Veloster Makes Driving More Fun | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 04 October 2012 13:32

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Veloster is the sixth vehicle in Hyundai’s 24/7 version 2.0 product initiative (7 new models in 24 months), on the heels of the all-new Tucson, Sonata, Equus, Elantra and Accent.

By Steve Schaefer

San Leandro Times

The Hyundai Veloster is a unique sporty compact. I sampled a bright-yellow example last February and found that it mixed practical virtues with reasonable economy and a bit of agility and fun.

Now, for 2013, buyers can choose the much-awaited Turbo version. While the original car made do with a modest 138-horsepower 1.6-liter four, this one, thanks to its twin-scroll turbocharger, delivers 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque from the same displacement. It still manages to average 30 miles per gallon (26 City, 38 Highway); I averaged 29.2 mpg, including a lot of stop-and-go commute driving. The non-turbo model has an average rating of 32 mpg, so there’s little loss for all the increased oomph.

While my first Veloster looked sunny, this one, in Ultra Black, seemed more menacing. It wears a body kit and spoiler as well. The Veloster is not a blend-in kind of car in any shade, with its huge mouth in front and long stretches of headlamp above it. The detailing sets the car apart, including the complex architecture of both head and taillamps (which look really cool at night) and the twin exhausts close to the middle below the rear bumper.

100412a2Inside, the different lines, shapes and textures make it feel like you’re having fun, even when sitting in traffic. You sit low, sports car style, and the six-speed manual transmission offers a greater feeling of control. The trip through the gears is a treat and the shift knob feels comfortable in your hand.

A seven-inch multi-media touch screen greets you with an ascending tune and a glamour shot of the car each time you turn on the ignition. The Dimension Premium audio system works easily and sounds fine, although I wish the USB port was located in a hidden spot, such as the console or glovebox. I had to keep plugging and unplugging my iPod when I parked. The touch screen is simple to use on the go, although, like many cars, the shuffle feature for your iPod has to be reset each time you turn it on.

My tester featured Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, which not only offers various safety, service and information features, but enables contact with your car remotely from your smart phone. It’s worth reading more about it online at www.hyundaiusa.com/technology/bluelink. The buttons are on the mirror; I accidentally called Blue Link while setting the day/night feature.

The turbo adds a lot of power, but the car doesn’t feel especially fast. Mainly tested in zooming away from metered freeway entrances, I was not pushed back into my handsome leather seat terribly hard, but the car did go where I pointed it easily. The turbo in VW and Audi vehicles, with the same horsepower, feels stronger, although that car’s engine is 2.0 liters. Is it a torque issue?

Hyundai must be applauded for introducing a car that’s fun and is not simply a coupe version of their compact vehicle. Actually, they have a wide range of cars to choose from, and this is neither a subcompact Accent (sedan or hatchback) nor an Elantra (sedan, hatchback and coupe). It’s something else — made most clear by its amazing asymmetrical doors. There are two full-size doors on the right, as on a sedan, and one larger door on the left — like that on a coupe. The pillar is in a different place on each side.

Asymmetry is not a common feature in cars, but this one definitely has it. You can’t see both sides at the same time so it’s easy to not notice this unique feature, especially with the rear door’s handle hidden in the outer corner.

This coupe/sedan is also a hatchback, so you have the advantages of dropping the rear seat and loading it with your stuff. My bass fit in there fine, but, unlike some hatchbacks, the lower edge of the hatch is high (likely for body structural reasons) and I needed to lift the instrument up over it.

The standard Veloster I tested had a base price of $17,300 and came to $22,000. This one base-priced at $21,950, and with the “Ultimate Package” (panoramic sunroof, rearview camera and a few other things) plus Michelin Pilot sport tires ($1,200), added up to $26,520.

Like every Hyundai, this car flaunts “America’s Best Warranty.” This includes five years on the overall car, 10 years on the powertrain, seven years anti-perforation (rust) and five years of unlimited roadside service. This package was originally meant to reassure buyers that they would be well taken care of with this mysterious new Korean brand, but today it’s just a benefit.

The Veloster Turbo offers the best features of several cars — in one — and should be another success story for Hyundai.

 

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