Just Car Blog
|2012 Hyundai Veloster Review & Test Drive||
‘STRETCHING THE COUPE TO NEW BOUNDARIES’
Hyundai is making new waves here with innovation, styling, quality, performance for a fair asking price; the latest is the all-new 2012 Veloster that I just finished testing and photographing.
The all-new Veloster is a three-door coupe design with the functionality of a hatch and a passenger-side forward-hinged rear door. It features the 1.6 liter GDI (gas-direct-injected) Gamma inline 4-cylinder engine and mated to the Hyundai standard proprietary six-speed manual transmission or the optional and Hyundai’s first EcoShift dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission. Both transmissions give the Veloster up to 40mpg/highway miles.
What makes the all-new Veloster even more useful is its full complement of high-tech connectivity abilities starting with the standard multi-function seven-inch touch screen display that features Pandora internet radio capability, Gracenote display technology with voice recognition, video game console connectivity with a 115-volt power outlet, Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition, standard Blue Link telematics platform, Blue Link Assurance provides a free introductory period of complementary core safety services including Automatic Crash Notification and Assistance, SOS Emergency Assistance, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Blue Link Essentials provides Voice Text Messaging, Remote Door Unlock/Lock, Remote Horn & Lights, Panic Notification, 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 and Curfew.
Blue Link Guidance provides Turn-by-Turn Navigation, POI Search by advanced voice recognition system, POI Web Search & Download, Daily Route Guidance with Traffic Condition, Traffic, Gas Station Locations & Gas Prices, Eco-Coach, Restaurant Ratings, and Weather Report. This list of telematics is the most extensive of any other non-premium coupe or sedan on the market.
Veloster’s unique design takes inspiration from a high-performance sport bike. Veloster has distinctive black A-pillars that give the glass a motorcycle helmet visor appearance. In the front is an aggressive form of Hyundai’s signature hexagonal front grille, hood scoop detailing, and unique Hyundai-signature LED position lights. Optional packages add a chrome grille surround, piano black highlights, fog lights and a massive dual panoramic sunroof that makes the entire roof length glass to decrease weight and lower the center of gravity.
In profile the Veloster features ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ character lines, a deep scallop below each door, muscular wheel arches, bodycolor door handles and mirrors, and wraparound headlights and taillights. The Veloster comes standard with 17 inch alloy wheels and offers two types of 18 inch wheels. The top-of-the-line 18 inch wheels that I had shod on my test model had painted inserts, a segment first and a real eye-catcher.
Veloster’s dynamic rear design has a distinctive glass hatch with spoiler, dual centered chrome rectangular exhaust outlets, a segment first, and a black lower fascia that complements the assertive front fascia.
Inside you’ll notice that the entire dashboard and doors are covered in black carbon fiber weave and that the center stack and controls resemble a sport bike fuel tank and incorporate an optional push-button start/stop in the lower center of the stack. The air vents are inspired by motorcycle tailpipes; while the floor console mirrors the deeply cut comfortable and supportive front bucket seats. Metallic accents abound throughout the interior and give the interior a more spacious look and feel. Alloy pedals and a leather wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel and shift knob are optional. All dials, switches and buttons are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel. The instrument cluster is also easy to see and understand.
Veloster combines the style of a coupe and the functionality of a hatchback, while also incorporating an additional passenger-side door. In the past, some coupes have used smaller rear-hinged access doors. These coupes have always been compromised by having to open the driver-side door before the rear door could be opened, proving to be inconvenient for both the driver and passenger, and extremely difficult to operate in tight parking lot situations. Hyundai’s fresh take here implements a conveniently hinged door on the passenger side of the Veloster, providing safe and ready access to the surprisingly spacious rear seats. It is also convenient for loading or unloading cargo when the second-row seats are folded. The passenger-side rear door handle is hidden to maintain the coupe design. Another Hyundai first that works!
Moving the all-new Veloster forward is the all-new Gamma 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine that is the smallest Hyundai engine to use Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI). GDI helps deliver highway fuel economy of 40mpg, lower emissions and higher reliability. Despite its small size it deliver big numbers like 138hp at 6,300rpm and 123lb.ft. of torque at 4,850rpm. But GDI is only part of the story as the new Gamma also features dual continuously variable valve timing, an electronic throttle control, a roller timing chain, variable induction and innovative anti-friction coatings such as CrN physical vapor deposition coating and diamond like carbon coating.
Hyundai’s commitment to making the Gamma engine extremely fuel efficient continues by pairing it with a standard silky-smooth, close-ratio, six-speed manual transmission that I used in my test Veloster, or an optional, all-new six-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission developed by Hyundai.
Even though the hp and torque number are under 150hp the Veloster didn’t seem like ‘dead-wood’ when accelerating on city streets or merging into fast moving freeways inLos Angeles. Its low weight of just 2,584lbs. is 400lbs. lighter than a new Scion tC and more than 80lbs. lighter than a new Mini Cooper S. I was truly impressed with how quickly the Veloster gained speed when I shifter from first into third then forth gears.
The low weight also helps with agility and handling capability, not to mention the unique suspension system up front and in the rear.
The Veloster is fitted with a MacPherson strut front setup with coil springs, gas shocks and a 24mm stabilizer bar. The rear setup features a lightweight V-torsion beam, a Hyundai first with an integrated 23mm stabilizer bar to allow bracing of the arms for greater stiffness and to further control body roll. The rear setup also features monotube shocks for ride comfort. I was impressed at how well this front-wheel-drive vehicle responded to my steering inputs but that is also because the Veloster features a sport-tuned electric power steering system that adjusts instantly to changing driving conditions while improving fuel economy over a hydraulic system. A quick-ratio steering rack is used for crisp feel on turn-in. The Veloster’s turning diameter is just 34.1ft., better than the Scion tC’s 37.4ft., Honda’s CR-Z’s 35.4ft., and Mini’s 35.1ft.
Veloster stops with authority thanks to large, power-assisted steel disc brakes at all four corners. Up front are 11 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers while 10.3 inch solid discs in the rear are clamped with large single-piston calipers. Keeping you in control during severe braking maneuvers is standard ABS, BA, EBD, Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control all working together to keep you on track.
Veloster protects you and your passengers with six airbags-up front, front seat-mounted impact bags, full side-curtain airbags, five 3-point safety belts with pretensioners/load limiters up front, tire pressure monitoring system, front and rear crumple zones plus steel beams in each door.
In the digital age everyone wants to be connected to their electronics at all times so as mentioned earlier, Veloster comes with a seven-inch touch screen display to operate the aforementioned devices.
Veloster is available with two audio systems, a standard 196-watt AM-FM-satellite radio-CD-MP3 audio system with six-speakers and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks. A 450-watt Dimension Premium Audio system with eight-speakers including an eight-inch subwoofer and external amplifier are optional. Also available is a navigation system.
The all-new Veloster is something very special with its unique design, functionality, performance, and featuring the latest in connectivity to keep all electronics enthusiasts happy as they drive their new Veloster.
- Price: Base Veloster $17,300.00 / $21.395.00 as tested loaded
- Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder 138 horsepower @ 6300 rpm / 123 ft-lbs. @ 4850 rpm
- Track: f/r-61.3/61.8in.
- Ground clearance: 5.6in.
- Coefficient of drag: 0.32
- Headroom: f/r-37.2/35.3in. with sunroof
- Legroom: f/r-43.9/31.7in.
- Passenger volume: 80.8cu.ft.
- Cargo volume: 15.5cu.ft. with seats up/34.7cu.ft. with seats down
- Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
- 0-60 mph: 8.8 seconds
- EPA mileage: 28mpg/city, 40mpg/highway
|2012 Hyundai Veloster: First Drive||
The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is a rolling contradiction in terms. It’s a halo car for Hyundai, meant to lure new customers into the brand, yet it’s priced comparably to a well-equipped Hyundai Elantra. It’s compact in size, yet it has an honest-to-God rear seat, with enough head and leg room to accommodate six-footers. It’s only got 138 horsepower, yet the dual-clutch, paddle-shifted automatic is surprisingly entertaining to drive. Finally, it’s a coupe, but it has three doors (four, if you count the hatch).
Perhaps the Veloster’s most unique feature is the second door on the passenger side, for access to the rear seats. It sounds like a gimmick, but it’s both surprisingly functional and surprisingly well hidden, since the Veloster’s designers went to great lengths to blend the second door into the bodywork. Even the door handle is cleverly disguised in front of the C-pillar, and more than one passenger will search in vain for a door handle inside the front door frame.
If you like Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” design (and we do), chances are good you’ll love the look of the Veloster. To my eyes, it’s like a better-looking version of the Volkswagen Scirocco, which is pure unobtanium on this side of the pond. Stare at the Veloster long enough, and you can’t help but think of another revolutionary coupe, the Honda CRX. Hyundai insists that any resemblance is purely coincidental, and we believe them. Targeting a 25 year old car as a benchmark, regardless of how successful the model was, isn’t anyone’s idea of how to sell cars today.
Still, I’ll defend my case. Like the original CRX, the Veloster has a fresh, wind-cheating hatchback design. Like the CRX, the Veloster is meant to be fun to drive, even while returning up to 40 miles per gallon. Like the CRX, the Veloster is targeted to younger buyers, and should have huge support from aftermarket performance and style vendors in the coming months. Also, like the CRX, the Veloster is priced for the unwashed masses, not the six-figure-income elite few.
That’s where the similarities end. The CRX was a two seater, while the Veloster will comfortably carry four adults. Unlike the CRX, the Veloster comes chock full o’ cutting edge technology, including Hyundai’s BlueLink telematics system, a 7-inch multifunction display, Gracenotes music recognition with Bluetooth voice command, a USB input, an iPhone / iPod input and Pandora compatibility for music streaming. Opt for the Technology Package (which requires you to buy the Style Package) and you’ll get navigation with real-time traffic updates, rear backup warning sensors, a rear view camera and a 115 volt power outlet in the front.
The most expensive Veloster currently on the market tops out at just over $22,000 when you tack on the Style and Tech pacakeages, which is very impressive for the content delivered. What you don’t get are luxury options such as leather seats or heated seats or automatic climate control; what you do get is technology and style unlike anything else on the market today.
Perhaps the best comparison is between the Veloster and the Honda CR-Z hybrid. The Veloster delivers 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway when equipped with the dual-clutch, six speed automatic transmission. The CR-Z, on the other hand, delivers 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway; while the CR-Z outshines the Veloster in city fuel economy, the Veloster gets the win in highway fuel economy, so we’ll call it a draw. Opt for a CR-Z with nav, and it will cost you about $2,000 more than the Veloster, which gives you more interior room plus a back seat to haul passengers with. The Veloster also comes with 17-inch wheels standard, and 18-inch wheels with either the Style or Tech packages. The CR-Z comes with 16-inch wheels, with 17-inch wheels a dealer-installed option.
On the road, I’d give the nod to the Veloster’s available dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It feels quicker than the six speed manual, although the only measurements performed were using a butt-dyno. The new automatic will actually hold a gear to near-redline, fixing one of my biggest complaints about earlier Hyundai Shiftronic transmissions. Gear changes aren’t sport-transmission quick, but they’re not slow, either, which makes the automatic a reasonable compromise for daily driving and weekend fun.
To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the six-speed manual in the Veloster. Gear ratios seemed taller than with the automatic (although they really aren’t), and acceleration was leisurely with the manual, compared to acceptable with the automatic. It feels like the 1.6-liter Gamma engine uses a heavy flywheel to smooth things out, which makes the gear change from first to second a bit harsh. I didn’t like the plastic feel of the shifter, although gear changes were short enough, with clearly defined gates, to still be satisfying.
That brings up the issue of the engine. For now, the Veloster is available with Hyundai’s 1.6-liter Gamma engine only. It’s good for 138 horsepower and 123 ft-lb of torque, so those looking for a true hot hatchback experience will probably be disappointed. On the plus side, the Veloster delivers near-hybrid fuel economy, making it the ideal commuter car.
As for handling, the Veloster is likely to surprise you. The body itself is stiffer than the Volkswagen Scirocco, which Hyundai used as a benchmark. The nicely-weighted steering provides a surprising amount of feedback, and turn-in is immediate, with very little body roll. The Veloster is a light car, so it likes to be tossed into corners with enthusiasm. Purists will complain that it lacks a four-wheel independent suspension, but the vast majority of drivers won’t ever probe the handling limits of the Veloster’s coupled-torsion rear axle.
So what’s the bottom line? The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is a sporty car that’s packed with all the technology and safety features you could want, wrapped in sexy sheetmetal and delivered at a sensible price. While Hyundai answered questions about a Veloster Turbo with a flat “we don’t comment on future models,” such a variant makes perfect sense and would be more to the liking of driving enthusiasts. If you want a Veloster now, I’d suggest you pay a visit to your Hyundai dealer soon; like the Elantra, I suspect Hyundai will sell all the Velosters they can build.