Montreal, QC. It doesn’t happen very often that my opinion of a car changes or evolves a short while after I’ve driven it. I’m usually pretty set in my thoughts after handing the keys back and headed towards my keyboard to write my story. For whatever reason, the all-new 2019 Hyundai Veloster has been brewing in my mind for over a week now. All this to say that I think I like it more now than I did after the drive.
The Hyundai Veloster is an easy car to dismiss, and on many levels. Without touching on all the points, the fact that it’s a Hyundai and not a Honda or Volkswagen hurt its street-cred, its low sales volume and quirky odd-ball styling don’t do it much good either – This is what was going through my mind at the time. Now, these three points have become pros, and this is barely scratching the surface of what makes a Veloster, a Veloster.
The “lows” you need to know
Odd way to keep things going I suppose but if you’re in the market for this car, there are some clear and present issues that need to be shared.
If you’re buying the 2019 Veloster because you love to drive a manual transmission car, the Hyundai’s shifter is slick, but heel-and-toeing is tricky as the pedals are narrow and fairly far apart. It can be done but requires some technique and practice. You might get annoyed after a while and you’ll need to consider purchasing aftermarket pedals.
The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is very efficient but unlike many automatics of the type, it doesn’t provide any performance driving advantages over the manual despite the four drives modes (normal/sport/eco and smart) compared to the 6M’s two (normal/sport.) Also, under hard acceleration, the car suffers some aptly named torque-steer; it’s not terrible but it’s there. Most drivers will find this unpleasant especially if you enjoy street-light racing…
I generally prefer cloth seats, but both my driving partner and I found that they lacked lumbar support after only half-hour into the drive. The leather buckets have driver-side power lumbar adjustment which in a way makes the basic $20,999 Veloster less attractive. The least expensive Veloster with leather seats is the Turbo Tech with the manual transmission for $28,899. The upside is that you were probably looking at a Turbo anyhow and it retails for $25,899. The Tech package does include the slightly annoying tilting-smoked-plastic-screen heads up display which works in the end…
Everything else is a high, almost
New for the new 2019 Hyundai Veloster is a new (to many news?) Atkinson-cycle 2.0-litre that produces 147 horsepower. It replaces the previous under-achieving normally-aspirated 1.6-litre and although I suspect the 2.0-litre would be a high, I wouldn’t know as Hyundai saw fit to only supply us with 1.6-litre turbo cars. The reason is simple as by the tail end of the first generation of the Veloster, the Turbo accounted for roughly 80% of all sales. They expect that this will be the case with the new car.
The 1.6T is popping good fun. It generates 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,500-4,500 rpm. There’s also an overboost function that boost peak torque to 202 lb.-ft. under maximum acceleration for a few moments. It’s around this time when torque-steer shows especially when you’re attempting to launch the car. This lack of relative “refinement” is perhaps one of the things I love most about the new Veloster.
Lots of little car
The new Veloster now shares a platform with the Hyundai Elantra GT and is 20mm longer and 10mm wider than previously. The suspension has been tweaked, lightened and the multi-link rear setup, once reserved for the Turbo, is now standard with both engines. The mild unsprung weight-loss and stiffer architecture make for a lively and agile car. On the topic of weight, the Veloster tips the scale at scarcely 1,300kg. With the now quicker electric steering, the experience continues to be entertaining.
The Veloster’s tossable nature is plenty good on the standard Nexen rubber but you must opt for the $500 Performance Package. It includes attractive “B-Type” 18” alloys with superb Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. They might be noisier and stiffer than the Nexen, but the value proposition is so good you could sell the Michelins after a few months and get most of your money back all the while keeping the wheels! Seriously, these tires unlock the little Hyundai’s true potential.
Whether you select the base car or the Turbo, either way, you’re getting an expressive mode of transportation. At $20,999, the Hyundai Veloster still has more standard kit than is probably legal in some countries. At this price, the front seats and steering wheel are heated, there’s a 7” touchscreen, Bluetooth, and other goodies. An extra $4,900 lands you the 1.6T, partial leather seats, huge sunroof, LED headlights, a large 4.2” cluster display, keyless entry with push button start and more.
What doesn’t really change is the car’s overall exterior look. The differences between the base and Turbo are the wheel design (base are nicer…), single center exhaust pipe for the base, dual for the Turbo, grille, side skirts and paint schemes. Both get a far more evolved and attractive body, especially in the rear where the new LED taillights clearly have some Lamborghini in them.
The third passenger side rear door is what makes, or breaks, the Veloster. It might enable easier access to the snug rear quarters, but it deranges the car’s symmetry. I can deal with its originality. The trunk is far more capacious than expected at 565 litres. As with the entirety of the car, the cabin is unique but far from cheap. The dashboard is loaded with design, textures and lovely attention to detail.
After writing this, I sense that I really need more time with the Veloster. It might not be a VW GTI or Honda Civic Si but that’s because it’s a Veloster.