I have rage issues. There I said it. Fortunately, I take out most of my aggression on inanimate objects (I’m great at patching drywall) and the rest gets spent at the gym. After spending a week in the Hyundai Veloster I couldn’t figure out why I was so angry about it. I really, really like the car. After reflecting on the subject for a while I realized it was not because of the car in any way. I was pissed at all of the other journalists that spent so much time complaining about how “limped” this car was by its lack of horsepower. Read on to find out why.
The Veloster has been universally pounded in the press for being underpowered. Strangely, many of those same pens are quick to reminisce about the 1980s Honda CRX Si and how wonderful it was. Here is the catch, the Veloster manages a 0-60 run (by our test) of 8.5 seconds. The Honda CRX Si managed to hit sixty in the exact same amount of time. The CRX was economical for its time with its miles per gallon coming in at 26 city/30 highway. The Veloster slightly edges the CRX at 28 city and then crushes its highway number with a 40 MPG Standard/38 MPG Automatic EPA rating. It does all of this while carrying around an extra 600-800 lbs depending on options. The extra weight? It provides useful things like airbags, ABS, and sound deadening.
So what am I missing? The Veloster is an excellently appointed, economical, and enjoyable to drive three door coupe. I am not sure who in the auto media hierarchy decided that they did not like the Veloster, but someone sent around a memo and the mainstream listened. The only thing I can figure is that Hyundai doesn’t spend enough money advertising with the rags and as a result they are one of the remaining targets for criticism. Do I sound angry? Good. Point made.
Moving on to the car then… The party pieces on the Veloster are the two forward opening doors on the passenger side while the drivers side has a single point of entry. It might be a bit of a gimmick, but it works. The large drivers door makes entry/exit easy while the second door on the passenger side makes putting things in back seat significantly easier than a forward sliding seat ever could. This isn’t to say that the backseat is a place where an adult would want to spend time (be sure to duck if someone closes the hatch), but if you have small children, the backseat is truly useful. The large hatch does provide the opportunity to put larger items into the back, but a high liftover does make it challenging for heavy items. The back end doesn’t have a ton of space, but it is similarly sized and shaped like the much loved Audi A7.
The seats in the Veloster are cloth and the style package adds leatherette covers to the bolsters. The style package also adds: 18″ wheels, a chrome grille, a very nice panoramic sunroof, an upgraded stereo (more on that later), leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an auto-open drivers window. They manage to find a good mix of sport and comfort. Strangely, I found the headrests to be mounted too far forward relative to the seat back. When attempting to rest my head I felt like my melon was forced forward more than what any other car I can remember recently has done to me. Admittedly, I do have an unusually large head, so you may not find the same issue. The manual height adjustment on the seat and the telescoping steering wheel makes finding a comfortable driving position easy. The dash is sculpted and frontward visibility is easy. There is a large blind spot over the driver’s left shoulder which makes merging a lean-forward-and-look-back annoyance.
For our driving impressions please see our video review below:
Next to the three door setup, the electronics in the Veloster make it stand out from the crowd. There is not another car in this price range that can compete with the Veloster when it comes to technology. In the video below I walk through most of the major features. The one topic I did not cover in detail is the stereo. The stereo is good, but not great. It manages to be loud and if you spend most of your time listening to Little Wayne (which I find myself doing more and more) you will not be disappointed. The subwoofer works well and low notes produced by an 808 are represented with appropriate power and vibration. My biggest knock against it is its lack of refinement. Turn on a Jack Johnson track and the door speakers buzz. Separation is good and the front stage works well, but the cleanliness is lacking. Please understand, in some cars the stereo alone adds more than $2000 to the price. In the Veloster $2000 buys you the style package that is listed above. Another $2000 buys you the tech package with includes: special wheels, backup sensors, navigation with backup camera, auto headlights, push button start, and a 115V outlet. Throw in an optional automatic an you have all of the possibilities for Veloster configurations.
Our technology walk through:
With the style and tech packages our Veloster’s window sticker showed a price of $21,300. When priced (with the automatic) against its most likely competitor, the Honda CR-Z, it is $1000 less expensive. It is also lighter, faster, has better tech, and gets better highway fuel economy when compared with the CR-Z. Is the Veloster a better spiritual successor to the CRX than the CR-Z, despite coming from a different company? It is. So why has the Veloster be given such a hard time for being under powered? My only guess is it wasn’t marketed as an economy car and its looks give it an expected sportiness that isn’t quite matched by the drive. Is stopping there fair? No. The Veloster brings style, technology, a good driving experience, and impressive economy to this new class of cars. If you want a faster one wait a few months and Hyundai will be happy to sell you the turbocharged model.
Hyundai provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.