First Drive: The New Hyundai Veloster

Full disclosure Hyundai flew me out to Austin Texas to test drive the new Veloster, however, I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 
by Michael Satterfield

When the first Hyundai Veloster launched back in 2011 the quirky 2+1 door layout was just what the small car maker needed to stand out in a sea of standard hatchbacks. The car was well received and even developed a pretty loyal community of enthusiasts who loved the sporty performance and funky styling. But while many thought the Veloster would be a one-off the car's popularity means Hyundai has released an all-new 2019 Veloster. The new car has been engineered from the ground up to give Veloster drivers more of everything that made them love the first version.

The car still offers quirky styling with the single driver's side door and two passenger doors, center exhaust, and unique interior cues. It is familiar but more sophisticated with a stylish and functional interior, loads of standard features, and more importantly, it is fun to drive. Hyundai has taken what they learned from the Sonata Sport and applied it to the new Veloster. The car benefits from a multi-link rear suspension, lighter weight aluminum front knuckles and rear carriers, a more ridge chassis, and available Michelin Pilot Sports 4S performance tires, all of this means this new Veloster offers a sporty fun drive, especially with the 6-speed manual transmission. 

I spent the day behind the wheel of both the Turbo R-Spec with a 6-Speed Manual and the Turbo Ultimate with the 7 Speed DCT with paddle shifters. Bother come with the 1.6L Turbo GDI 4 cylinder engine making 201hp. There is a 2.0L non-turbo that makes 147hp, and the forthcoming Veloster N, a performance-focused model that features a 2.0L Turbocharged engine making 275hp, but that won't be available until late 2018. 

Behind the wheel of the Veloster Turbo R-Spec, the car feels planted and well balanced, the 6-Speed manual transmission with a shifter designed by B&M Racing feels great in the hand and shifting feels smooth and precise. The turbo models also feature Active Engine Sound which is adjustable, allowing you to select how aggressive the engine sound in the interior is.

Inside the cars feature a wealth of premium technologies and features for their price point, from the large LCD touchscreen display to the Infinity Premium Audio sound system the car feels like it should cost several thousand more than it does. With the Turbo Ultimate standard features include leather seating, wireless phone charging, automatic rain sensing wipers, heated seats, and much more. 

Hyundai has taken the guesswork out of buying the car as well by offering the car in (eventually) six trim levels. The base 2.0 with an MSRP of $18,500* and the current top of the range Veloster Turbo Ultimate DCT coming in with an MSRP of $28,150* with pricing on the N model to be announced later this year. The only choice you really have other than which trim level you are going to select is the color. Color selection was one area that I was disappointed, out of seven available colors the color chart almost looks like it is printed in gray-scale. The car is, of course, offer black and white, then three shades of gray/silver, but the only two color choices are "Racing Red" and "Sunset Orange." I would have liked to see a range of funky colors to go along with the "quirky" vibe that is associated with the Veloster. 

The interior options are also non-negotiable, each trim level has it's own distinct interior treatment and comes in only one color. The base 2.0 gets your fairly standard black/dark grey cloth with blue pops of color on the dash and steering wheel. The 2.0 Premium gets a cloth/leather combination with red accents. The Turbo models get a similar treatment of black cloth and cloth/leather but with red or yellow accents. The major departure is when you make the jump to the Turbo Ultimate which gets a unique two-tone interior defining the drivers and passenger spaces in a black and sand storm grey leather with red accents. 

If I was going to purchase a Veloster for myself (not considering the N, which is not available yet), I would have to put my money on the Turo R-Spec. The combination of the 6 Speed Manual, 18" inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, and the standard premium sound system, Blue Link, and LED head and tail lamps really do make it an attractive package for $22,900*. 

When looking at comparable cars in this segment few offer as much content and features standard for this price point. Overall the new Veloster has taken the best things I liked in the old Veloster and just made them better. The car is still fun to look at, surprisingly functional, and with the improvements to the suspension and driving aids, a lot of fun to go canyon carving in. 

Be sure to check out the YouTube video from my trip below. 

*All prices exclude freight charge of $885