NAIAS Preview: Hyundai Veloster
By Charles Krome
Well, it looks like the long wait for a low-cost Hyundai sports coupe will soon be over. The company has launched a short teaser video and microsite for the 2011 Hyundai Veloster, with the former providing a very few clues to the car’s content and the latter featuring a countdown clock for the its North American International Auto Show debut.
Based on that video, the Veloster will pack a direct-injection engine, a dual-clutch gearbox and the ability to hit an estimated 40 mpg, undoubtedly referring to its EPA highway rating. I’m thinking this means it will pack the same new 1.8-liter I4 found in the 2011 Elantra, where it makes 148 hp and 131 lb-ft of torque, while posting an EPA line of 29 mpg city/40 mpg highway. Details are scarce beyond this, although it’s a safe bet the Veloster concept of 2007 will have plenty of influence on the production model.
The show car, first introduced three years ago at the Los Angeles auto show, looks a bit like a Nissan Juke, thanks to its pronounced wheel arches and dramatic lines, but it comes off as a much more appealing design because it does away with any pretenses of being a crossover. The aggressive front fascia has an interesting “mouth-within-a-mouth” appearance that sort of reminds me of the creature’s extra set of teeth from the Alien movies, but in a good way, and I also love the centered exhaust pipes, a cue that will apparently make it into production if spy shots are to be believed.
But the most notable design element of the concept was its full-length panoramic glass roof, split part way through lengthwise by a stretch of sheet metal and flowing into the car’s rear cargo area. The result gives the Veloster the same sort of profile you might expect from a modern-day Honda CRX—or a better proportioned current-day Honda CR-Z. Again, however, we must remember this was just the concept. A lot of spy shots are floating around out there, but I’ve yet to see one that wasn’t heavily camouflaged. On the other hand, even with the camo, it’s obvious the production car’s hatch treatment will be relatively dramatic, albeit sans the fancy roof.
My take here: Light years beyond the ungainly Tiburon—either generation—the Veloster actually is going to be a modern-day CRX, fitting into that role as a nimble, well-handling sports coupe that still delivers stellar EPA ratings and can be counted on as a practical daily driver.
(Note: Just to be clear, the still photos accompanying this story are of the Veloster concept.)