By Micah Muzio - Updated Date: 10/3/2011
In simplest terms the all-new 2012 Hyundai Veloster is a modestly-priced hatchback with an unusual asymmetrical door arrangement, but in Hyundai's eyes, the Veloster is much more. Hyundai views the Veloster as something of a halo car, albeit at the bottom end of the pricing spectrum. That might sound like a lofty view of what is essentially a restyled Elantra, but having driven the 2012 Veloster and seen the public react to it, we think Hyundai might be onto something with all this halo talk. While less powerful than most of its hatchback competitors, the Hyundai Veloster's accessible price, unusual but practical design, excellent fuel economy and utterly unique styling should make it a welcome addition to the compact coupe landscape and an image-enhancing feather in Hyundai's cap.
You'll like the Hyundai Veloster if you want a fun-to-drive, cool-looking hatchback coupe that is also practical and exceptionally fuel efficient.
Though great consideration went into the Veloster's asymmetrical door design – one door on the driver side, two on the passenger side – the results aren't perfect. The rear seats are tight for taller passengers and accessing them via the narrow right-side rear door can be tough. Those hoping for sedan-like rear-seat access in a coupe might want to scale back their expectations.
The 2012 Veloster's stylish looks and odd three-door arrangement are likely focal points, but fuel economy numbers up to 37 mpg on the highway and a price tag that undercuts all of its key competitors are also worth noting.
Firmly press the Hyundai Veloster's throttle pedal, and the vehicle responds by delivering casual acceleration, and even then only if the Veloster is in a gear that keeps the engine revs above 4,000 rpm or so. Pure power may not be Veloster's strong suit but solid fuel economy help make up for that fact. When it comes to choosing a transmission, you really can't go wrong. The 6-speed manual features short throws with positive engagement and a forgiving easy-to-use clutch pedal, while the optional 6-speed automatic reacts with appropriate urgency to throttle changes delivering quick, smooth shifts. Other 2012 Veloster high points include a forgiving-yet-planted ride and nicely weighted steering that provides a strong feeling of connectedness between the driver and the road. Ahem, we should also mention that there is a large blind spot over the driver's right shoulder, so be sure to adjust your mirrors accordingly.
New Hyundai Veloster buyers can select special 18-inch wheels that feature a special center section painted in their car's body color. We remember seeing removable, paintable parts on aftermarket wheels years ago, but this is the few appearances of body-colored wheels straight from the manufacturer.
Navigation is still an added-cost option, but Hyundai smartly decided to include the nav system's high-res 7-inch touch-screen as standard equipment. Paired with Pandora Internet radio integration, Gracenote music organization, and a port that allows the connection of a video game console the 2012 Hyundai Veloster coupe/hatchback's standard touch screen forms the core of a very solid information and entertainment system.