Hyundai Veloster First Drive
Hyundai’s quirky three-door Veloster is as cute as a button and a lot of fun to drive, says Isaac Bober.
Rising from humble origins as a cut-price car builder in the 1980s, Hyundai has become one of this country’s biggest and best-selling brands. And this is one of its coolest ever offerings, the Hyundai Veloster.
Like the MINI Clubman before it, the Veloster features two conventional doors for the front seats and a single door on the left-hand side of the car; the Clubman had one on the right-hand side, which puts you out in the traffic here in Australia. And that makes the Veloster more practical and appealing.
With prices starting from $23,990 (plus ORC), and crammed with a host of standard features, like 18-inch alloys, a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and with head-turning looks, the Veloster is virtually impossible to go past. All versions (besides the Veloster Turbo, obviously) are powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder making 103kW at 6300rpm and 166Nm at 4850rpm. This is mated as standard to a six-speed manual but, and this is a first for a Hyundai, a cost-optional six-speed dual-clutch transmission, developed by Hyundai in-house, is also available.
Back in the front, the Veloster looks and feels much more expensive than it is; there are soft-touch plastics everywhere, the fit and finish is first-rate, and the seats are supportive and comfortable. The back seat, however, is a little tight for taller passengers, thanks to the rake of the roof (and if you opt for the Veloster+, which is standard with a sunroof, then even the front seats have limited headroom).
My one and only gripe with the Veloster is the rear vision. Despite this car representing the best of Hyundai’s Fluidic Design (as Hyundai call their design language) the slabby rear haunches and the small rear window mean shoulder checks when overtaking have never been so important, or so tricky (read time consuming as you’ll check and double-check).
While the Veloster, on paper at least, doesn’t seem overly endowed with oomph, it never ever feels like that out on the road. A decent spread of ratios (in the manual) means the car feels more urgent than it probably is. And while Hyundais have been bashed for the rubbish tune of their electric power assist steering, the Veloster suffers no such affliction. The steering feels direct, and thanks to the well-tuned ride, and the 18-inch alloys, the Veloster is a properly fun little hatch on a twisting back road.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS
If you’re looking for an engaging little hatch that rides and handles well, looks great, and is loaded with plenty of standard kit which you usually have to pay a lot more for, then the Hyundai Veloster is the car for you. And the five-year warranty is icing on the cake.