Starting Price: $19,385
Engine: 147-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway)
Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Similar: Civic hatchback, Mini Hardtop, Volkswagen Beetle

 

With the 2019 Hyundai Veloster, the Korean automaker is counting on this unique, sporty hatchback to not only attract younger buyers to the brand, but the company also wants to use this attractively priced model as sort of a “reverse halo” to add a bit of luster to the lineup. It’s an ambitious goal, given that the previous sporty halo car, the Genesis Coupe, didn’t quite have the same cachet as a Camaro or Mustang and was ultimately doomed when the upscale Genesis brand took the sedan version and platform away from the more mainstream Hyundai lineup.

To that end, Hyundai has given the Veloster a much bolder look, added an upscale Turbo Ultimate model and generally has tweaked, upgraded and revamped the car, making it much more competitive in a small yet stable segment. Even as crossover SUVs have taken a huge bite out of sedan sales, Hyundai believes that the sport compact hatchback segment is large enough at about 2 percent of the total market to warrant a presence here. As a result, the company is looking to tout the Veloster’s virtues against other sporty hatchbacks as well as some of the subcompact crossovers flooding the market.

Unique body style

What sets the Veloster apart from other sporty hatches is its unique 3-door setup, plus the accessibility of a rear hatch. From the driver’s side, it looks like a coupe and has a long door that facilitates rear seat access if need be. But walk around to the passenger side and there are two more doors, which gives it the look of a regular 4-door hatch with a swoopy roofline. The rear door is nicely integrated into the body with a door handle that’s hidden where the door meets the C-pillar.

There has been a significant upgrade in the look of the car with new front and rear fascias, a faster roofline and more pronounced fenders and wheel arches. These changes, along with a remake of the interior, give the Veloster a more serious look and feel. The large cascading grille has a black mesh texture along with a lower splitter with red detailing on the leading edge. The grille is flanked by large air inlets and small openings that help funnel air through the front wheel arches making the car more aerodynamic and quieter inside thanks to a reduction in wind noise. Signature LED running lights below the headlamps (which have an LED option as well) give the 2019 Veloster an upscale, muscular look.

In profile, the Velosters at Premium and higher levels are equipped with 18-inch wheels that help fill up the wheel wheels. Top line Turbo Ultimate models also have a contrasting black roof. At the rear, the lower diffuser is more pronounced, there are two large round tips that are part of a longer dual exhaust system, and the hatch release has been hidden beneath the pivot for the rear wiper blade.

Spirited driving

We didn’t get a chance to sample the 2.0 Base or Premium models, which are powered by a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter normally aspirated 4-cylinder with 132 lb-ft of torque. That engine has been upgraded over the current base powerplant to make 15 more horsepower and 12 lb-ft more torque. The Turbo models (R-Spec, Turbo and Turbo Ultimate) use the previous gen’s 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. This more powerful engine is rated at 26 mpg combined, 33 highway and 29 city when equipped with the 6-speed manual, or 28 mpg combined, 34 highway and 30 city, thanks to the 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

The turbo four is a stout motor, with virtually no lag. The Turbo R-Spec with the 6-speed manual is particularly fun to drive if you like rowing your own gearbox. Big improvements to clutch takeup and the tight, short throws of the B&M Racing shifter and linkage, make the 2019 Veloster plenty of fun to drive. It’s quick and nimble and goes exactly where you point it. The steering feel is much improved, though still not quite as razor sharp as the action on, say, a Volkswagen GTI.

The ride is well controlled without being harsh and there’s plenty under the hood to keep you amused when the road begins to bend. The Turbo Ultimate model likewise has the same road holding manners as the R-Spec (there’s no real difference in spring or shock rates), but the 7-speed dual clutch transmission provides clean, smooth shifts and there are both paddles and a manual mode on the gear shift to allow you to sequentially select gears. This newfound agility is in no small part a result of changing the rear suspension from a twist beam to a multi-link setup. Aluminum suspension components also reduce the Veloster’s unspring weight, which contributes to the Veloster’s athletic feel. Veloster is equipped with Normal, Sport and Smart driving modes. The change from Normal alters the throttle response, steering feel and shift logic on the automatic transmission.

Adding to the fun factor is the active engine sound that enhances the exhaust note and delivers some of that aural excitement through the vehicle’s sound system. The enhanced sound can be turned off, or activated in the sport mode and further increased with a third mode accessible through the vehicle settings menu. While Hyundai offers this system to beef up the muscular sound of the Veloster, at the same time it has made strides to lower overall noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) with a stiffer structure and improved insulation.

Braking feel on the car is linear and surefooted thanks to 4-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, which provides maximum stopping power when a panic stop is detected.

