I recall the times in the early 90s when cars all looked the same – every sedan felt squarish, like they had four pieces of metal welded together without any curves, and their boots slammed shut with a metallic ‘clang’ instead of the solid ‘thud’ you hear on the average sedan now. Hyundai was no different – just that I felt they took a longer time for their cars to evolve and take shape.
Back in the days, Hyundai was rumoured for its unimpressionable quality – cars that didn’t last long, breaking down more often than you polish it, or simply just riding like a horse instead of what a sedan is supposed to feel like. But with years of engineering and design, it has eventually emerged with its new sleek design, which was first implemented on the i45 (albeit it not being that popular still), and subsequently, onto the all new 2012 Elantra.
But it has not stopped there.
In fact, in what I would term a bold move by Hyundai, this ‘used-to-be-laid-back’ automobile company has brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘coupe’. Mention a roadster to anyone and one would think: oh, two doors and a boot! But the newest baby of Hyundai has refuted this definition. The all new Veloster is probably the most distinctive vehicle in the Hyundai range, and I dare say its class.
If you’re expecting this review to be comparable to the usual literature-based Torque or CAR magazines, sorry to disappoint – I’ve decided to adopt a more upfront and straightforward approach (after all, this is a blog, no?) So, let’s hop in, and get started!
The most unique feature you’d notice about the Veloster is the presence of a third-door on the passenger side. Hyundai claims it is all about safety – that passengers should enter/exit the vehicle on the side of the kerb, and not step out to get smashed by another oncoming vehicle. As much as it does look weird (being the only car on the market with such a door), this probably is a daring move to stand out from the rest of the ‘hatches’ and ‘coupes’ such as the Scirocco or the RCZ. And if you’re not careful or observant enough, you’d think that the third door can only be opened from inside, thanks to a concealed handle at the tip of the ‘designer door’, or what I like to call it.
Despite this feature making it a comfortable 4-seater, I must emphasize that this car operates at optimum performance as a 2-seater. Why so? Not about the performance or fuel economy wise, but simply due to the fact that it is terribly uncomfortable to get into the back seats. At slightly short of 1.7 metres, I am considered an average height guy, and I always never fail to bump my head even if I bend down low enough to get into the back.
So, if you’re taller than 1.7, I’d say – it’s going to be awkward.
With the launch of this new ‘coupe’, Hyundai has also taken another step in dousing it with striking colours, such as the Vitamin-C orange you see here, or even a more popular version sitting in the colours of a bright yellow bumblebee. If you’re not that keen on standing out in the crowd, perhaps the metallic black (which I feel just looks like another ordinary Elantra on the roads), or maybe the apple-green might do for you. What’s interesting on this colour feature is that the 18-inch rims comes with the exact matching colour to the car body. Stripes on the spokes reflect the colour of your Veloster, bringing out an additional touch of boldness.
And in what I’d say is an effort to inject the tinge of sportiness into this coupe, Hyundai has intelligently included two makeshift ‘vents’ in its bonnet. From afar, this would look like another air-vent which will help cool the 1,591 cc engine, but no. Look closer and guess what? It’s sealed. Just for show, they say.
And there’s the design of the central exhaust, which honestly, reminded me of the Lamborghini Aventador. The exhaust is twin-barreled and coated in chrome, following claims by Hyundai that this gives the Veloster the “abundance of sporting character”.
The Veloster is one coupe packed with features, and probably one of the best equipped sports coupe at that price range (of course, don’t compare it with an M3 or an E-coupe). Best of all, these features come as standard equipment, not optional. For the price tag you pay (which is probably sky-high thanks to COE), you get an integrated reverse camera, panoramic sunroof, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth capabilities, keyless-entry, and even a multi-function steering wheel complete with cruise control.
Gone are the days where a key is needed to slot into the door and turn it to unlock a car. With the new keyless-go, a simple touch on the door’s handle button will unlock the car, and another simple push on the “Start/Stop” button just below the central console will bring the 140 horses under the bonnet to life.
While it still features the standard “P-R-N-D” console sequence, I took the liberty in giving myself a more ‘adventurous’ ride by meddling with the built-in paddle shifters at the back of the steering wheel. If you prefer a more ruggard experience, the Veloster also allows you to ditch the paddle shifts for the “steptronic” indicators on the gear shift lever. Then again, I must maintain my grouse about Japanese/Korean cars in general (with the exception of Mazda), that their “+” and “-” directions are on the wrong side, as compared to continentals where the upshift “+” takes on the downward direction, a more common-sensible approach.
In the first of its line, the Veloster also features a multi-functional coloured information touch-screen (the TFT screen) at the center of its driving console. At 7 inches, this rainbow screen captured my attention, and is considered the “brain” of the car, housing every single feature like radio, audio settings, reverse camera, Bluetooth settings, and even an amusing game that allowed me to beat my own fuel economy ‘high score’ on the road!
And then, there’s the boot space. For those banking on large boot spaces so that you can practically move an entire house inside your car, forget about it. This car carries one full sized golf bag at most, together with a few pieces of small luggages here and there.
Here comes small little minute details and features that you perhaps will not notice. Hyundai now offers the option of shutting your car up when reversing. Yes – by the touch of a small button at the side of your steering wheel, you can disengage the reverse sensor alarm, and solely rely and concentrate on parking your car based on visuals you get from your mirrors and the reverse camera. Not a wise idea for those who are too dependent on the beeps.
For those who have tested the Veloster on its original Multi-Point Injection (MPI) D-CVVT engine, the 130 horses and response you feel ain’t doing justice to the car. With the new Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) version, the Veloster indeed feels a notch up in performance as compared to other cars in the family such as the Elantra or even the i45.
The first ever Hyundai dual clutch transmission throws out 140 horses and this is evident in the usual acceleration away from the lights, or even a shift down in gear to overtake that road hogger on the expressway. Power is instantaneous at the blip of the accelerator or even a flick on my paddle shift, one that indeed took me by surprise, considering how slow my Elantra reacted to a jerk from gear 6 down to 5 just to overtake that lorry ahead.
At a predicted 6.2 litres per 100 kilometers, it is significantly more thirsty than others in its family class. There are no evident reports that 98 octane might boost the performance of the GDI, but if you’re hoping for sheer power, no harm trying. As drivers will always say, “98 is for the power, 95 is for the pocket”. You can’t have the best of both worlds, can you?
Based on the few hours I had with this beauty, I also found out that the economy of the Veloster proves to be best while cruising at speeds ranging from 80 to 120 km/h, as compared to that on the Elantra of around 70 km/h. It proves great for a relaxing night drive as you unwind after a hectic day at the office, listening to either music from your iPod, or simply just indulging in the low growl and roar of the GDI engine (which I must say, does sound good especially after 5,000 rpm!)
The car comes with stock 18″, which are a tad special thanks to its matching spoke colours as mentioned earlier. Hyundai maintains that 18″ rims are the best for economical driving on the Veloster without compromising on power and ride.
Ride and handling
Coming over to how it feels inside the Veloster, it is not as what I would have expected. Rides over humps are generally too hard, though I would concur this adds to the “sportiness” of the vehicle.
The disturbing fact, however, comes from the road noise that you get while travelling at high speeds. The insulation of the car isn’t that fantastic, though I must say it is good for its class, and comparable to at least its immediate competitor, the Scirocco.
At just 1.34 metres tall and having a wheelbase of 2.65 metres, the Veloster also has a significantly low ground clearance, which proves to be an advantage when it comes to cornering at speeds above 60 km/h. The steering feedback and feel is impressive, which is rather important I feel. Without that, you’d just feel like you’re flying an airplane cruising in the winds.
Aerodynamically, the car’s design is a masterpiece, with the low profile of the body reducing drag and lowering its fuel consumption as it cruises through the wind. There is an additional rear spoiler at the back to boost driving stability, though I would always maintain that is quite redundant unless you’re talking about supercars like the Veyron or the MP4-12C.
At S$116,888, the Veloster is indeed enticing for projecting a futuristic and cool image on the roads. The list of standard equipment stretches beyond your imagination, and the performance is indeed remarkable for its size and engine specifications. You may compromise a little bit in terms of ride and handling, but I must say it definitely is worth it.
Of course, comparing to a continental Scirocco, this may not be the ideal car, although it was launched partly to compete with the former. The Volkswagen might just fare better in some aspects, but in terms of design, features and pricing, the Veloster might just make a better choice.
The Veloster might not live up to your expectations as a perfect and awesome sports coupe, but I dare say for most of us, it certainly is beyond what we would, and could have expected from Hyundai.