2016 Hyundai Veloster DCT
Get where you want to go in style without leaving your friends behind.
To be fair to these prognosticators the UK gave up on the car after 2013 and sales have been steadily falling here, our market’s 2012 high of 34,862 units, 30,711 sales for 2013, 27,598 deliveries last year and just 21,999 sold up until the end of last month showing a significant decline, so kudos to Hyundai for putting yet more money behind a car that’s obviously waning in interest and fingers crossed that they’ll soon give it the full redesign its hardcore fans want to see.
Even though the Veloster sells in small numbers most people should find it familiar due to its unusual shape. If you see one driving by from the driver’s side it’ll look like a sporty two-door coupe, or three-door as is often referred when speaking of this liftback body style, with an elongated roof and abruptly vertical hatch pinched together via unique almond-shaped tail lamps. Seen from the passenger’s side, however, it looks like a four-door hatch, or rather a five-door. In actual fact the Veloster is neither, but instead a four-door comprised of three side doors and a hatch in back.
It’s not the first of its kind by a long shot, Saturn’s SC2 Coupe offering a rear-hinged clamshell back door design from the mid-‘90s through to the early ‘00s, although stupidly its rear door was fitted to the driver’s side making rear access from curbside less convenient, whereas Mini’s outgoing Clubman rectified this oversight, although the rear door was offered in the same less functional suicide-style. The Veloster’s abbreviated rear door is a regular front-hinged designed with its handle cleverly hidden within the C-pillar, so access to the back doesn’t first require the front passenger door to be opened, while getting in and out is easy and rear seat roominess is quite good as far as compact coupes go, with lots of legroom plus decent headroom unless your rear passenger is taller than six feet. Due to its rear liftback design cargo access is easy too, and with 15.5 cubic feet of volume behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks plus 34.7 cubic feet when they’re folded nearly flat it makes for a very utile package.
The Veloster’s exterior design is mostly the same this year as last, and almost identical inside. Up front it delivers a unique take on Hyundai’s usual sporty compact interior design, with a similar two-dial primary gauge setup to the Elantra, albeit framed by a unique three-spoke multifunction sport steering wheel and, to the right, a completely exclusive V-shaped center stack that houses a very impressive new infotainment touchscreen up top, a larger rotating HVAC controller surrounded by a nicely organized array of high-quality buttons just below, and metallic trimmed buttresses that reach down to surround the lower console-mounted shifter.
Other than the infotainment system just noted the Veloster cabin is status quo, meaning it’s filled with mostly hard plastics, albeit these are textured with a nice feeling soft touch paint, while the door inserts and armrests are covered with a padded synthetic. Loads of satin-silver accents and chrome details help to enhance the décor, while the sport seats are well bolstered and covered with a nice woven fabric with contrast stitching for a sporty look.
That seven-inch high-resolution color infotainment system is some top-tier tech. It includes the usual AM/FM/CD/satellite settings and great sound, while a new info section offers sports schedules and scores, stock info, and a Blue Max mode featuring a bright sky blue graphically detailed display complete with the Veloster’s profile on grass surrounded by trees and a start button below that scores your driving; kind of a video game to improve your green driving skills. I’m ok with that, but I wasn’t about to spend my time in this fun-loving sport coupe trying to eke out the best mileage, but rather I had a mind preset to performance.
Ok, maybe I set my expectations too high for a car kitted out with just 132 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque, this 1.6-liter four-cylinder not one of Hyundai’s most intoxicating mills despite direct-injection and dual continuously variable valve timing, although its high-revving nature and the six-speed dual-clutch automated Ecoshift transmission it was mated up to, with paddle shifters no less, made the most of the output available. Before continuing on take note power hounds, that you can get a Veloster Turbo with more than 200 horsepower and that is one serious little rocket, yet there’s still nothing at all dull about this base model when pushed to its limit, especially through twists and turns.
Keep the revs between 6,750 rpm and 8,000 and you’ll get the performance you’re looking for along with the sound of a four-pot sport bike, the ideal background music for tackling a backcountry farm road, preferably one that snakes along a quiet river or serpentine mountainside. That’s where the Veloster likes to show its mettle, delivering sharp handling and good overall control for a front strut and rear torsion beam suspended setup. With ample wheel travel and stabilizer bars at both ends it won’t hop and shimmy over bumps and dips in the pavement like some others, the Veloster always feeling controlled and composed during my test, although the ride is firm enough for all such road imperfections to be felt, as a sports model should be, but it’s by no means rough. I could easily commute in this car every day, while the seats are wonderfully comfortable and amply supportive when throwing the Veloster through the curves.
The best part of all this go-fast goodness is a window sticker of $21,599 as tested, plus freight and dealer fees of course, and that’s including the dual-clutch paddle-shifted autobox. The same base Veloster is $1,100 easier to get into with the six-speed manual, and for that kind of money you’ll still get a well-equipped car, a shortlist of highlights including 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, heatable powered side mirrors, chrome-tipped dual center exhaust, keyless remote, powered windows, a tilt and telescopic multifunction steering wheel, an overhead console with map lights and a sunglasses holder, air conditioning, the 7.0-inch high-resolution color touchscreen infotainment mentioned earlier, Bluetooth, voice recognition, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/iPod/USB/AUX/satellite audio, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, four-wheel discs with all the usual electronic driving aids, six airbags and more.
You can still upgrade your Veloster with a $2,100 Style package that adds larger 18-inch rims, high-gloss black interior trim, alloy pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leatherette door inserts, a 450-watt Dimension audio upgrade with eight speakers, an external amplifier and a sub, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics, nicer fabric upholstery with leatherette side bolsters, auto-up/down for the driver’s window, and a panoramic sunroof, but that’s another story for another time, as is discussion about the $2,100 Tech package that, after adding the Style package increases content to include auto on/off headlamps, proximity access and ignition, auto HVAC with auto defog, navigation with SiriusXM Travel Link, a 110-volt household-style power outlet and rear parking sensors.
Speaking of another story for another time you can also get more by opting for the previously noted Veloster Turbo, while Hyundai is offering what I think is the best limited-production model ever this year, Rally trim that includes exclusive matte blue paint, lightweight 18-inch Rays rims, black carbon fiber-look aero add-ons, an even sportier suspension with upgraded dampers, coil springs and stabilizer bar, a B&M Racing short-throw shifter mated up to the Turbo’s 201 horsepower turbocharged four, and blue-accented leather upholstery.
Back to reality, neither that nicely massaged version or the regular Turbo will return fuel economy as good as my Veloster DCT’s 28 mpg city, 36 highway and 31 combined or the manual car’s 27, 35 and 30 rating, although to be fair the Turbo’s 29 combined mileage is pretty impressive for providing such a solid dose of power, making either Veloster as good a daily commuter as weekend warrior, a great combination sports coupe for getting where you want to go in style without leaving your friends behind.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press Inc.