Half hatchback, half running back, the Hyundai Veloster dares to be a lot of things all at once. Sporty coupe? Check. Versatile five-door? Almost. It's actually a four-door, since the two doors on its passenger side aren't quite match by the single, longer one on the driver side.
That perfect imbalance gives the Veloster acres of personality. It's daring in a way no small, sporty coupe has been in ages. Remember the CRX? Its eggy exterior was nothing shocking compared to the slip-on sports-shoe stance of the Veloster. There's something adventurous and daring--something like a sport bike or a motorcycle--at work in its proportions and laid-back stance that telegraph all sorts of active-lifestyle signals in a way today's dull Civic and GTI and WRX just can't, despite their arguably superior performance. It's such a standout design, the basic Veloster needs very little applique to change itself into Turbo drag--just some piano-black grille gloss, some side kit, some LED trim front and back.
Perspective has a lot to do with how you see the Veloster's exterior, we found. 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.
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.
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.