N versions mean economical fast fun and high fashion too …
Folks who bemoan the lack of low-cost cars, especially models that are fun to drive and exciting to look at need to be moaning less.
This week’s hot wheels came in the form a Hyundai Veloster N swathed in Performance Blue paint and featuring orange accents. Mature autophiles will immediately think Gulf Oil Le Mans racer paint scheme. Yes!
Veloster is a hot hatch and only comes in Hyundai’s performance-oriented N trim now as it focuses its marketing on younger drivers and those that particularly enjoy athletic driving. If this were a high-end car it would be considered a halo car for the brand. But Hyundai is clever, delivering the modestly priced Veloster N as a compact rocket sled of a car that delivers the racy feel that its looks promise.
First, the Veloster N comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission so the boy racers and us older folks who enjoy a clutch will be doing the happy dance.
Second, the only engine is the former performance-package boosted 2.0-liter turbo I4 that pounds out an impressive 275 horsepower. That, as far as I can find, is the most power for this market, just beating out Subaru’s impressive WRX by 7 horses.
Third, there’s a limited-slip differential underneath that cuts wheel spin and torque-steer, a common malady of high-horse front-drive wanna-be racers.
Fourth, Hyundai’s Veloster is shod in Pirelli P Zero performance tires for massive grip, IF you’re pushing the N to its limits.
Fifth, for looks and potentially for performance (top speed is 155 mph), Hyundai equips the Veloster N with a 2-stage rear spoiler that looks serious, and is.
Sixth, the drive mode selectors (blue paddles on the steering wheel hub) allow five choices, Normal, Sport and Eco on the left, N and N Custom on the right. Those firm up the suspension and quicken throttle responses for more aggressive starts. Likely you’ll only need Sport, but if you are hitting the track, the N and N Custom may be more appropriate.
Seventh, and finally, the Veloster boasts big ol’ discs front and rear for strong on-track braking. The front discs are 13.6-inchers and the rears are 12.4-inch rotors. These discs deliver a firm brake pedal feel that helps buoy a driver’s confidence. And yes, the calipers are orange to match the car’s other trim too. Cool!
Watch Mark’s cool video: Mark Savage reviews the fun 2022 Hyundai Veloster N – YouTube
The upshot is a hatchback that runs up to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, says Hyundai. And my highway entry-ramp test shows that’s possible, as are triple digits by the bottom of the ramp. Now the test car featured Hyundai’s fine 8-speed automatic, so I didn’t have to do the shifting, yet the push back into the seat was still quite effective when tromping the accelerator.
Better yet, from an aural standpoint, the tranny coordinates with the exhausts (two BIG pipes) to deliver a satisfying burble at every downshift as you lift slightly going into corners. Hey, your passenger doesn’t know you’re not doing this yourself, right?
Cornering itself is quick and tight but with only moderately firm steering effort, so the Veloster isn’t tiring at all and encourages a driver to clip off a corner’s apex while getting quick on the gas for maximum exit speed.
The price you pay, as in most sports-oriented cars, is a stiff ride that only gets stiffer in the performance driving modes. Even in Normal the ride is so firm you’ll want to dodge as many potholes as possible, although ironically, railroad tracks didn’t seem to upset the suspension much.
Veloster’s fun is in its quick throttle response and steering, sort of like a very refined go-kart.
Inside the Veloster N looks as special as its exterior with N logos on door sills, shifter and seat backs. Seats are black cloth and faux leather with a blue racing stripe up the middle of each front seat and chrome trim bejeweled with the N logo, just below the headrest. A textured dark gray trim keeps the doors and dash serious looking and prevents interior reflections.
The manual front seats are extremely supportive, especially for the hips and lower back, and the driver gets a pump handle on the seat’s outward edge to raise and lower the seat, making an easy adjustment for tall or short drivers.
Hyundai continues with stylish and practical dash layout that is simple and driver friendly. The center info screen is a modest 8 inches, but wisely not a distraction and easy to tune. Buttons for it and climate controls are large and intuitive.
Veloster’s rear seat is primarily for storage and slipping small folks in for a quick drive to the grocery. Surprisingly there’s a third door here too. It’s on the passenger’s side with the release built into the rear side window trim, so relatively unnoticeable. That small rear door opens forward like a regular door too, helping rear seat riders gain easier access than flipping the passenger seat forward. It also is helpful for loading groceries into the rear seat.
Storage room under the hatch is reasonable and the rear seats split and fold down.
Other pluses inside include an Infinity stereo with 8 speakers, although you’ll need to crank it a bit to hear as the interior is fairly noisy, not helped by the performance tires. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity, an overhead SOS system and satellite radio, although that’s a 90-day trial.
Missing is a wireless charger, although a 12-volt, USB plug and phone charger outlet are in the open bin just below the center stack.
I’d also like to see a D-shaped (flat-bottom) steering wheel to go along with the car’s racy looks, and although it would add cost, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel would be preferred for our climate. There’s also no sunroof here, but if you’re intending this for some track time, such a roof is probably not a priority.
Safety features that are useful, such as blind-spot warning, stability control, forward-collision avoidance assist, lane following assist and keeping are standard, and the lane keeping can be turned off. Bravo! No smart cruise here, but again, this is a driver’s car.
Gas mileage is decent for a performance-oriented car, rated 20 mpg city and 27 highway. I split the difference at 22.9 mpg in aggressive highway and normal city driving.
Now to the pricing, the most pleasant surprise for those bemoaners. The 6-speed manual-equipped Veloster N lists at $33,545, including delivery, while the tested automatic goes for $35,005 with delivery. There were no options.
That’s a modern marvel of economy as the average new vehicle cost exceeds $45,000. Note too that there are several other modest cost performance hatchbacks or sedans available for car lovers and those who enjoy driving.
Honda’s Civic Si has considerably less power, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is closer and has a nice ride, considering, and the Subaru WRX is just a smidge under Veloster’s power, but starts several thousand dollars lower. Next week, I’ll be driving Toyota’s GR86 sports coupe. So we’ll see how it stacks up.
FAST STATS: 2022 Hyundai Veloster N
Hits: Hot hatch with spoiler, racy steering feel, bodacious power, super grip, supportive seats, stylish dash with easy buttons and info screen, third door, pump handle to raise seat height, high-value pricing.
Misses: No wireless charger, heated seats or steering wheel, no sunroof, stiff ride, cramped rear seat. Needs a D-shaped steering wheel.
Made in: Ulsan, South Korea
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 275 hp/260 torque
Transmission: 8-speed wet dual clutch automatic
Weight: 3,106 lbs.
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
Length: 167.9 in.
Cargo: 19.9-44.5 cu.ft.
MPG: 20/ 27
MPG: 22.9 (tested)
Base Price: $35,005 (includes delivery)
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $35,005
Sources: Hyundai, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage