Hyundai's Veloster is a boldly styled hatchback with two front doors and one forward-opening rear door on the passenger side. Effectively replacing the Tiburon, the Veloster serves as a coupe opposite the new Elantra sedan. Hyundai considers the Honda CR-Z, Mini Cooper and Scion tC among the Veloster's competitors.
From all angles, the Veloster looks like no other car. Its far-out design will draw comparisons with the Nissan Juke, but a longer, lower and slightly wider stature makes the Hyundai more of a car than a crossover.
Hyundai says the Veloster's styling was inspired by high-performance motorcycles, and the black A-pillars are meant to give the appearance of a wraparound helmet shield to the windows. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard, and 18-inch versions are optional, as are a chrome grille surround, fog lights, piano-black accents and a panoramic moonroof. The rear features a center-mounted tailpipe. A gloss-black diffuser panel is optional.
Like the exterior, and perhaps even more so, the interior's shapes recall the front of a sport bike. Leather is optional on the steering wheel and shift knob, as are alloy pedals.
Because the curbside rear door is front-hinged, it can be opened independently of the front door, an improvement over other three-door models.
The Veloster includes a 7-inch touch-screen display with Bluetooth hands-free telephony, voice recognition, a USB port for video playback when the car is parked, RCA jacks, Pandora internet radio capability and the ability to download CDs and display album art. A navigation system with a backup camera is optional.
The Veloster also marks Hyundai's entry into telematics with Blue Link, a cellular-enabled suite of features similar to GM's OnStar. Features in the Essentials package include voice text messaging, remote door unlock, remote start, alarm notification, diagnostics and maintenance alerts, a recall adviser, stolen vehicle slowdown and recovery, and more. Blue Link Guidance provides turn-by-turn navigation, point-of-interest search and traffic features separate from the optional navigation system.
Under the Hood
The sole engine, as of the Veloster's introduction, is a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder that drives the front wheels through the buyer's choice of a six-speed manual transmission or dual-clutch six-speed automatic. The technology combines with a relatively low 2,584-pound curb weight to deliver an estimated 40 mpg on the highway.
Airbags in the Veloster include two frontal, two front-seat-mounted side-impact, and front and rear side curtain airbags. As required of all 2012 models sold in the U.S., antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard.
The car comes with a trial period of Blue Link Assurance, which includes several safety provisions similar to those offered by GM's OnStar: Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance SOS Emergency Assistance, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance.