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- A cohesive design like no other
- More practical than pure sports cars
- R-Spec realizes Turbo's potential
- Impressive Blue Link is standard
- Can be sluggish with base engine
- Good gas mileage
- Steering can be vague; on Turbos, heavy
- Ride can be choppy
- Dual-clutch automatic should have snappier shifts
The 2017 Hyundai Veloster is a economy-car cake pop: it sounds like too much, but its hatchback sensibility really does taste better dipped in a layer of quirk.
Daring and adventurous, the 2017 Hyundai Veloster puts four doors in unconventional places on its hatchback-sleek body. Two in front, one in the back—and one door on the side—are an attempt to give tight-fitting compact coupes some of the ease of use of a liftback.
The Veloster and its rip-snorting twin, the Veloster Turbo, win on some fronts. The shape is still electric after four years on the road, and the space under the rear glass gives it utility that no sport coupe can match. It's still not blessed with adult-sized back seats, and its safety scores have lagged as it has aged.
At best it can feel like a no-compromises coupe for young singles and couples; at worst it's not really a master of any of those roles.
We give it a 6.3 out of 10, with credit for its looks and its features, and a demerit or two for crash-test scores and its skimpy rear bench. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Hyundai Veloster styling and performance
The Veloster is a mashup of a couple of body styles, and to our eyes, a successful one. It mixes smart hatchback packaging with coupe lines, and factors in an extra passenger-side door for easier rear-seat access. It's like nothing else on the road, and that unique look makes it difficult to compare it with vehicles similar in concept--say, a VW GTI. The cabin's Hyundai's usual: a good mix of materials and interesting shapes, with no huge, glaring flaws.
The Veloster's humble mechanicals, on loan from the Accent and Elantra, do higher work here. A 138-hp, 1.6-liter inline-4 connects with manual or automatic gearboxes to give base Velosters a perky economy-car feel. The Veloster Turbo blows out that engine with twin-scroll turbocharging to the tune of 201 hp, sent to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed paddle-shifted dual-clutch.
The Turbo is good for 0-60 mph times of about seven seconds or less—without that much of a dip in gas mileage. Fuel economy clocks in as high as 31 mpg, for dual-clutch, non-turbo Velosters.
Handling in base Velosters won't be confused with a Golf, or any hatchback with a more fluid ride. It's composed, but the far more interesting Turbo has the grip to match its grin-inducing power. Bigger wheels give the ride a brittle quality—and with the even stiffer Turbo R-Spec, there's little payoff.
We're not wild about the Veloster's 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.
Veloster comfort, safety, and features
The Veloster plays off both walls, coupe and hatchback, in terms of interior space. Up front, it's quite spacious for two, even with the available sunroof or panoramic roof. But in back it's more playful than practical. Entry and exit are challenging through the small door, unless you have that space in mind for kids. It's at ease with the back seats flipped down and stuffed with weekend gear, with its cubbies, bins, and nooks crammed with smartphones and water bottles and the like.
The Veloster includes a generous list of standard features, all for a base price of well under $20,000. Upgrades on the Turbo model, which starts around $23,000, include leather seats, big wheels and tires, and more. Options include a huge panoramic sunroof, upgraded wheels, and a 115-volt outlet. As part of the Blue Link suite of services, the Hyundai Assurance Connected Care service is included for three years regardless of subscription level.
For 2017, Hyundai has added HD Radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto to the Veloster's standard touchscreen infotainment system.