Fewer and fewer sporty coupes are available for drivers who enjoy driving, and there are fewer yet that are both snazzy looking and affordable.
Hyundai’s revamped Veloster is a good one though and meets all of the above requirements.
First, you either like edgy looking hatchbacks or you don’t. I do, and the Veloster remains strong on style and function. The tested Racing Red Veloster Turbo Ultimate even has a third door to make rear seat entry more comfortable. The driver’s side is all sleek hatchback and the passenger’s side features a rear door released via a handle hidden in the rear window pillar.
Pricing is attractive from the bottom to the top-line Veloster I tested. A base 2.0. featuring a mild 147-horse 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission starts at $19,385, including delivery. That’s less than $20 grand for a sporty looking and handling car. Take note young buyers!
Want more power? I would, and the Turbo delivers just enough to make driving interesting. The boosted 1.6-liter I4 cranks 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The Veloster Turbo R-Spec starts at $23,785, while the next level up Turbo lists at $26,285 and the Ultimate at $27,535 with delivery.
While the turbo has more power than the base model it doesn’t deliver that power with much snap. The manual tranny might help that, but here it just feels like moderate grunt with no big turbo kick. In fact, with the tranny sometimes hunting for the right shift point this feels a bit less than exciting. Still, Car and Driver magazine claims the Veloster turbo did 0-60 mph in just 6.0 seconds with the automatic. But I’d still stick with the manual if fun is your aim.
Handling is another matter. The Veloster feels sporty and is easy to toss around tight turns and to feel somewhat like you’re in a sophisticated go-kart. I mean that in a good way. The R18 tires give it good grip in turns too.
The car’s three drive modes, Normal, Sport and Smart, allow the driver to select just how much feedback he or she gets. With Sport the wheel is firmest and the tranny seems to shift a bit more quickly and crisply. Smart, which is to be computer aided to match your driving style, seemed only moderately different from Normal, which definitely dials in more wheel play in the steering.
Ride is downright choppy at times. A bit more refinement in the multi-link rear suspension could help the city ride. If you’re looking for smooth sports car ride you’d better save up for a BMW or Audi.
Inside you’ll feel comfortable and well-tended to and appreciate the stylishness for the car’s modest price. The red test car with its black roof featured a black dash over oatmeal lower portion and the seats were oatmeal with a red stripe down the center for a smidge of youthful racy looks. That red accent stripe also is repeated in the shifter, dash and steering wheel hub.
Hyundai includes a head-up display here to help keep a serious driver’s eyes from being diverted too far from the road. That head-up screen is retractable too, if you find it too invasive. I put it down most of my drive.
There’s a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel with the usual assortment of buttons for radio, phone, smart cruise control and computer.
Seats are racy perforated leather buckets with excellent side support, especially for the driver’s back. Front seats also are heated, but manually adjusted, including a pump handle to raise and lower the driver’s seat.
I found the car roomy and comfortable and that third door makes it easy for back seat passengers to get into the small coupe. This is reminiscent of the former Saturn coupe design. Legroom is a bit limited in back, but headroom wasn’t bad for moderate-sized adults. I also found the front seat shoulder belts, although easy to reach, at a somewhat awkward angle for my shoulders. I was always tugging at the driver’s belt to readjust it.
Below the touchscreen and center stack is a wireless charging station that was easy to slip a cell phone into and get a boost while driving. With a black encased phone laying on the black pad it was easy to forget the phone when exiting the car though.
Overhead is a sunroof with shade and the sun visors flipped and slid to aid in blocking low-angle fall sun (remember that?) rays. There’s also an SOS emergency alert system overhead.
One interior bug that got to me after a couple days, a dash rattle. These are rare these days and this one sounded like sleet hitting the windshield, but appeared to be coming from under the dash’s midsection. It was hard to track down, but not something I would anticipate occurring in many new cars.
Some also may not anticipate so many safety devices in a low-cost coupe, but Hyundai delivers with a blind-spot warning system, smart cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and camera, high-beam headlight assist, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, plus lane keep assist. All that for less than $30 grand.
Gas mileage also is a plus in Veloster. I got 30.4 miles per gallon in driving that was heavier on the city than highway this time. The EPA says to expect 28 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.
It would be hard not to enjoy a sporty hatch like this, with just enough power to be interesting coupled with good handling that makes driving a bit more fun. Price is right too, from the bottom to top of the line!
FAST STATS: 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Ultimate
Hits: Snazzy looks, stylish interior, fun handling and decent power w/3 drive modes. Good supportive leather heated seats, easy touchscreen w/volume/tuning knobs, wireless phone charger, sunroof, ample safety equipment and good gas mileage.
Misses: Stiff ride, shoulder belts at awkward angle and rattle in dash.
Made in: Ulsan, South Korea
Engine: 1.6-liter, 4 cylinder turbo, 201 horsepower
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 2,987 lbs.
Length: 166.9 in.
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
Cargo: 19.9/44.5 cu. ft.
MPG: 30.4 (tested)
Base Price: $27,535 (includes delivery)
7-speed dual clutch automatic, $1,500
Carpeted floor mats, $125
Test vehicle: $29,160
Sources: Hyundai, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage