Review: 2012 Hyundai Veloster 6MT Style/Tech

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.

Author: Kevin Gordon

Kevin is Autosavant's owner and Editor-in-Chief, responsible for setting the overall strategy and editorial direction of Autosavant. He's also the primary contributor to Autosavant's YouTube channel (youtube.com/autosavant) where you can find a comprehensive library of new-car reviews.

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9 Comments

  1. This review is on the money. The first time I saw this car up close I came away saying this was the new CRX Honda DID NOT build. I love it. Earth to car media/enthusiasts…in today’s average car buyer’s mind, tech > power.

  2. You hit it right on the head. The style promises acceleration that the engine can’t match. Also 8.5 to 60 in 1989 was more impressive than it is today. Also, it doesn’t sound fast or act fast. a 1994 Integra GS-R wasn’t a Ferrari, but it sure sounded like one when you put the pedal down. Hyundai needs to work on the visceral thrill with its sports cars.

  3. I really hope you’re not taking your rage out on intimate objects. Particularly if those intimate objects are made of human tissue. Maybe inanimate was the word you wanted there?

    Editing, guys.

    Anyway, I agree with the review. Nothing wrong with this car and there’s a hell of a lot that’s right about it.

  4. I did edit the piece – just missed that one. Thanks for catching. Amazing what a difference two letters makes!

  5. Nice review Kevin. What do you think of the veloster as a replacement for my not-very-reliable expensive-to-repair Mini Cooper (not S)?

  6. That is a very good question. I did not bring up the Cooper because, despite their apparent similarities, they are quite different cars. As with most things, it depends… If you like tech, appreciate something compact, and would like to potentially use your back seat once in a while, the Veloster might be a great exchange for your Mini. If you like the luxury features that are available in the Mini you will not find all of them in the Veloster. Also, the Veloster does not handle as well as the Mini, but its longer wheelbase helps keep it calmer on the highway. Give one a drive. With the warranty, at least your repair costs would be lower for quite a while. ^KG

  7. Well I love the way this thing looks! It’s daring, and I like that.

  8. Wow Could you be further off on a review! I purchased this car for my wife in oct and we have been disappointed with it to say the least. First the mileage (EPA) is nowhere close. She has a 21 mile comute , with all interstate with 2 stop signs only The mileage average is 32.3 over 6 months. I would expect closer to the epa with an all highway comute. You can get close to 40 if you drive under 55 with eggshells under your foot. The Bluelink system is a joke ! First the disclaimer that they want you to sign gives up all privacy rights. The service is CDMA cell phone based, so the coverage is based on availability of cell phone service which is why you have commercials with” can you hear me now” which most of the time you can;t. Bluelink (and for that matter any telematics system) should be option only. I also has Hyundai’s first EDR system. This should be outlawed on EVERY car.They offer you a 6 month trial of Bluelink if you give them an auto renewal credit card. We turned it down and get a commercial everytime we start the car and Hyundai says there is nothing they can do about it. This is beyond the relm of their knowledge in telematics to turn off an app or turn off an auto start software. The motor is underpowered to say the least with the shift between 1st and 2nd best described as “pitiful” If you say you got a 0-60 time any better than 7.5 , you had a 911 Porche pushing you. Oh before you say I just don’t understand the tech, I was an RPG2/ Cobol./ Fortran programmer for 20 years

  9. George, it sounds like you’ve experienced the same issue with the EPA rating as most people have. This has recently been taken to court and been decided in the favor of the car companies. I agree that the 40 MPG number might be a bit misleading, but 32.3 MPG over 6 months of life doesn’t sound too bad to me. What is interesting is your number appears to match the crowd sourced data that is available on the eco screens. Your Bluelink comments are interesting and something that I will try to follow up on with Hyundai. The car we drove was connected to a corporate account and I live in an area with good cell coverage so I did not notice the same problem. It is true that the Veloster isn’t a rocket, but neither is anything in its class. If you’d like more power see if Hyundai will give you a deal on a turbo. Finally, I wasn’t going to say that you sounded uninformed about tech, but pulling out mainframe languages might do more harm for your case than good (I, of course, kid). Maybe staring at console screens all day…. (again, of course, I kid and know that there are GUIs for these). I worked with Cobol for a while as well and then we migrated to the nightmare known as DB2 and WebSphere (thinking of threading issues still makes me cringe) I wish you luck and appreciate the feedback. We only get to spend a week with the cars, so someone who has lived with one for 6 months can provide some valuable insight. -Kevin G

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