Hyundai Veloster (2011) review

Published:01 April 2011

Hyundai Veloster (2011) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

Hyundai’s new Veloster is essentially the replacement for Hyundai’s front-wheel drive Coupe, but the concept is all new: gone are the two-door coupe lines, replaced by an asymmetric hatchback/coupe crossover. There are traces of Citroen DS3 at the front, of the Renaultsport Megane in the rear three-quarter, a dash of Honda CR-Z here, a sprinkle of Mini there, but the key talking point is that asymmetric door design: there are two doors on the passenger side, yet only one on the driver’s side. Read on for CAR's review of the new Hyundai Veloster.

So the new Hyundai Veloster is a bit like a Mini Clubman, then?

Kind of, but Hyundai has engineered out the Clubman’s Achilles heel: that single rear door depositing passengers onto the road and not the pavement when it comes to right-hand drive markets. So, when the steering wheel switches to the right for right-hand drive markets, the rear door will swap sides too – it’s a big, costly undertaking for Hyundai as the B-pillar is different on both sides of the car, but it’s a welcome touch.

What’s it like inside?

It looks cool. The dash is angular and distinctive, and there’s a lovely honeycomb texture on the upper dash plastics that reminds of the technical fabrics Ferrari uses in the Scuderia and 599 GTO. The centre console is cleanly laid out, and the flashes of piano black trim and matt silver ‘floating’ grab handles lend extra visual interest. The downsides are some cheaper lower plastics, and a dated instrument binnacle.

There’s also precious little headroom and anyone over 6'2” will be buffing their scalp on the headlining. Still, I’m 6’1” and I soon forgot about the limited clearance. The single rear door opens conventionally – i.e. if you opened it on the go, the wind would push it shut, not sweep it open, inviting you to jump to your doom – allowing easy access to the back seat, but that sweeping roofline makes headroom even tighter. Yet I could sit behind myself – slightly hunched, knees splayed either side of the front seatback – for short journeys while grumbling only lightly.

How does it drive?

There are a few caveats here: we’re driving a Korean-spec car with an auto, not Hyundai’s own dual-clutch semi-auto that will be optional in the UK or the default manual six-speeder that’s common to all markets. The suspension and steering will also be retuned for Europe.

A more powerful engine will follow, but at the moment buyers are restricted to the 1.6-litre, naturally aspirated, direct injection petrol that musters 138bhp. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the engine, but it is quite workmanlike: you need to work it hard, the throttle response is soggy for a naturally aspirated unit and there’s no fizz in its upper echelons. This is compounded in our car by the dreadful gearbox.

The Veloster is very nose-led in its handling, but it’s still composed and a lot of fun when you throw it down a twisty road, and the steering lends some meaty weight to work against. The Veloster is still clearly shaded by the more expensive Scirocco and Megane RS, but it’s not at all bad.

The suspension deals with the overall flow of the road well, but the secondary ride – the way it reacts to road surface imperfections – is poor and lumpy. Let’s hope that’s dialled out for Europe.

Verdict

The Veloster has striking looks, a distinctively attractive cabin, and it’s good to drive too, but we wonder if the extra rear door is a mistake – it looks far better when viewed from its single-door side and, even though the extra door is useful for grabbing belongings from the back or loading kids, we suspect the majority of buyers will be younger, won’t regularly need the rear seats and would be happier having a car that looks great on both sides.

Still, the extra door does have novelty appeal, the Veloster is a very likeable car and Hyundai’s traditional strong value combined with the low-power engine means you can get something as distinctive as a Scirocco or Megane RS for less cash and lower running costs.

As it stands this is a solid three-star car, but with more power, smoother suspension and a better gearbox, there’s no reason why it can’t be buffed into a low four.

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Specs

Price when new: £17,500
On sale in the UK: Autumn 2011
Engine: 16-valve 4-cylinder, 138bhp @ 6300rpm, 123lb ft @ 4850rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Performance: 9.8sec 0-62mph, 125mph, 45.6mpg, 142g/km (figures for six-speed manual gearbox)
Weight / material: 4220/1790/1399
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 1255kg/steel

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  • Hyundai Veloster (2011) review
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  • Hyundai Veloster (2011) review
  • Hyundai Veloster (2011) review
  • Hyundai Veloster (2011) review
  • Hyundai Veloster (2011) review
  • Hyundai Veloster (2011) review
  • Hyundai Veloster (2011) review

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

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