May 18, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Friday, 04 January 2013 11:06
Daring yet functional styling, Hyundai value and reliability, a new turbocharged engine … could the Veloster be the best new product the Korean automaker has introduced since the acclaimed Sonata? Yes, it probably could be, but it isn’t. The Veloster, likable in many ways, doesn’t quite clear the high bar Hyundai has set for itself.
The debut 2012 Veloster was equipped with a mild-mannered, 138-horsepower engine that’s well suited to the equally mild-mannered Accent and Elantra sedans. This model clearly needed to be more sporty, and Hyundai delivered by adding a 201-horsepower turbocharged-four as an option. So equipped, our 2013 Veloster turbo test car did step out more smartly than the 2012 model we drove last year.
But the Veloster isn’t quite there yet. The ride is still harsh on bumps and expansion joints, though fairly compliant on smooth roads. And the turbo, while providing a more invigorating driving experience, exacts a substantial fuel-economy penalty compared with the standard engine. Turbos, driven gently, should offer about the same fuel economy as a normally aspirated power plant. Hyundai’s doesn’t. The standard engine’s fuel-economy ratings are 2 to 6 highway mpg higher, depending on whether it’s tested with a standard or automatic transmission.Our stick-shift Veloster turbo delivered about 32 mpg in mostly highway driving.
A year after its introduction, the Veloster still turns heads. Its sloped roofline creates an illusion of speed and performance. Its most fascinating feature, though, is the asymmetrical arrangement of its doors: a long coupe door on the driver’s side, two sedan-style doors on the passenger’s side. As we noted last March, this setup not only improves the Veloster’s people-moving capability, but it has a positive effect on visibility out both rear quarters.The Veloster also has a deep, roomy cargo compartment with 15.5 cubic feet of space.
No one buys a Hyundai to be different anymore. This car is as different as different can be, yet avoids being gimmicky by offering functionality to go with its superficially quirky appearance.The back seat, unfortunately, is unaccommodating for tall passengers, owing to the low roofline. But for a couple with one child, the design is far preferable to that of a conventional coupe.
The Veloster has been a strong seller for Hyundai in its first year of production, exceeding 25,000 units sold. It delivers on the familiar Hyundai promise of high value for a low price: $24,600 for our well-equipped turbo model. (The base 2013 Veloster starts at $17,450.) Its features included leather upholstery, backup camera, satellite radio, navigation system, and the usual array of interactive and plug-in features popular among young drivers. The broader impression is one of high quality, style and thoughtful ergonomics.
Crash-test and reliability data on this new model are not yet available. Other Hyundais, including the Elantra on which the Veloster is loosely based, have acquired a reputation for reliability.
Engine: 1.6-liter inline turbocharged Four, 201 horsepower, 195 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 6-speed standard
Weight: 2,800 lb.
Suspension: Four-wheel independent, MacPherson strut front, torsion
Wheels: 18 x 7.5-inch alloy
Tires: P215/40R V all-season
Seating capacity: 4
Luggage capacity: 15.5 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons
Fuel economy: 24 mpg city, 35 mpg highway
Fuel type: Regular
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