2012 Hyundai VelosterPosted on February 6th, 2012
Three-door sport coupe designed for active lifestyles
By Nina Russin
The Veloster compact coupe is Hyundai’s answer to urbanites with active lifestyles. Designers modified a three-door liftback, adding a fourth door on the right-hand side. The rear door eases access and egress to the second-row seats.
Under the hood, a direct injection 1.6-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission offer peppy performance with excellent fuel efficiency: 40 mpg on the highway, according to EPA estimates.
The car’s small footprint gives it maneuverability for weaving through dense traffic and parking in small slots on the street. A versatile interior is bicycle-friendly, and the driver’s seat has enough room for an extremely tall driver. A friend who’s six-foot-five got behind the wheel and had room to spare.
As with every Hyundai, the Veloster offers a high level of standard safety and convenience features at a remarkably low price. MSRP on the test car is $17,300, including delivery. The base car comes with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, a ten-year/100,000 mile factory warranty, alloy wheels, air conditioning, satellite radio, Hyundai’s proprietary telematics system, remote keyless entry, MP3 and IPod compatibility and Bluetooth interface.
A style package upgrades the wheels to 18-inch rims, adds a panoramic sunroof, chrome grille, leather interior accents alloy pedals and audio upgrade ($2000). A technology package includes a navigation system with rearview camera, keyless start and a 115-volt power outlet ($2000), bringing the price as tested to $21,300.
Loves to go 140.6 miles
If the name isn’t a dead giveaway, the Veloster’s color palette clearly reflects Hyundai’s marketing focus on endurance athletes. The test car is “Vitamin C” orange. Other exterior color choices include: Century White, Ironman Silver, Triathlon Gray, Ultra Black, Marathon Blue, Electrolyte Green, 26.2 Yellow and Boston Red.
It’s a pretty smart strategy, considering that the average household income of a USA Triathlon Association member is about $125,000, according to recent statistics.
On a less superficial level, the Veloster’s athletic performance should hold great appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. From its alloy wheels to the aluminum block and heads, Hyundai’s sport coupe is lean, mean machine. Curb weight for the manual transmission model is just over 2500 pounds.
Direct injection and an 11:1 compression ratio give the engine excellent throttle response. There’s a little too much space between the transmission gears for this writer’s taste, but that’s a minor problem.
The electric power steering system is smaller and lighter than a hydraulic unit, yet offers excellent response at all speeds. A 34.12-foot turning circle makes U-turns a possibility on almost any road.
The suspension consists of an independent MacPherson setup in front and a torsion axle in back. Gas filled monotube shocks and stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat during aggressive driving. I found the ride pleasantly compliant on Phoenix’s smooth roads, but I would like to have a chance to test the car on some uneven urban thoroughfares in the upper Midwest.
Four-wheel disc brakes provide firm stopping power in any kind of weather.
Visibility to the front and left sides is quite good. The large driver’s side window makes for excellent over-the-shoulder visibility in that direction. The coupe’s thick right-hand B pillar creates a blind spot on the other side. The Veloster’s rear window is quite small, and its rear pillars quite wide. The rearview camera on the test car eliminates any visibility problems when driving in reverse. I’d highly recommend the option to buyers considering the car.
Blue Link telematics connects drivers to emergency services
Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system comes standard on the Veloster. It’s a concierge system similar in purpose to OnStar and Lexus Enform, with similar features such as stolen vehicle location and automatic notification of emergency personnel in the event of a collision. The feature also enables the driver to get navigation assistance from the call center, which can be a lot easier than fiddling with the navigation screen in rush-hour traffic.
Designers were inspired by sport bike design in creating the Veloster interior. The center stack’s wing-like shape is reminiscent of any number of motorcycle designs. At the base of the stack is the ignition start button on keyless models. The navigation screen is large and easy to see in a variety of lighting conditions, although I found some of the graphics themselves hard to decipher.
Redundant steering wheel controls enable to driver to change audio channels, set the cruise control and use the Bluetooth interface with minimal distraction.
The shift lever in the center console is small and a nice shape. A reverse lockout gear is standard, which is unusual for a car in this price range.
The driver’s seat is exceptionally comfortable: one of the best designs I’ve found on a vehicle at any price. As a distance runner, I have chronically tight hamstrings, and certain sport seats can be excruciatingly uncomfortable. All of the seats have good lower lumbar support as well.
The two seats in the back have a surprising amount of legroom, but headroom is limited due to the severe rake of the rear glass. The seats fold flat to extend the Veloster’s cargo floor.
Designers included plenty of cup and bottle holders for all four passengers, as well as an abundance of storage slots throughout the cabin. The optional 115-volt power outlet enables passengers to plug in a computer or games. There are two 12-volt power points for recharging cell phones on the go, as well as USB and auxiliary ports.
The Hyundai Veloster comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring, antilock brakes, traction and electronic stability control. Hyundai’s factory warranty includes five years of 24-hour roadside assistance.
The new Veloster is sprinting into Hyundai dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A small, versatile compact coupe with excellent fuel economy, as well as high levels of standard convenience and safety features.
Dislike: Small rear glass limits visibility out the back.
Base price: $17,300
As tested: $21,300
Horsepower: 138 Hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 123 lbs.-ft. @ 4850 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 28/40 mpg city/highway
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