A couple of years ago a friend of mine bought a new black Hyundai Veloster. After parking it in his driveway for the first time, he stopped to admire it before heading into his house. Walking by, a neighbour exclaimed, “Moving up, eh? Pooooorsche!”
Okay, so his neighbour knows diddly about cars, but let’s face it, most people see vehicles with an untrained eye. They get impressions but maybe not the details. And this guy’s impression of the Veloster was that it was sporty, classy, distinctive, looked expensive. Looked like a Porsche to him.
While it’s not a German supercar, Veloster is still a singular vehicle. I remember at the press introduction in Vancouver thinking that Hyundai had hit a home run with this one. For 2012, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) gave it a Best New Design award and named it Best New Sports/Performance Car under $50,000. But it turns out that sales are modest; declining, even. Perhaps it’s just too different.
Granted, the Veloster doesn’t generate the neck-snapping acceleration and rail-like handling that its shape might suggest, but you can now buy the base model for under $18,299 and you can buy a fully loaded 2015 Veloster Turbo, the subject of our test drive in appealing Vitamin C paint, for $26,749 plus $1,695 freight/delivery. We’ll get to “fully loaded” later, because this may be what tips the scales when it comes to a purchase.
And yes, Veloster is unlike other cars. First of all it doesn’t look like anything else on the road. Some find it “awesome,” (the sales assistant at the local “Blinds to Go” was all over it), some not so much. I’d describe its appearance as “scrappy” (as in a scrappy temperament). The Veloster Turbo ramps up the scrappiness with a 1.6L GDI (gasoline direct injected) engine making 201 hp at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque delivered between 1,750-4,500 rpm. A six-speed manual, of course, is the base ‘box, but you can get it with a dual-clutch automatic for an extra $1,300 (a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is rumoured for next year).
Built on the same platform as the subcompact Hyundai Accent, the Veloster Turbo gets bigger front brakes than the non-Turbo model, a quicker steering ratio and Active Cornering Control (power is redirected to the outside (loaded) front wheel, reducing wheel spin for improved cornering grip and better traction on corner exit). It wears a big gulp hexagonal grille, unique 18-inch wheels, sculpted side skirts, diffuser vents in the rear bumper and outsized, Boxsteresque centre-mounted exhaust tips (well, they’re not tips — they look like the business end of a pair of trombones).
2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
So it’s a bit exaggerated in places, but not manic. It just thinks a lot of itself.
And why not? It has personality. While being a four-door car sounds ordinary, the Veloster has one at the back, one on the driver’s side and two on the passenger side. It’s kind of a hatchback-coupe and it has a big, deep 440L trunk. The sloping roofline gives it less cargo-room than a conventional hatchback with the rear seats down, however. Still… useful room back there for cargo, and short-haul easy-access accommodation for passengers.
I mentioned “fully loaded” earlier, and the Veloster Turbo sure is that. A seven-inch (15 centimetre) display sits atop the centre stack with standard navigation, satellite radio, rear-view camera and communications functionality. Seats are heated, as is the steering wheel and there’s leather upholstery with the driver’s seat adjustable for height. Above you’ll enjoy a panoramic sunroof with power sunscreen. Pedals are aluminum, the steering wheel multi-function, and headlights automatic, plus a 450-watt Dimension sound system, 115-volt electrical (household-style) outlet, Bluetooth, proximity keyless entry and, as they say on TV… there’s more. But you get the point.