2016 Hyundai Veloster Review

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
June 28, 2016

The 2016 Hyundai Veloster is a tough one to classify, but it is what it appears: part sports coupe, part sensible hot hatch, and a lot of quirky.

There's something adventurous and daring at work in the proportions of the 2016 Hyundai Veloster, something present here that isn't in most other car designs. It's not quite beautiful, but if you want different this is your ticket. The design is nothing like anything else on the road, including the Hyundai Elantra and Accent form which it borrows parts.

Part smartly packaged hatchback, part quirky sport coupe, part "activity" vehicle, the 2016 Veloster mashes up several vehicle types at once. It's fair to say the Veloster is like nothing else in the Hyundai lineup—and nothing else on the market, really. 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.

And the parts somehow go toward a little more driving enjoyment in the Veloster than they do in those humble sedans. The Veloster comes with a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter inline-4 engine teamed with either a 6-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic. Both transmissions are good enough for us to say that you should leave the pick of those to personal preference. It's a little short on torque off the line, so if you crave performance to go with a coupe-like style, you should get the Veloster Turbo. There, a twin-scroll turbocharger helps it generate 201 hp in all, a 195 lb-ft blast of torque on tap at low engine speeds, and a choice between 6-speed manual and paddle-shifted automatic transmissions. The Turbo is good for 0-60 mph times of about 7 seconds or less—without that much of a dip in gas mileage.

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The more focused performance model of the lineup is the Veloster 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. Keyless ignition 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.

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.

Inside, the Veloster pitches plenty of conventions overboard, mimicking a coupe at times and a hatch at others. In 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, and the Veloster definitely doesn't add up as a four-person commuter. It's far more at its best with the seats flipped down for weekend gear and the various cubbies, bins, and nooks used for smaller items.

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, a rearview camera, 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 2016, the Veloster gets a new 17-inch alloy wheel design, as well as a new 18-inch wheel option. Black-bolster seats with yellow inserts are also available, and the base audio and infotainment system now has a 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, HD Radio, Apple Siri Eyes Free integration, SiriusXM Travel Link, and next-gen Blue Link telematics functionality.

The non-turbo versions of the Veloster get good gas mileage with either transmission—nearly as good as fuel-efficient compact sedans. It's rated at 27 mpg city, 35 highway, 30 combined with the manual, or 28/36/31 mpg when equipped with the dual-clutch automatic. 

Veloster Turbo models are only a little less efficient. The Turbo is rated by the EPA at 25/33/28 mpg with the manual transmission; but rises to 27/33/29 mpg with the automatic.

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2016 Hyundai Veloster

Styling

In concept and design, the 2016 Hyundai Veloster is part sport coupe, part practical activity vehicle—and it pulls off the mix nicely.

The 2016 Hyundai Veloster is a lot of things, all at the same time. By design, it's some sporty coupe and a stylish oddity, with some of the functionality of a versatile five-door thrown in the mix.

While we can name plenty of vehicles that have tried to be genre-benders in such ways and failed to pull it off, either visually or functionally, the Veloster succeeds, for the most part.

The Veloster is more than a coupe, as it has two doors on the passenger side and a single, larger one (like a true coupe). On the passenger side, the rearmost door is short, so it preserves the curvaceous roofline but allows just a little more practicality. While we're not sure whether to call this a three-door or four-door hatchback, it piles on the personality.

Thankfully, Hyundai has gone easy on the trim and adornment; the roofline, profile, and innovative layout are enough themselves. But Hyundai has made the Turbo stand out from the other models, with LED lighting front and rear, a piano-black grille treatment, and some side skits.

The Veloster is maybe a little less of a trendsetter inside, yet it's decidedly sporty. Hyundai looked to motorcycles for some of the inspiration—there are hints of a saddle in the center-console design, while the air vents are meant to look like the ends of tailpipes—and in general the design keeps it simple. A big engine-start button sits at the bottom of the center stack’s V—and just ahead of the shift knob—on all except the base and Turbo R-Spec models.

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2016 Hyundai Veloster

Performance

The 2016 Hyundai Veloster is no sports car; but it does have the look and feel of a sporty, fun-to-drive small car.

The Veloster has some humble beginnings, with powertrains based on the Hyundai Accent and some underpinnings borrowed from the Elantra; but Hyundai has done a great job engineering and tuning this offbeat little coupe to mostly live up to the sportiness and performance it hints of on the outside.

At the base level, the Veloster is powered by the same 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter inline-4 that's used in the Accent. But it's a little more exciting even at the beginning, as you get to pick between either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a dual-clutch automatic. Both of these are good enough for us to say that you should pick whichever one better suits your needs and wants. Keep in mind that this engine is a little lacking in off-the-line torque, yet it happily revs.

In the Veloster Turbo, a twin-scroll turbocharger boosts engine output to 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, most of which is available at low engine speeds. You can choose from a manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel paddle-shifters, and the Turbo cuts 0-60 mph times down to around seven seconds.

In Turbo models, you do get stronger brakes as well as stickier tires—which adds up to better dynamics, if the road surface is smooth enough. Brakes are excellent in the Veloster and Veloster Turbo, although we're not fans of the electric power steering here, which lacks proper weighting and feedback.

In the Veloster R-Spec model, you get a stiffer suspension than the Turbo model, different steering tuning, and a B&M sport shifter. There's definitely a sacrifice of some comfort, but not much of a performance gain compared to the regular Turbo.


 

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6

2016 Hyundai Veloster

Comfort & Quality

The Veloster is more useful as a coupe, as you have less rear-seat space and tougher access versus anything with four doors.

The 2016 Hyundai Veloster has a layout that's far from conventional; yet it packs in an unexpectedly high level of usefulness and versatility—even compared to small cars its size with one more door.

But like the doors, passenger comfort isn't distributed evenly throughout the vehicle. The Veloster is spacious up front, even with the available sunroof or panoramic roof, which reduce head room slightly. If you're tall, you'll fit just fine in the Veloster's front seats, which adjust to a wide range of sizes (despite the lack of a tilt adjustment for those seats' lower cushions). Turbo Velosters have heated leather front seats, and an eight-way-adjustable power driver seat.

The back seat in the Veloster is just large enough to be useful, but you may end up conflicted about that extra side door, as we did after a six-month extended drive with a Veloster. It's a tight back seat, for sure, and getting in and out is difficult with the narrow door opening. It's better instead to think of the car as a versatile two-door hatch, with rear seats that fold down easily to create a very useful cargo area.

One versatility demerit is that the rear liftover height requires lifting items pretty high to get them into the otherwise useful hatch. Inside and throughout, there are plenty of bins, cubbies, and nooks for stowing away smaller items.

The Veloster rides about as comfortably as any short-wheelbase car can, and Turbos don't fare much worse for their bigger 18-inch wheels and Kumho Solus tires. Wind noise can be an issue on the highway, however.

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2016 Hyundai Veloster

Safety

A rearview camera helps with dodgy visibility, yet the Veloster is an underperformer in some crash tests.

The Hyundai Veloster carries a mixed set of information with respect to safety. While there's a good set of features, its occupant-protection ratings aren't quite top-tier.

All Veloster models carry a long list of safety features, including electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, and six standard airbags. Models equipped with the dual-clutch transmission get hill-start assist, to help keep the vehicle from rolling backward on standing starts up steep inclines. A rearview camera system and a driver's blind-spot mirror are included on all models.

The 2016 Hyundai Veloster is a relatively low-sales model, and it's unusual for such a model to have crash tests from both the federal government and the IIHS.

However, it isn't all good news. The IIHS rates the Veloster as "Marginal" in the small frontal overlap test and "Acceptable" in side impacts. It earns the top "Good" rating in the remaining three categories.

In NHTSA testing, the Veloster earned five stars overall, with four stars for frontal impact and rollover.

Hyundai's Blue Link telematics platform is also included. BlueLink includes a suite of safety services such as emergency crash notification and SOS services.

Backup warning sensors 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 arrangement.

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2016 Hyundai Veloster

Features

The feature set for the Veloster includes all you'd expect in a small, affordable car, and more—including great connectivity.

The Veloster offers a great list of standard features, for a base price that remains well under the $20,000 mark. And for 2016, Hyundai's made the Veloster's feature set better.

For 2016, the Veloster gets a new 17-inch alloy wheel design, as well as a new 18-inch wheel option. Black-bolster seats with yellow inserts are also available, and the base audio and infotainment system now has a 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, HD Radio, Apple Siri Eyes Free integration, SiriusXM Travel Link, and next-gen Blue Link telematics functionality.

Turbo models this year add an exclusive 18-inch machined-finish wheel design, plus more aggressive bolstering for the front seats, with orange accents. There's also a new electroluminescent gauge cluster, and Turbo R-Spec models sport red seatbelts.

In the Turbo model, in addition to the stronger engine and steering, stopping, and suspension improvements, it gets a host of add-ons. They include heated leather seats, LED headlight accents and LED taillights, a 450-watt audio system and 18-inch wheels. Automatic climate control is optional on the Turbo, and daytime running lights are a standard feature across the model line.

The Turbo also makes some package equipment standard, including parking sensors. The available navigation system and panoramic sunroof are options in an Ultimate Package. A special matte finish remains available in the Turbo as well.

If you opt for the edgy Turbo R-Spec, you'll do without some features. Keyless ignition 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 as compared to the regular Turbo.

Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system is standard on all Velosters, and brings some upgrades for 2016. Similar in concept to GM’s OnStar, BlueLink uses existing databases to provide directions and information for drivers via voice requests, and also includes safety services like automatic crash notification including emergency assistance, and roadside assistance. Turn-by-turn navigation is available on higher subscription levels. As part of the BlueLink suite of services, the Hyundai Assurance Connected Care service is included for three years regardless of the level of subscription.

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2016 Hyundai Veloster

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Veloster achieves the ratings of compact sedans, yet looks and feels a lot racier.

While the 2016 Hyundai Veloster mates urban-runabout utility with a sporty shape, it tends to offer fuel efficiency that's more in pace with economy-car models. That's a strong selling point for this little multi-tasking wonder, which is fairly composed on the road, and that balance extends to its fuel efficiency.

The non-turbo versions of the Veloster get good gas mileage with either transmission—nearly as good as fuel-efficient compact sedans. It's rated at 27 mpg city, 35 highway, 30 combined with the manual, or 28/36/31 mpg when equipped with the dual-clutch automatic.

Over a six-month period with a base Veloster, we recorded observed fuel economy of about 30 mpg.

Veloster Turbo models are only a little less efficient. The Turbo is rated by the EPA at 25/33/28 mpg with the manual transmission; but rises to 27/33/29 mpg with the automatic.

Because of the Turbo's higher torque, Hyundai doesn't offer its efficient dual-clutch automatic on the more powerful Veloster.

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January 13, 2018
2016 Hyundai Veloster 3-Door Coupe Automatic Turbo

Amazing car on the highway, okay in the city.

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Awesome and fun car to drive. Automatic 7 speed DCT is sometimes not very responsive, but drives much better in sport mode.
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October 27, 2015
2016 Hyundai Veloster 3-Door Coupe Manual Turbo R-Spec

No Regrets 2016 R-spec

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Im super happy with my new veloster. It's fast, comfortable, and gets a lot of looks. I have a 6 year old who loves having her own door and she sits comfortably in the back. The sound system is amazing and I... + More »
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Styling 9
Performance 8
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Features 9
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