- Awesome sport-shoe sensibility
- Great grip and poise
- New turbo urgency
- Great fuel economy
- Blue Link is standard, impressive
- Back seat space is tight
- Base cars are sluggish off the line
- Steering can be vague; on Turbos, heavy
- Twist beam's occasional ride bumble
The 2013 Hyundai Veloster dances the line between sporty coupe and sports car with features, fuel economy, impressive handling, and newfound turbo power.
The Hyundai Veloster returns for the 2013 model year, with a new Turbo companion. And just as it did last year, for the first time ever, the Veloster continues to prove that risky cars done right are category killers.
The auto landscape's littered with risks that failed to pay off--heaps like the Aztek, Capri, VehiCross, X90. Like those utter flops, the Veloster's a synthesis of different types of vehicles. Unlike those, it's winning on almost every level. It's daring when its competition isn't, and that starts with its grabby, sport-shoe styling, an arresting look that erupts from its unconventional four-door layout--a hatch in back, a driver-side door, and two smaller front-hinged doors on the passenger side. Only in the most generic way does it mimic some of the shapes of the Accent and Elantra that it borrows parts from; it's a distinctive, electric look with lots of disruptive lines and surfaces that never seems to run out of ways to entertain owners and onlookers. And the party doesn't stop inside: Hyundai's gotten so deft at interiors, it's put a V-neck on the Veloster's dash and tucked a big LCD locket in the middle, pitching it way into the future while some other sporty hatches struggle just to make the screen look relevant and useful amid all the clutter.
The Veloster cribs some components from the Accent, starting with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine from the smaller car that puts out 138 horsepower. On base Velosters, it's teamed with a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic that are good enough to leave to personal preference. Acceleration's adequate if a little thin on torque off the line, but fuel economy of 37 mpg highway is excellent. The new performance version straps on a twin-scroll turbocharger for 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--good for 0-60 mph times of about 7.0 seconds or less, with just a slight crimp in gas-mileage numbers.
From the Elantra, the Veloster borrows some front suspension pieces. To blend with its mission and its more compact body, it gets a retuned, redesigned rear-beam axle for more nimble behavior and more confident grip on curvy roads. 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. Braking is strong, even better on Turbos, which get bigger front rotors and stickier front tires--which also amplify the short, stocky Veloster's ample understeer.
Up front, the Veloster's pretty accommodating for a pair of passengers, even with the sunroof or panoramic roof on offer. The back seat and that catchy side door? They're more playful than practical. It's tight back there for anyone of a certain age, more so of a certain height or weight. The Veloster's just not meant to be a four-person commuter. The rear seats fold down to make a useful cargo area, and Hyundai's found lots of niches and nooks for small-item storage.
The Veloster stands out for its lengthy list of standard features and its low base price. The base car's $18,000 sticker 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. For about $23,000, the Turbo adds 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.
2013 Hyundai Veloster
It's not the first Hyundai to break a styling mold--but the Veloster does it with the most conviction.
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.
2013 Hyundai Veloster
A sporty coupe more than a sports car, the Veloster gets a 201-hp boost, but steering still could use refinement.
Hyundai's Veloster shares its base powertrain with the Accent hatchback and sedan, but this year it strikes out on its own with a forced-induction version that pushes its limits.
The four-cylinder's a 1.6-liter, with advanced features like dual continuously variable valve timing and direct injection. It turns in 138 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a novel six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which can perform faster shifts than some automatics while boosting fuel economy.
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. The small-displacement four's output is impressive enough, given the Veloster's curb weight of less than 2,600 pounds. However, we've found it lacks the low-end torque to deliver a brisk launch, especially since both gearboxes are geared tall, to maximize fuel economy. As a result, the Veloster can seem sluggish off the line, though it lightens up and gets more energetic as it lifts revs above 4000 rpm. Zero to 60 mph times are estimated at under 9.0 seconds.
Either transmission is a fine choice, in our experience. Manual Velosters have nice, progressive clutch takeup, though the shifter throws are still a little long and tight. The DCT pulls off shifts just as quick and responsively as the one found in the Ford Focus and Fiesta. Hyundai's feels a bit more composed at city speeds, since they've tuned in more idle creep--the natural slow roll to speed that follows a lift off the brakes. Hillstart Assist Control is also included, to keep the Veloster from rolling back before uphill starts.
Opt for the Veloster Turbo, and acceleration times drop into much more relevant territory, at least as far as Honda Civic Si and VW GTI fans are concerned. The twin-scroll turbocharger boosts the Veloster's output to 201 hp in all, and peak torque arrives way down on the powerband at 1750 rpm. The turbo four thrums to life and stays thrummy, cooperating well with the manual shifter--it has an eerily VW-like, cable-throw feel--or the six-speed automatic that takes the DCT's place. The dual-clutch unit can't handle all the Turbo's torque, so its automatic transmission adopts paddle controls for shifting and a sport-shift mode that adapt just as well to the Veloster's mission. At full rasp and howl, we'll peg the Veloster Turbo's 0-60-mph times at under 7.0 seconds; Hyundai doesn't estimate its own times, and we expect the hardcore enthusiast magazines to generate numbers even below those.
Get the Veloster out on a curvy road, where you can keep either engine at a boil, and the story gets downright involving. The Veloster handles well, better than any other Hyundai, within spitting distance of the Mazda3 or Focus or GTI or Civic Si, though without the final round of polish to steering and ride feel. The Veloster has a fairly stiff front strut setup, twinned with a V-shaped torsion beam and integrated 23-mm stabilizer bar, and monotube shocks.
It's a vast improvement over the Elantra’s twist-beam-axle rear, but not quite as delicately controlled as those other machines and their fully independent suspensions. You can throw the lightweight Veloster around tight corners, yet it stays composed over all but the most broken surfaces. Make a quick transition, and it simply hunkers down evenly, shifting its weight with no snap but an even, predictable attitude. The Veloster rides about as comfortably as those vehicles, or as any short-wheelbase car can, and Turbos don't fare much worse for their bigger 18-inch wheels and Kumho Solus KH25 215/40R18 tires.
The defining trait of the Veloster, turbo or no, is relentless understeer, and that signals the difference between a sporty coupe and a sports car. The line would blur more if the Veloster's electric power steering felt a little less artificially weighted. It can feel overly heavy just off center, though effort tapers and feels more fluid at speed, more so on faster-ratio Turbos. Brake feel is excellent, though, with confident four-wheel discs with slightly larger front rotors on turbo models.
2013 Hyundai Veloster
Comfort & Quality
The interior's refined and exciting, but rear-seat space and access is compromised to the four-door layout.
Call it a sporty coupe, or a hot hatchback--either would be correct, since the wacky Hyundai Veloster has a door at the rear, two on the passenger side, and one on the driver side.
The most unusually configured four-door on the market, the Veloster's more versatile as a result of its layout, but the front seat's still a superior place for passengers, as opposed to the slight, tight back. Tall drivers and front-seat passengers, for example, will fit just fine in the Veloster, even those over six feet tall, because its seats adjust for a wide range of heights (though the base seat doesn't tilt its bottom cushion) and since there's ample head room. The available sunroof shaves off an inch or so of useful headroom, though. Turbo Velosters have heated leather front seats, and a power driver seat adjustable eight ways with lumbar support.
Our advice is to leave the back seat for occasional human use and frequent fold-down duty. The extra side door does make it easier to pack in kids and even slight-framed adults, but the door opening is angled to accommodate the styling, and it's just tough for larger people to clamber in without difficulty. Once they're in, head and leg room won't be plentiful either; anyone over 5' 8" or so will feel cramped in the back.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 Scion tC, and much more so than the Honda 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. Turbos contribute a little more whine and bluster, but not an objectionable amount.
2013 Hyundai Veloster
Visibility is poor, but a rearview camera is standard; no Veloster crash-test data is available. is likely one of the safer picks among sporty coupes.
The 2013 Hyundai Veloster is still relatively new, at least where the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are concerned. Neither of those agencies has crash-tested the Veloster--but the outlook is good, as the hatchback borrows some of its body structure from the Hyundai Elantra, an IIHS Top Safety Pick and one of the NHTSA's five-star winners.
