2012 Hyundai Veloster Tech Package
2012 Hyundai Veloster Tech Package. Click image to enlarge
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Manufacturer’s web site
Hyundai Canada

By Paul Williams; photos by Chris Chase

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2012 Hyundai Veloster

Most of the cars reviewed by auto writers fit into familiar categories. There are sedans and coupes, wagons and hatchbacks, economy through to luxury, and they are small, medium or big. There are variations on these themes, but overall, it’s pretty straightforward.

But every once in a while, something comes along that challenges the status quo, like maybe the Toyota Matrix of a decade ago, or a Mazda5, for instance. And very rarely something pulls up to the curb that is really radical.

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is such a vehicle; radical, yes, but in a good way.

2012 Hyundai Veloster Tech Package
2012 Hyundai Veloster Tech Package
2012 Hyundai Veloster Tech Package. Click image to enlarge

The Veloster (a name that for some reason doesn’t quite work), is a front-wheel drive three-door hatchback based on the subcompact Accent platform, although it is closer in size to the compact Elantra. It uses a new direct-injected 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque (also found in the 2012 Accent), mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The fun thing about the Veloster is that it’s really three cars in one: a coupe, a coupe-shaped sedan, and a hatchback.

Approaching from the driver’s side, there’s one large door, as you would find in any coupe. From the passenger’s side, there are two doors of sedan-sized proportions; and at the rear, a full-hatchback to access the cargo area. Of course, the rear seats fold to expand that area, as you would expect in a hatch.

The Veloster, wearing Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” styling and taking cues from the world of sport bikes (motorcycles), is targeted at a younger buyer, and indeed its rich colours and sporty profile should appeal to this demographic. But I think its fresh lines, practicality and excellent value will endear the Veloster to a much wider audience, and here’s why.

Starting at $18,999 for the manual transmission version ($20,399 for the automatic), and rising to $22,499 for the manual transmission version with Tech Package ($23,899 for the automatic), the Veloster throws down the gauntlet to other manufacturers when it comes to standard equipment.

2012 Hyundai Veloster Tech Package
2012 Hyundai Veloster Tech Package. Click image to enlarge

The “base” car, for instance, includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear-view backup camera and seven-inch touch-screen display with Gracenote, Bluetooth connectivity, heated seats, satellite radio, air conditioning, iPod interface, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise control, proximity key with push-button start, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, four-wheel disc brakes, chrome dual centre exhaust outlet and fog lights. Vehicle stability control is standard on all 2012 vehicles, so it’s got that, too.

Fact is, I think this level of standard equipment in a car at this price is unprecedented.

But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more…

With the optional Tech Package you get 18-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, navigation system, premium audio, leatherette seat bolsters, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, alloy pedals, automatic headlights and a 115-volt outlet.

So the Veloster hits a home run when it comes to features, standard equipment and versatility. But what about driving it day in and day out?

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