED PRICE RANGE
$5,992 - $15,499
Browse Used Listings
in your area
8.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 9.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 6.0
Safety 8.0
Features 10.0
Fuel Economy 8.0
Compare the 2012 Hyundai Veloster against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Hyundai Veloster?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used