2012 Hyundai Veloster: 3 Doors, Hip, Economical and Loaded
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
The name evokes images of speed and ferocious dinosaurs. What it delivers is economy, style, innovation and a hip attitude. The all-new Hyundai Veloster is a uniquely designed subcompact coupe with an innovative third door for easy rear-seat access. Its name, according to Hyundai, is a combination of the words "velocity" and "roadster", and while its original target was performance and style-oriented 20-somethings, the manufacturer is now marketing Veloster to a wider audience.
Veloster was designed to be a sporty, coupelike vehicle that delivers fuel economy up to 40mpg at a low sticker price, while being outfitted with a sportbike interior and enough tech inside to please college-age drivers. Assembled in Ulsan, South Korea, the subcompact fills the void left when Hyundai discontinued the Tiburon after the 2008 model year.
Outside, Veloster’s unique take on a three-door design opens easily to accommodate passengers and cargo inside. Its smiling cat front end pays off its inspiration from high-performance sportbikes with distinctive black A-pillars that give the glass a motorcycle helmet visor appearance. In the front is an aggressive form of Hyundai’s signature hexagonal front grille, hood scoop detailing, and distinctive Hyundai-signature LED position lights. Optional packages add a chrome grille surround, Piano Black highlights, fog lights, and a massive panoramic sunroof.
From the side, Veloster is part of Hyundai’s stated “Fluidic Sculpture” design theme, with character lines, muscular wheel arches, bodycolor door handles and mirrors, and wraparound headlights and taillights.
From the rear, the vehicle’s dynamic architecture has a focal-point glass hatch, dual centered chrome exhaust tips and black lower fascia that complement the assertive front fascia. The third door is a surprise. Veloster combines the style of a coupe and the functionality of a hatchback, while also incorporating an additional passenger-side door. Hyundai’s fresh take here implements a conventionally hinged door on the passenger side providing safe and ready access to the surprisingly spacious rear seats. The passenger-side rear door handle is hidden to maintain the coupe design.
Weighing in at a lean 2584 lbs., Veloster measures 166.1 inches long, 70.5 inches wide and 55.1 inches high on a 104.3-inch wheelbase and is relatively low to the ground to provide better handling and road stickiness.
Under hood, the front-wheel drive Veloster utilizes the all-new 1.6-liter GDI Gamma four-cylinder engine paired with proprietary Hyundai six-speed manual transmission and Hyundai’s optional EcoShift dual-clutch transmission. The system is EPA rated 28/40 mpg (manual) 29/38 (automatic) and my tests with a manual set-up yielded an average of 36.1mpg. The powerplant only puts out 138 horsepower and 123 lbs-ft of torque, but that’s enough for the light vehicle to perform well in traffic and up average hills.
At 138 horses, Veloster is not an off-the-line tire burner. The “velocity” in Veloster is only apparent after a long run. The vehicle drives well at speed on the highway and can hit triple digits on the track if pushed, but zero to 60mph is an ordeal at 9.5 seconds and don’t expect to break the mid-17s for a quarter-mile.
However, Veloster is still a fun drive, if you strategize. Its McPherson strut front suspension, coil springs, gas shock absorbers and a 24mm diameter front stabilizer matched to the light-weight V-torsion beam rear suspension with an integrated 23mm stabilizer and monotube shock absorbers for ride comfort provides a tight, road-hugging experience with surprisingly little yaw in tight turns. The sport-tuned electric power steering adjusts instantly to changing driving conditions and response is crisp.
The trendy cabin is larger than one would expect. With seating for four, interior accommodations are 39 inches of front headroom with 35.3 inches in row two, 43.9 inches of front legroom with a tight 31.7 inches for the second row and 55.6 inches of front shoulder room and 54.0 in the back seats.
Interior niceties include air conditioning, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, hands-free calling, 196-watt AM/FM/Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers, iPod®/USB/auxiliary input jacks, 7-inch LG Multi-function touch screen, 24/7 Blue Link™, which offers Location Sharing, Voice Text Messaging, and advanced voice recognition so you can search your music and find points of interest without distraction.
Veloster also offers a full slate of advanced active safety features including six airbags -- dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes and an Anti-Lock Braking System with Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and a sophisticated Vehicle Stability Management system. In the event of an accident, Blue Link with Automatic Collision Notification and Assistance detects when the airbags have been deployed and automatically transmits a signal to a call center that directs help to your location.
Base priced at $17,300 for the 6-speed manual. An automatic 6-speed EcoShift transmission would have added $1250. The style package for $2000 added chrome wheels, panoramic sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel, leatherette seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, Piano Black interior accents, the Tech package also added $2000 and upgraded the wheels with black inserts, a navigational system, back-up warning sensors, push button start and proximity entry key. Add $760 for destination charges and you get a loaded Veloster for $22,060.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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