2021 Hyundai Veloster N - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
It's the leader of the pack
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Hyundai's race track tuned version of their small family sedan is a fabulous success. This road burner has been conceived and executed to the Nth degree. It will post performance numbers that put to shame muscle cars of yore like the Pontiac GTO and Shelby Mustang GT 350. The N runs standing start quarter miles in less than 14 seconds at speeds over 100mph. It will sprint from 0-60mph in under 6 seconds, and top out at 155mph. All this thrust from a usefully shaped hatchback with a curbside third door for back seat access. And for its second year of production in 2021, the Veloster N offers an 8-speed wet dual clutch automatic transmission in addition to the 6-speed manual introduced last year. At a base price of $32,250, this Hyundai has to be the most affordable ultra high performance family sedan on the market today.
To be sure, the Veloster N finds itself chased by a crowd of quick and affordable street machines, like the VW Jetta GLI and Golf GTI, Honda Civic Si and Type R. But the reason the Veloster N outpaces the pack is its attention to detail, the kind of laser focus only racing can produce. While VW's performance cars are living off past success at the track, and Honda's Civics are finding the way to victory circle blocked by Hyundai, the Veloster N is cleaning house in Touring Car races across the board. In IMSA's Michelin Tire Series, for example, Brian Herta's team of Veloster Ns swept the championship last year. That attention to detail shows in every facet of the Veloster we drove. For example, the front seats in the N are revised this year, substantially lighter and more supportive than before. If you scoured the internet looking for the optimal racing seat for street use, you couldn't find a better example than this one.
Those artfully upholstered seats, each complete with a central racing stripe to match the N's "Performance Blue" exterior paint, are deep enough and sufficiently high bolstered to withstand the N's violent cornering propensity. This Veloster will generate 1.0 g of side loading because Hyundai has equipped it with 19 inch starfish-look alloys shod with Pirelli P Zero tires designed specifically for this application. The giveaway is the sidewall designation of "HN" which follows the sizing nomenclature of 235/35R19. HN stands for Hyundai N. These extra soft tires, which carry a treadwear rating of TW280, serve as the final link in a chain of design brilliance that allows the Veloster to adhere to the pavement like a wad of fresh gum.
We drove the 6-speed manual transmission version of the N. You save 141 pounds of curb weight by opting for the manual gearbox. It's also a lot more fun to drive than any automated gearbox, since the engagement point of the clutch feels perfectly weighted, and the gates of the 6-speed are so well defined it's impossible to misjudge a shift. The dashboard illuminates a band of upshift lights that progress from blue to amber to red as the need to snatch a higher gear becomes mandatory at redline. It's just another racing trick Hyundai has imported from action at the track. Similarly, the "N Corner Carving Differential" equips the Veloster with an electronically controlled limited slip unit to minimize wheelspin and torque steer from the car's front wheel drive configuration. The low-rpm performance of the 2.0 liter twin scroll turbo motor also helps launch the N from a standing start with minimal fuss because this engine generates maximum torque of 260lb.-ft. at just 1450rpm. When you lay into the aluminum ribbed accelerator pedal, the N leaps without hesitation to its power peak of 275hp at 6000rpm.
Last year, Hyundai required payment of $2,100 extra for a "Performance Package" which is now standard on all N models of the Veloster. In addition to stylistic identification, the standard 2021 N also provides upgraded brakes, sport-tuned power steering, LED projector headlights, active engine sound, and illuminated "N" logos embedded in the headrests of the front seats. But in keeping with the practicality of the Veloster design, this barely tamed track car can easily function as your daily driver thanks to the convenience of its back seat access door and handy hatchback design.
We thought that the N's graphic treatment did a commendable job of transforming the Veloster's homely shape into a purposeful looking package. Playing a major role are the model specific front splitter, rear diffuser, side strakes, and high mounted rear wing, all embellished with striking red inserts. We parked next to a Mini Countryman whose owners asked how we liked the Veloster N. "It's fantastic," we replied, thinking just how frumpy their Mini looked when pitted next to this tantalizing newcomer.
2021 HYUNDAI VELOSTER N
ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, twin scroll turbocharged, GDI
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 22MPG City/28MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $33,245
HYPES: Performance Bonanza
GRIPES: Restricted Rear Vision
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10