Both the Veloster and its Turbo companion have a generous array of standard safety equipment, 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. Non-turbo DCT models get Hillstart Assist Control, to help keep the vehicle from rolling backward on standing starts up steep inclines.
Backup warning sensors and a rearview camera system are available on the base version and standard on the Turbo; they're a big help, since the low-slung Veloster has huge blind spots to its rear three-quarters, a consequence of its wacky, innovative door treatments.
Also included on all versions is Hyundai's Blue Link telematics platform. BlueLink includes a suite of safety services like Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance and SOS Emergency Assistance.
2013 Hyundai Veloster
With everything from Bluetooth to Blue Link, the Veloster nails connectivity--as a forward-looking hot hatch should.
At just over $18,000, the 2013 Hyundai Veloster is a good value, even before its standard features are factored in. With those compared against other sporty vehicles in the class, it comes into focus as an even better value.The Veloster is offered in two models, base and Turbo, each with option packages. All Velosters sport power windows, locks, and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD player with a USB port; cruise control; air conditioning; and a seven-inch touch-screen display that controls its extensive, standard infotainment system. That setup comes with Pandora internet radio capability, Gracenote display technology (song, album, artist), and RCA inputs for video-game console connectivity. A Bluetooth hands-free interface is standard, too, and voice-recognition controls apply to both Bluetooth and Gracenote media playback, whether it comes from satellite radio or an attached iPhone.
Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system is standard on the Veloster, too. Similar in concept to a degree to GM’s OnStar, BlueLink uses existing databases to provide directions and information for drivers via voice requests, as well as safety services like Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance, SOS Emergency Assistance, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance. A higher subscription levels it also includes turn-by-turn navigation capability. It's patrolled by live operators that ensure the cloud-hosted information is delivered properly; those operators can help if needed, unlike OnStar, where they handle every customer interaction.
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.
Just two option packages, Style and Tech, are offered on the base Veloster. Style models add 18-inch alloy wheels; a panoramic sunroof; leatherette seats; leather trim; alloy pedals; an upgraded Dimension audio system; and fog lamps. The Tech Package adds backup sensors; painted wheel inserts; a navigation 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.
The Turbo commands a $4,500 premium over the base car, with its $22,725 price tag, including destination charges. Above and beyond the base car, it gets a host of add-ons. A sport suspension is standard; so are heated leather seats, LED headlight accents and LED taillamps, a 450-watt audio system and 18-inch wheels.
The Veloster Turbo also makes some package equipment standard, like the rearview camera and parking sensors. The available navigation system and panoramic sunroof are options in an Ultimate Package. A six-speed automatic is an option too, for $1,000, but the base car's dual-clutch transmission isn't offered, since it can't handle the turbo's higher torque. With everything, including the automatic transmission, the Veloster Turbo tops out at $26,225.
The Veloster Turbo also offers Hyundai's first matte paint finish, complete with an owner care kit, priced at $1,000--and paired with the suggestion that only those who like hand-washing their cars should take on the maintenance of keeping the street look scratch-free.
2013 Hyundai Veloster
As green as gas-only hatchbacks get, the Veloster gets up to 37 mpg on the highway, with Turbo versions scoring up to 35 mpg.
From one perspective a sporty, rakish hatchback--and from another a frugal little urban runabout--the Hyundai Veloster is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in its class, thanks to a choice among three different six-speed transmissions.
The non-turbo Veloster is primed for good gas mileage, in either shift mode. But it's important to know that the Veloster's initial fuel-economy ratings have been filed down by the EPA. The manual gearbox at first was rated at 28 mpg city, 40 highway, while the dual-clutch automatic had been uprated to 29/40 mpg as well.
The base Veloster now is rated at 27/37 mpg for the manual, or 27/35 mpg with the dual-clutch automatic.
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.
Veloster Turbo models are less efficient, but manuals aren't as far off the mark as versions with a six-speed automatic. They're now rated by the EPA at 24/35 mpg (down from 26/38 mpg) with the manual shifter, and drop to 24/31 mpg (formerly 25/34 mpg) with the automatic. Because of the Turbo's high torque, Hyundai doesn't offer its efficient dual-clutch automatic on the more powerful Veloster.
Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the extra gas they've used, based on the initial EPA claims; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com.