- Sport-shoe design sensibility
- Way more practicality than most sports cars
- R-Spec realizes Turbo's potential
- Blue Link is standard, impressive
- Great grip and poise
- Tight back seat
- Sluggish off the line (base engine)
- Steering can be vague; on Turbos, heavy
- Ride isn't always delightful
- Dual-clutch automatic should have snappier shifts
The 2015 Hyundai Veloster is more sporty hatch than true sports car. Its design is sometimes a demerit, but that makes it no less unique.
The 2015 Hyundai Veloster is a sporty, smartly packaged hatchback with quirky, semi-futuristic design. Versatile, fun, and practical, the Veloster can also feel compromised—a jack of many trades, but master of none.
At the heart of the Veloster is its truly unique door layout. On the driver's side, there's a long door like one you'd find on a coupe. The passenger's side features two smaller front-hinged doors, while a useful hatch aids loading of large items in the rear. The design is nothing like anything else on the road, including the Hyundai Elantra and Accent form which it borrows parts. The exterior styling is distinctive, even if it's not everyone's cup of tea.
Inside, the Veloster continues the trend-bucking theme, mimicking a coupe at times and a hatch at others. The Veloster is quite spacious up front for two, even with the available sunroof or panoramic roof. As for the back seat and that extra side door, they're more playful than practical. Anyone larger than a child is going to find it tight back there. The Veloster just isn't meant to be a four-person commuter; think of it instead as a versatile two-door hatch, with rear seats that fold down easily to create a very useful cargo area. And there are plenty of bins, cubbies, and nooks for stowing away smaller items.
At the base level, the Veloster comes with a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with either a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic. Both transmissions are good enough for us to say that you should leave it to personal preference. It's a little short on torque off the line, but its EPA highway fuel economy of 37 mpg highway is excellent, and we saw more than 30 mpg in an extended test.
Go for the Veloster Turbo and it's a different story entirely; it packs a twin-scroll turbocharger, helping it generate 201 hp in all, a 195-lb-ft blast of torque on tap at low engine speeds, and a choice between six-speed manual and paddle-shifted automatic transmissions. The Turbo is good for 0-60 mph times of about 7.0 seconds or less, with just a slight dip in gas-mileage numbers.
Hyundai also offers a Turbo R-Spec model, which is aimed at people who want to be the only ones at a track day with mismatched doors. Relative to the Veloster Turbo, the Turbo R-Spec gets a stiffer suspension, different steering tuning, and a B&M sport shifter. Sportier interior trim and special badging are also included, and it's offered in just a few colors.
To complement the turbocharged engine's greater power, Turbo and Turbo R-Spec models get stronger brakes and stickier tires—which helps improve the Veloster's handling in general. We're not wild about the electric power steering; it's low on feedback, and weighty when it doesn't need to be, but it doesn't disrupt the Veloster's generally flat, crisp cornering, which gets unsettled only if it's pitched over bad sections of pavement.
At a base price of well under $19k, the 2015 Veloster stands out for its generous list of standard features. Audio features on all Velosters include a USB/iPod interface, RCA inputs, Bluetooth hands-free, and GraceNote music display technology that allows you to request music with voice commands. Upgrades on the Turbo model, which starts around $23k, include leather seats, big wheels and tires, a rearview camera, and more. Options include a huge panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, upgraded wheels, and a 115-volt outlet. Daytime running lights are a standard feature across the model line. And as part of the Blue Link suite of services, the Hyundai Assurance Connected Care service is included for three years regardless of the level of subscription.
If you opt for the edgy Turbo R-Spec, you'll do without some features. Push-button start and proximity key; the electroluminescent instrument cluster, side-mirror turn signals, and leather heated seats are among the many items deleted in this focused performance model.
There are few changes for the Veloster in 2015. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels have been added to the Style Package, and the Technology Package now includes automatic climate control.