The 2019 Hyundai Veloster proves you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have an exciting sports car. In fact, we recently wondered whether this quirky three-door hatchback might be the best performance bargain you can find for around $24,000.
What helps separate the Veloster from the pack is more than its unique arrangement of having one door on the driver’s side and two smaller ones on the passenger side — though let’s admit it, that’s a pretty funky attribute for any car to possess. Yet, the best part of the Veloster is how much excitement it packs into a car that starts at less than $20,000.
During our recent test drives, we sampled the Veloster Ultimate and R-Spec models. Each was fitted with the optional 201-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, versus the standard car’s 147-hp four-cylinder. This also allowed us to sample both the dual-clutch automatic transmission fitted in the Ultimate and the six-speed manual transmission that comes with the R-Spec. Yes, you can still shift for yourself (and thank goodness for that!).
Be sure to check out our full review of the 2019 Hyundai Veloster by Cars.com’s Mike Hanley via the related link above. For a more rapid run through the attributes that impressed us most in this three-door hot hatch — along with a few things that could use some fixing — scroll down to see how the Veloster fares.
Things We Like
1. Quirky Design
We can’t talk about the Veloster and not point out the car’s strangely endearing design. You will not fade into the background when driving this car — that’s a fact. Granted, the looks aren’t for everyone and it does look a little too funky from certain angles, particularly when viewed in profile. But hey, it’s nice to drive a car that isn’t afraid to stand out from safer, more conservative designs.
2. Nimble Handling
In our review, we compared the Veloster to one of the most fun and nimble cars we know, the peppy Mini Cooper. The Hyundai doesn’t have quite the same degree of handling prowess, though it comes close. The quick steering and strong levels of grip make the Veloster a riot to drive.
3. Nicely Controlled Ride
What’s extra special about the Veloster’s sharp driving dynamics is that you don’t give up everyday comfort. While it’s on the firm side, the Veloster doesn’t punish you with a super-rigid suspension.
4. Impressive Dual-Clutch Transmission
We had some doubts about how the dual-clutch automatic transmission fitted to our Veloster Ultimate might handle everyday driving; this type of gearbox can sometimes prove balky in operation. That wasn’t the case with the Veloster, however: The automatic gearbox performed smoothly on all but one occasion.
5. Precise Six-Speed Manual
The manual transmission is not dead! In fact, with the Veloster R-Spec, your only choice of gearbox is a slick-shifting six-speed manual. This is one of Hyundai’s best efforts; the clutch is forgiving and the throws are short. We noted that it’s nearly as good as the superb manuals found in the Honda Civic Type R and Fiat 124 Spider.
6. Comfortable Front Seats
You sit low in the Veloster, but the front seats do an excellent job holding you in place and keeping you comfortable. The leather seats in the Ultimate aren’t overly bolstered, which is a plus in a sporty model like this one. Meanwhile, the R-Spec seats had sweatpant-like cloth inserts and interesting yellow-and-black trim accents.
7. Roomy Rear Seating
Believe it or not, the amount of space in the second row is pretty good. There’s a decent amount of legroom and, true to form, that second door on the passenger side makes getting back there a cinch. There is one notable drawback to life in the backseat of the Veloster, however, and we’ll get to that shortly.
8. Easy-to-Us Infotainment System
The 8-inch touchscreen found in our two Veloster test cars was quick and easy to use. A 7-inch screen is standard, and all versions of the infotainment system come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
9. Strong Safety Scores
Don’t think that just because it’s sporty, the Veloster doesn’t take safety into consideration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2019 Veloster a Top Safety Pick rating, the second-highest possible score. See? You don’t necessarily need to drive an enormous truck or SUV to feel safe.
10. Turbocharged Engine
Did we almost forget to mention how rev-happy and entertaining this 201-hp turbo-four proved to be during our test drives? Well, it’s all coming back to us now! This engine isn’t what we’d call overpowering in how it gets power to the front wheels, but it’s a blast all the same.
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Things We Don’t
1. Terrible Rearward Visibility
We can’t overstate how bad the view is toward the rear of the Veloster. The wild exterior design impinges on rear visibility from the driver’s seat. This can make it especially awkward to maneuver the car in city driving or in tight parking spots.
2. Sport Mode Is Fun, Not Perfect
There are three selectable drive modes: Normal, Sport and Smart. Naturally, we weren’t going to neglect to try out the Veloster’s Sport mode to see how it performed. While Sport gave added urgency to the accelerator and provided more heft to the steering, it was too jerky for normal driving. The jump between Normal and Sport modes is simply too big.
3. Claustrophobic Rear Seats
We mentioned visibility to the rear of the Veloster is bad from the driver’s perspective. Things only get worse for anyone just riding in the rear. The tiny side windows and low ceiling lend a claustrophobic feeling to the second row. It’s a shame because, as we pointed out earlier, the overall amount of space back there is surprisingly accommodating for adults.
4. Awkward Cargo Area
It might be a hatchback but, once again, the style of the Veloster limits some of its everyday practicality. The cargo area is accessed via a small liftgate. You also have to haul any cargo up and over the car’s high rear bumper.
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