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2012 Hyundai Veloster Review by Marty Bernstein +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Hyundai Veloster


By Marty Bernstein
Sr. Editor-at-Large

SEE ALSO: Hyundai Buyers Guide

Portland, Oregon...recently

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Hyundai Veloster

Natives and newcomers to Portland are proud of the city’s heritage of, well, quirkiness, while tourists are amazed at the ambiance and attitude. If there was ever a near perfect city for the introduction of a quirky vehicle with great ambiance and attitude, Portland is it – making it the perfect venue to launch the new 2012 Hyundai Veloster.

The geometric styling of Hyundai’s Veloster – they call it Fluidic Design - draws your eye as you first approach it. You notice something is different about this sport coupe. Whether it’s the creative glass cut-outs that adorn the hatchback or the Veloster’s aggressive profile with angles and lines that would make a rhombus jealous, there is something – as the French say, "je ne sais quoi" - about this car that makes the Veloster stand out beyond the design lines.

Then you notice a seam on the passenger side and it dawns on you, this coupe has three doors! GM’s shuttered Saturn division was the first to introduce a third door, but the team at Hyundai has taken it to the next and more practical level this time around. Unlike its predecessor, this is as close to a full size door that is possible and it is marked improvement that allows for a real person to be able to “crawl in back”.

Watch TACH exclusive Veloster promo video

This innovative portal reveals a back bench seating arrangement that eases the transition across the cabin to provide seating for two in back. The handle is nicely hidden too. Because of the efficient configuration and use of the space in this inventive car, the rear cargo area is still intact. In fact you could “stuff” two golf bags back there.

The car projects the true feel of a roadster. From the sport’s grip feel of the steering wheel to the stiff but comfortable bucket seats, the interior is economical in its simplicity, but does so without compromising the slick styling cues that grace both the interior and exterior of this car. This styling also produced an interior cabin with a very concise array of displays that are clustered for the driver to access them safely and effortlessly.

The center waterfall starts with a modest video screen that displays and controls the navigation and the car’s media portfolio, which includes the audio (AM/FM, XM) and the interface with a phone or other PMD. This flows seamlessly into the climate controls - that are among the easiest to use on any car at any price - leading down to the ignition button. The steering wheel also contains touch point control of the infotainment and cruise control.

Another styling highlight is the interior door panel. That’s right I said the door panel, which could be in the MOMA in NYC, that’s how artistic it is. In addition to its great looks, this panel is also very functional with a large angled door pull that makes closing the door, especially for women, easy and there’s an integrated molded “water bottle” holder.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Hyundai Veloster

Once you close the door and get seated behind the wheel, you will be surprised by the roominess the interior cabin affords. The unique styling creates an almost panoramic view of the road and environs through the many glass panels incorporated in the body panels. This open air feel is only enhanced by what can only be described as a “sun, moon and all the stars” roof. This glass panel is revealed by a sliding insolated panel controlled by a switch mounted above the rear view mirror. With the cabin now awash in natural sunlight, it’s time to hit the road.

Since the base MSRP is just $22,000; it stands to reason that the engineers at Hyundai had to cut a corner somewhere. Behind the wheel, I discovered it is the low end torque. The 1.6L, GDI 4-cylinder engine had plenty of power when it hit speed, but off the line it’s… well …a bit sluggish. This lack of low end torque is more than forgotten once you start driving the Veloster, but what won’t be forgotten is the money you will save at the pump. The Veloster gets a truly amazing 29/mpg in the city and 38/mpg on the highway. And adding to the driving experience are the Veloster’s paddle shifters, which are great fun to use.

I was truly impressed with the road worthiness of this car on a variety of Oregon’s best and not-so-great Interstates, highways and in-town roads. Many of the surfaces are grooved to drain excess rain water – it does rain a lot in certain months I was told - while others are in need of maintenance. But that said, the suspension, braking and traction control of the Veloster are perfectly tuned, allowing the driver the ability to push the limits and boundaries of normal driving conditions. Your safety has not been overlooked, so if you do get into a little trouble the Veloster has your back. I would urge those who do a lot of night driving to opt for stronger headlights, the night vision eyes of the Veloster are lacking.

Watch the complete Hyundai Press Conference at Detroit Auto Show featuring the 2012 Veloster introduction

If you’re looking to see and test drive the Veloster just visit a Hyundai dealer near you. Available in lots of colors that dazzle, several trim levels that define quality and defies auto traditionalists, but provides its owner plenty of chills, thrills and thanks to the ample cup holders, no spills!

Michael Bernstein contributed to this review.