First Drive: 2012 Hyundai Veloster videos reviews hyundai first drives
2012 Hyundai Veloster. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site
Hyundai Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

Photo Gallery:
2012 Hyundai Veloster

Vancouver, British Columbia – There’s no doubt that Korean carmaker Hyundai is on a roll. Thirty-two consecutive months of sales growth in Canada, and number-one in passenger car sales is proof enough that this manufacturer is building cars that resonate with Canadian consumers.

Hyundai’s recipe for success is a simple one, deftly blending value, engineering, and design in all of the sectors in which the company competes.

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster continues the pattern, but pushes the boundaries. First seen as a concept car at the Seoul Auto Show in 2007 where it wowed visitors, Veloster targets the so-called “Gen Y” sector (late 20s and early 30s), where it should be well-received. But this three-door hatchback coupe, which starts at $19,000 (minus a buck), will likely find a much broader market with its fresh take on affordable and fun transportation.

First Drive: 2012 Hyundai Veloster videos reviews hyundai first drives
First Drive: 2012 Hyundai Veloster videos reviews hyundai first drives
2012 Hyundai Veloster. Click image to enlarge

Where to begin?

First, I think, with the looks. In short, Veloster simply looks terrific. It’s not wild or bizarre, but the rich colour options coupled with a racy shape blend the familiar with the unexpected to create an eye-catching and very appealing package. I think a lot of people will see one, and they’ll want one. It’ll be that simple.

Then there’s practicality. As mentioned above, the Veloster is a three-door hatchback coupe, which means there’s one coupe-sized door on the driver’s side and on the passenger side there are two smaller (four-door sedan sized) doors that open conventionally. It’s a unique arrangement, with seating for four, and rear seats that fold down to add cargo space accessible via the handy rear hatch.

Third: standard features. The Veloster is loaded, even in “base” trim. Six-speed manual transmission; power windows, doors; air conditioning and cruise control; rearview camera and seven-inch high-resolution touch-screen display with RCA input, Gracenote and voice activation; XM satellite radio; audio system with four speakers and iPod/aux interface; fog lamps; proximity key with push-button start; heated seats; Bluetooth; trip computer; front LED headlamp accents and chrome trim, and the full range of electronic stability controls and safety equipment. Is there a better equipped vehicle at this price? I don’t think so.

For an extra $3,500, the Tech Package adds panoramic sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels with removable colour inserts, navigation system, uprated audio system with 10 speakers, alloy pedals, premium seat upholstery, 110V outlet, piano black interior accents and automatic headlights.

First Drive: 2012 Hyundai Veloster videos reviews hyundai first drives
2012 Hyundai Veloster. Click image to enlarge

Finally, there’s performance and fuel efficiency. While the Veloster definitely looks the sport coupe part, and its sport suspension and steering do produce an agile and entertaining ride, the 1.6-litre direct-injected 138-hp engine (as found in the new Hyundai Accent) has been selected for adequate power and excellent fuel economy.

Enthusiast drivers may lament that the Veloster is not a rocket; but it’s no slouch, either, offering a nice combination of everyday drivability with superior fuel efficiency demanded by consumers on a budget. For those who do want more power, a future turbo version was unofficially mentioned.

The standard powertrain with six-speed manual transmission returns 7.2/4.9 L/100 km, city/highway, according to the official EnerGuide numbers. A $1,400 automatic transmission option lowers fuel consumption to 7.0/4.9 L/100 km, city/highway, and up to seven-per cent better results are possible in the automatic transmission’s driver-selectable ActiveEco mode.

That “ActiveShift DCT” automatic transmission, by the way, is a six-speed dual clutch unit with hill-start assist (one clutch handles the odd gears: 1,3,5; and the other handles the even gears and reverse: 2,4,6,R). Engineered in-house, this is Hyundai’s first dual clutch transmission. It features paddle shifters and “Shiftronic” manual shift mode, or it simply operates as a full automatic.

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