Get in the groove
Posted on: 7th Nov 2012
The Hyundai Veloster is something rather different. It has the stylistic appeal of a coupe, yet features a clever '1+2' body with a cleverly concealed extra side door, offering at least some of the practicality you'd get from a family hatch. There's the option of turbocharged as well as normally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol power and that's what we're looking at here.
Even in this case though, this isn't really a car aimed at driving enthusiasts. Instead, its target market will happily match the style and practicality on offer to tight pricing, a huge kit list and low running costs.
If you think of Hyundai as a budget brand, then you won't be expecting it to have much of a heritage in smart sports coupes. You'd be wrong actually. The Korean company first entered the affordable end of this segment way back in 1996 with a Hyundai Coupe model so appealing that it even out-sold rival Italian competitors in their home market.
Its modern day successor is the model we're looking at here, launched early in 2012 in the UK with normally aspirated power before the turbo version we're looking at here followed a few months later.
But whatever engine you choose under the bonnet, it's a car with a USP rather easy to spot. The so-called '2+1' bodystyle, aiming to offer the looks of a racy coupe with the practicality of a family hatchback.
Only MINI's Clubman has tried this in the past and then only half-heartedly with a driver's-side rear side door that dumped its occupants into the roadway. In contrast, Hyundai's designers have done the job properly, creating separate bodyshells for left and right hand drive markets so the extra doors will always be available to you at the kerbside. Sounds sensible, but the car that clothes them is resolutely sporting.
Racy looks are one thing. Racy roadway performance is another. If you want it in a Veloster, you'll need the 186PS turbocharged version. With this variant, you can cut the 0-60mph time down to 8.4s and enjoy a lot more pulling power - 270Nm of torque rather than the 167Nm offered by the normally aspirated 1.6-litre model.
A quicker-ratio steering rack offers sharper response through the corners. Front and rear suspension teaks allow greater dynamic composure. And wider gear ratios mean less use is needed of the rather notchy six-speed manual gearbox.
Even with all this in place though, you won't find Veloster ownership figuring too highly on the wishlists of trackday enthusiasts. Typical buyers of this car are people more likely to find tyre-smoking tiresome and therefore people for whom less will probably be more when it comes to this Hyundai. They'll like the well-judged ride. They'll appreciate the excellent refinement.
Design and Build
This, we're told, is 'the next evolution of Hyundai's design language'. They call it 'Fluidic Sculpture' and if this really is the way it's going, then future models really are going to look very dramatic indeed. Everywhere on this Veloster, you'll find signs of styling flourish - a grille here, a slash there, with lines, curves, cutaways and slopes busily converging into a surprisingly cohesive end result. From every angle this car seems different.
Ultimately though, it is of course the doors that define this design. We're talking pure sports coupe here on the driver's side. As, at first glance, you might think is also the case when you walk around to the opposite flank of the car. But a closer look reveals this '2+1' design's cleverness. On this side, rather than one long driver's door, you've two shorter ones separated by a central pillar, with the handle for the rear opening artfully disguised in the window frame. Only the MINI Clubman estate has tried this kind of layout before, but with that car, the extra rear door opens behind the driver out into the road.
Market and Model
Once you've properly specified your Veloster turbo, then you'll probably looking at around £25,000 depending on the spec combination you choose. With this in mind, it'll help that this car is very well equipped. Expect to find smart alloy wheels, front fog lamps, LED daytime running lights, auto headlamps, reverse parking sensors, a 7-inch TFT colour touchscreen that can play games from consoles and films from smartphones, a Bluetooth system with voice recognition, a decent quality USB and MP3-compatible stereo with wheel-mounted controls and an aux-in point and climate control. Top models also get larger alloys, black leather trim with heated front seats, cruise control, keyless entry and a large panoramic glass sunroof that looks good but will rob taller drivers of a bit of headroom.
Cost of Ownership
The Veloster's excellent value for money is compounded by some very respectable cost of ownership figures, day to day running costs kept pretty well in check, with the manual model returning a combined fuel economy figure of 35-40mpg and a CO2 return of just over 150g/km. A gearshift change indicator on the dash should help owners get somewhere near these kinds of figures on an ordinary day-to-day basis.
That's not the end of it. Excellent safety and security ratings and a modest cost of repair has seen the Veloster achieve an affordable insurance rating that'll be on a par with mainstream rivals.
The brand's 'Five Year Triple Care' scheme means you'll get an unlimited mileage warranty, five years of roadside assistance and an annual health check for your car from your dealer.
Some cars offer a very straightforward customer proposition. The Veloster isn't one of them. You'll see it being compared to sports coupes like the Volkswagen Scirocco or the Peugeot RCZ but in reality it's nothing like them. What it does offer is a car for the person who maybe has a young family but isn't ready for the vanilla image of a five-door family hatch just yet. Or for a coupe customer more interested in style and practicality than driving on door handles.
Both types of buyers should like this Hyundai very much. The price is right, it's got a great safety record, it's absolutely packed with standard equipment and it looks anything but run of the mill.
Enthusiasts might not be quite so keen but even they should find the Turbo version of this model a fun steer. Choose it and you'll be rewarded by a genuinely interesting machine with a lot more substance than its extrovert styling might suggest.