2012 Hyundai Veloster Review and Roadtest +VIDEO
THE NO COMPROMISE, FUTURISTICALLY DESIGNED COUPE OTHERS WILL COPY
By Marty Bernstein
Senior Editor at Large
The Auto Channel
Hyundai’s product planners and designers must have discovered the time and space continuum. How else could they create this attention grabbing, OMG futuristic moment of automotive design? This is not a concept. It is frankly the most appealing, trend setting, advanced design compact car coupe on the market today.
The look from every angle and any perspective is a “Don’t four-letter-word with me!’ design statement. The front when seen in the rearview mirror or just sitting has an assertive snarling grill with widely spaced wrap around headlights and LED accent lights. As it passes your car, Hyundai’s unique Fluidic Sculpture form continues the Veloster’s aggressive statement with deep body accent lines, bulging wheel arches and the rear of the car, the most often forgotten design element, has a greenhouse size glass hatch, wrapped tail-lights and twin dual chrome exhaust tips. Naturally there are optional exterior elements that can be added, if you’ve got the nerve.
Watch the Hyundai Veloster Reveal at 2011 Detroit Auto Show
Now coupes have two doors, right? Wrong. The Veloster has three doors: Two in front and the third behind the front row passenger’s seat. Just open the cool hidden door handle and get into the back seat. This isn’t odd, it’s very practical. It’s the end of pushing either front seat forward and the back down, so the person entering must employ yoga contortions just to get into the back seat. Get in easily, get out easily and for certain passengers, it’s more decorous too.
Like most people I peek inside a window before getting into a new car, any new car. Must be something I learned as a kid. The first view was good, getting in and looking at the dash was even better. Hyundai says the design was inspired by sport bike fuel tank, I think it was from the controls of an interplanetary space device … they don’t want the unsuspecting to recognize their time-space discovery. Its look is sleek and high-tech, very high-tech with cool metal accents and controls that will captivate those who know what they’re for and how to use ‘em. Luddites beware.
The center console features a standard multi-function really big, seven-inch touch-screen display with Pandora® internet radio capability, Gracenote® display technology with voice recognition, video game console connectivity with 115-volt power outlet, Bluetooth® hands-free phone system with voice recognition.
Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics platform and Blue Link Assurance that provides a free introductory period of complementary core safety services including automatic crash notification and assistance, SOS emergency assistance, and enhanced roadside assistance. It also provides Blue Link Essentials including every vital device and techno tchotchke known to man including: voice text messaging, remote door unlock / lock, remote horn & lights, panic notification, remote vehicle start, alarm notification, quick tips, location sharing, automated diagnostic trouble code notification, maintenance alert, monthly vehicle report, recall advisor, web vehicle diagnostics, stolen vehicle recovery, stolen vehicle slowdown, vehicle immobilization, valet alert, geofence, speed alert, curfew and more. Three subscription price levels have been established to make this feature even more attractive and affordable.
The test drive started in downtown Portland, Oregon – an interesting city in an interesting state that is probably the last bastion of San Francisco’s aging tie-dyed and Birkenstocks generation -- to Hood River, OR known as America’s best windsurfing venue. The road surfaces in Oregon go from very smooth to intentionally rough as in pebbled to whisk and wick away the rain which the state is known for during certain months, our weather though was cool and sunny. We traveled on city roads, a couple Interstates, crowded expressways, two lane – hill climbing and windy roads and the Veloster ate ‘em all up with ease and no matter the surface, there was very little exterior road noise we were able to hear. The Veloster is responsive, easy and fun to drive, agile and nimble with very little body sway and will definitely get a look of envy from pedestrians and other drivers.
But as it sometimes happens when in unfamiliar regions my co-driver and I missed a turn as we were chatting about the subject of his PhD dissertation (honest!) and were not exactly lost, just miss-routed. Terribly miss-routed. But using Hyundai’s Blue Link navigation system we were quickly redirected to our destination arriving at the lunch stop before most of the other media members. It was the easiest to use of the many navigation systems I try during test drives of new cars. Think intuitive.
On the return portion we checked out the Pandora’s internet radio – big assist from a Hyundai PR person riding with us -- and were blown away by the results. Even rather obscure jazz artists were brought up quickly. And the link to iPhones was equally good. Bravos for both.
Enuf entertainment, it’s engineering tech time. The Veloster powerplant is small but extraordinarily powerful. An all-new 1.6-liter GDI Gamma engine has 138 horsepower and produces 123 lb-ft torque making the Veloster, in my view, as the peppiest and lively vehicle in the compact category. The engine, an engineer-speak delight, has built-in features to improve reliability and performance. It is paired with proprietary Hyundai six-speed manual transmission and Hyundai’s first EcoShift dual-clutch transmission – which means one can drive in automatic drive or use paddle shifters to go through the gears – is smooth and effortless. Hyundai’s 40 mpg highway fuel rating continues unabated and unrivaled in this new vehicle.
A baroque issue for some people is the safety of smaller, compact category vehicles. This is a non-issue for the Veloster. Hyundai has an exceptional level of standard safety features for the sporty car segment starting with the using 63% high and ultra tensile strength strength steel in the frame and structure of the vehicle for a strong, light and stiff body. Veloster has a vehicle stability management (VSM) system which optimally manages electronic stability control (ESC) and the motor-driven electric power steering system (MDPS). There are six airbags—including dual front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags in the Veloster. And when is sudden stop is necessary the four-wheel disc brakes and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) including brake assist delivers maximum braking force.
The names of the Veloster’s color palate alone -- century white, ironman silver, triathlon gray, ultra black, marathon blue, electrolyte green, 26.2 yellow, vitamin c and Boston red – for exterior colors easily target Gen-Y (the under 30s) as the best potential market for the trend setting coupe. The advertising, which will launch next month continues this focus through form, content, style, language and length – the TV spots are just :15-seconds – a buyers profile that is younger.
Will Boomers and other age demo groups respond to:
(a) Veloster’s style? Yes. It’s breakthrough modern and fun.
(b) The advertising? I believe there will be some rub-off but in the main, no.
Hyundai has again developed simplified packages and trim levels for the Veloster that make making the deal at a dealers straight forward simple. And isn’t that nice. Check the end of this review for full information. The base Veloster with a six-speed manual transmission starts at $17,300 while the six speed EcoShift dual clutch model starting price is $18,500. Jazzing up the Veloster is easy too with special packaged options that may enhance the ownership and driving experience. Add title, taxes and freight.
Hyundai Assurance, the brand’s comprehensive suite of new-vehicle protection includes a 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and 5-years complimentary Roadside Assistance. That’s more than assurance, that’s confidence.
If you’re compact car coupe person, do yourself a favor and head to your Hyundai dealers for at least a test drive. You too can be a trend setter who does not compromise.