Perhaps one of the best values in the entire lineup from a fun-to-drive perspective is the Turbo R-Spec. It’s priced at $23,785, just $150 more than the 2.0-liter Premium, but is equipped more like the 2.0 Base. But for that money, you also get black 18-inch wheels vs. the base model’s standard 17-inch alloy wheels, the more powerful 1.6-liter turbo motor and the slick shifting 6-speed manual. Decked out in black, the Turbo R-Spec is an affordable pocket rocket that will give the Civic Si a run for its money.

Premium look inside

The 2019 Hyundai Veloster uses a twin cockpit approach to its interior design.  Hyundai has done a masterful job of blending both touchscreen controls on its large center display and conventional switches and buttons for the radio and HVAC system. Base models have 7-inch displays, while uplevel Premium and all Turbo models have the larger 8-inch screen. Also offered on the Veloster is a new 8.0-inch head-up display that can display safety, navigation and audio information. When sport mode engages, the display shows a tach, digital speed and selected gear.

The interior of the Veloster has the level of materials and quality you’d expect to find in a vehicle costing over $30,000. Base and Turbo R-Spec models have cloth upholstery, while Premium and Turbo models have a blend of leather and cloth, and full leather on the Turbo Ultimate. The rear seat, which is easily accessed by the passenger-side rear door, is a 60-40 split design and folds flat which greatly increases the car’s utility factor. Hyundai also boasts that the behind the backseat cargo capacity of 19.9 cubic feet is better that the other hatchbacks in its class as well as subcompact crossovers like the Toyota C-HR (19.0), Chevy Trax (18.7), Jeep Renegade (18.5) and Mini Clubman (17.5).

Infotainment

The Veloster is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as standard equipment and on uplevel models, an Infinity 8-speaker premium audio system is available. The system includes a subwoofer and Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology, which enhances the sound of music that is delivered in compressed formats. Veloster also offers Blue Link Connected Car technology that also enables compatibility with smart watches, Google Home and Alexa.  Other Blue Link features include remote start with climate control, remote lock/unlock, and car finder. The 8-inch multimedia navigation system also features an upgraded processor for faster response and includes HD Radio Traffic and Info.

Safety

Performance, utility and the fun-to-drive aspects are high priorities for the 2019 Hyundai Veloster, but safety is not given short shrift. Even on the Base model there are standard assists like forward collision avoidance with automatic braking, lane keeping assist and automatic headlamps. Blind-spot collision warning as well as rear cross-traffic collision warning is on all Premium, Turbo and Turbo Ultimate models. Also offered on the Veloster is a driver attention warning system that monitors steering inputs and other factors to advise you when it’s time to stop and take a break. Other optional features include smart cruise control and high beam assist. All Velosters are equipped with back up cameras with dynamic parking guidelines.

2019 Hyundai Veloster
Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 104.3 in
Overall Length: 166.9 in
Overall Width: 70.9 in
Overall Height: 55.1 in
Curb Weight: 2,701-2,987 lb
Final Assembly: Ulsan, Korea

Trims and Pricing
The 2019 Hyundai Veloster is offered in five trim levels: 2.0 Base, 2.0 Premium, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo and Turbo Ultimate. Base models are equipped with a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter normally aspirated 4-cylinder, while Turbo models have a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine making 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. All models have front-wheel drive. Veloster goes on sale this summer; all prices include an $885 destination charge.

2.0 Base
Price (MSRP): $19,385
2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
6-speed manual or automatic
Forward collision avoidance assist
Lane keep assist
Driver attention alert
7-inch LCD touchscreen
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Bluetooth
Cruise Control
LED daytime running lights
Automatic headlights

2.0 Premium
Price (MSRP):
$23,635
18-inch alloy wheels
225/40R18 tires
Blind-spot collision warning
Rear cross-traffic collision warning
Proximity key with push-button start
8-inch display audio
Infinity premium audio with 8 speakers
Blue Link Connected Car
Wireless charging pad
Combination leather/cloth seating
Heated front seats

Turbo R-Spec
Price (MSRP):
$23,785
1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
6-speed manual
B&M Racing sport shifter
18-inch alloy wheels
225/40R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires
LED headlights and taillights
Proximity key with pushbutton start
Infinity Premium Audio with 8 speakers
Blue Link Connected Car
4.2-inch color TFT instrument cluster
Alloy pedals

Turbo
Price (MSRP):
$25,285
7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission
Wide sunroof
Side mirror turn signal indicators
Combination leather/cloth seating
Heated seats
Blind spot collision warning
Rear cross-traffic collision warning
Automatic climate control
Power lumbar adjust

Turbo Ultimate
Price (MSRP):
$27,535
Black two-tone roof
8-inch navigation with HD radio traffic
Leather seating
Wireless charging pad
Smart cruise control (7DCT only)
Automatic rain-sensing wipers
Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires (6MT only)
Pedestrian detection w/front collision avoidance

 

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