Sedans are more practical than coupes; the people riding up front don’t have to get out to let people riding in the back get out.
Or get in.
But coupes look sexier than sedans.
How to split the difference?
How about a coupe on the driver’s side and a sedan on the other side?
And crossover room for cargo in the backside?
What It Is
The Veloster is a compact, four-seater coupe with three doors that attempts to solve the practicality problem that has always beset two-door, four-seater cars.
Prices start at $18,900, which gets you a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine without a turbo, 147 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission. Next up is the Turbo, which comes with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that produces 201 horsepower. You can choose either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It stickers for $23,450 to start.
At the pinnacle is the high-performance N, which reverts to the 2.0-liter engine — pumped up to 275 horsepower. The manual-equipped N lists for $32,250, but with the optional automatic, the price tops out at $33,750.
All Velosters are front-wheel-drive.
The N used to be manual-only, and the full 275 horsepower used to be optional — which you got when you bought the $2,100 Performance Package.
Now you have the option to select an automatic — and the full 275 horsepower is standard (250 was previously included).
Shift for yourself — or not — as you prefer.
It’s a coupe that’s got sedan practicality for passengers — and crossover versatility for cargo.
N comes standard with more power and features than last year.
What’s Not So Good
Back seat passengers have to exit and enter from the passenger side.
Back seat headroom is scrunchy tight (35.9 inches).
N comes standard with a higher MSRP than before.
Under the Hood
Hyundai has increased the drivetrain choices offered by the Veloster, which already offered more drivetrain choices than any of its rivals.
The base 2.0-liter engine makes 147 horsepower.
If you prefer more power, the next-up 1.6-liter turbocharged engine delivers 201 horsepower. A six-speed manual is standard, and a performance-calibrated seven speed dual-clutch automatic is optional.
The N now comes standard with a 275-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter engine and the option to pair it with a new-design eight speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
On the Road
The base Veloster isn’t as speedy as the Turbo or the even-more-turbo’d N — but it is more fun than other small cars because you can shift for yourself. Shifting yourself makes a car feel (END TIAL) speedier than an automatic-only car, and it also gives you more feedback and control. Automatics have their merits too, of course — including not having to shift for yourself. But it’s really nice that Hyundai offers the choice — and not just in the base trim.
The Turbo 1.6-equipped trim offers substantially more speed for not much more money. It feels even speedier because of the 195 foot-pounds of torque at just 1,500 revolutions per minute. This is opposed to the 132 foot-pounds at 4,500 revolutions per minute made by the base 2.0-engine without the turbo boost. There is so much torque on hand — and so soon — that it is easy to skitter the tires from a standstill and while rolling, which is also fun.
It is even easier to skitter the tires in the N, especially now that it comes standard with 275 horsepower.
At the Curb
Hyundai’s solution to the either-or dilemma presented by the coupe-sedan choice was to add a door to the passenger side of a car that is otherwise a coupe, especially from the driver’s side where there is just the one door. This opens up the back seat area without anyone up front having to get out of their seats.
It’s not a perfect solution, though.
If you have more than one back seat passenger, the other back seat passenger will have to get out to let him out. And the driver will, of course, have to go around to the passenger side to get at whatever he tossed onto the seat behind him.
Also, there are just two backseats — not the usual three in a sedan — so this is a four-seater three-door. And the headroom in the back is several inches less than in the front (35.9 inches versus 38.1 inches), and you have to be careful not to bump your head getting in because of the very low roofline, which rolls downward farther than is usual, abbreviating the entry space.
Hyundai’s SmartSense suite of driver assistance technology now comes standard with the N. It includes Forward Collision Assist, which applies the brakes if the car thinks it’s necessary to avoid a collision; Lane Keep Assist, which turns the steering wheel if the car thinks you are wandering out of your lane and Driver Attention Warning, which suggests you pay more attention if the car thinks your attention is wandering.
The Bottom Line
The Veloster is something no other car is: unique. There is literally nothing else like it.
And that alone makes it very appealing.
(SET IMAGE) epe062221adAP.jpg (END IMAGE) (SET CAPTION) View the Hyundai Veloster this week. (END CAPTION)
Eric’s latest book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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Last Updated: Monday, Jun 21, 2021 10:46:09 -0700