Hyundai's Veloster is a boldly styled hatchback with two front doors and one forward-opening rear door on the passenger side. Effectively replacing the Tiburon, the Veloster serves as a coupe opposite the new Elantra sedan. Hyundai considers the Honda CR-Z, Mini Cooper and Scion tC among the Veloster's competitors.
From all angles, the Veloster looks like no other car. Its far-out design will draw comparisons with the Nissan Juke, but a longer, lower and slightly wider stature makes the Hyundai more of a car than a crossover.
Hyundai says the Veloster's styling was inspired by high-performance motorcycles, and the black A-pillars are meant to give the appearance of a wraparound helmet shield to the windows. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard, and 18-inch versions are optional, as are a chrome grille surround, fog lights, piano-black accents and a panoramic moonroof. The rear features a center-mounted tailpipe. A gloss-black diffuser panel is optional.
Like the exterior, and perhaps even more so, the interior's shapes recall the front of a sport bike. Leather is optional on the steering wheel and shift knob, as are alloy pedals.
The backseat accommodates two with limited headroom and legroom that depends greatly on how much the front occupants require. Because the curbside rear door is front-hinged, it can be opened independently of the front door, an improvement over other three-door models.
The Veloster includes a 7-inch touch-screen display with Bluetooth hands-free telephony, voice recognition, a USB port for video playback when the car is parked, RCA jacks, Pandora internet radio capability and the ability to download CDs and display album art. A navigation system with a backup camera is optional.
The Veloster also marks Hyundai's entry into telematics with Blue Link, a cellular-enabled suite of features similar to GM's OnStar. Features in the Essentials package include voice text messaging, remote door unlock, remote start, alarm notification, diagnostics and maintenance alerts, a recall adviser, stolen vehicle slowdown and recovery, and more. Blue Link Guidance provides turn-by-turn navigation, point-of-interest search and traffic features separate from the optional navigation system.
Under the Hood
The sole engine, as of the Veloster's introduction, is a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder that drives the front wheels through the buyer's choice of a six-speed manual transmission or dual-clutch six-speed automatic. The technology combines with a relatively low 2,584-pound curb weight to deliver an estimated 37 mpg on the highway.
Airbags in the Veloster include two frontal, two front-seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags. As required of all 2012 models sold in the U.S., antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard.
The car comes with a trial period of Blue Link Assurance, which includes several safety provisions similar to those offered by GM's OnStar: Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance SOS Emergency Assistance, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance.
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