Performance Car Best Buy of 2019
- An enthusiast-driving masterpiece that won't beat you up day-to-day
- Priced like a gift, starting at $27,785 (including $885 destination charge)
- The freshest, foxiest face in the hot-hatchback market
Everybody loves the underdog. The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N has a lot of underdog DNA in it. With the new 2nd-generation Veloster now in showrooms, but still not burning up the sales charts, a way-high-performance version of the 3-door + hatch Korean hatchback seems like anything but a slam dunk in compact cars. So that, along with the underwhelming sports-car personality of the unloved Hyundai Genesis Coupe, made us look askance at the new Veloster N when it arrived as a walk-on during our Best Buys Performance Car testing.
Three laps around the short course at Willow Springs Raceway later, the huge-hearted Veloster N had seduced us into placing it into the arena and mixing it up with the best under-$40,000 sports cars that anybody had to offer. To say that the Veloster N held its own is an understatement -- it didn't just change our minds about what a Hyundai was, it completely rewrote our expectations about how much fun to drive a sub-$30,000 performance car could be.
A Dual Personality with a Duel Personality
What allowed the Veloster N to surpass the other players in our Best Buy Awards competition was its dual personality at that price point.
The car's 275-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine offers a stout 260 lb-ft of torque from 1,450 rpm all the way up to 4,700, and the 6-speed manual gearbox uses every cranking bit of that torque on the race track. True love appears in the form of the Veloster N's brilliant cockpit-customizable settings for individual driving preferences lets you tune every element of its behavior on (and off) the track, right down to the exhaust note crackling through the dual outlets flanking the rear. Click the "N" button on the lower right steering wheel once, and all of the Veloster N's track-ready settings for engine, suspension, steering and rev-matching all snap to attention, ready for battle. Click that button twice and you can customize the character of any of these settings and more. We were also taken by the N's electronically controlled, torque-vectoring limited-slip differential, its massive brakes, and exceptional steering response.
As a strict performance car, the front-wheel-drive Veloster N accelerates quickly, with short lower gears and strong low-end torque. It welcomes you quick into corners and spits you out just as cleanly. The other 99% of the time -- as a day-to-day driver -- the Veloster N is almost human in its ride, quiet and overall drivability. The suspension doesn't beat you up, the engine is tractable, and a daily stop-and-stop-and-stop-and (finally)-go traffic jam bears no risk of souring you on the car.
Full marks for the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N's transformation go to Albert Biermann, the head of the Korean company's Performance Vehicle Division. A former VP of Engineering at BMW M, Biermann helped ensure that in addition to being track-sharp, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N also felt real-world livable rather than purpose-built. Understand, the new Veloster N isn't quite as all-out quick (or roomy in back) compared to the also-stunning Honda Civic Type R, but it is a better real-world, mass-market supercar.
Not Just a Value, but an All-Out Bargain
The Veloster N is also $6,000 more accessible than the Type R, even when the Hyundai is equipped with the $2,100 N Performance Package that increases power to 275, and comes with a limited-slip differential, variable exhaust valve system and upgraded brakes. When we first heard about the Veloster N's under-$30,000 price, two of our editors lost their voice, and one fainted dead away. Any car with that much talent and technology working that hard to make itself quick, fast and still every-day companionable while costing thousands less than the average transaction price of a car these days deserves Best Buy status. The 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty offered by Hyundai doesn't hurt either. As far as resale values go, the Veloster N is still too new to gauge, but lower volume and higher desirability both help ensure that the high-performance version of a model manages to hold impressive long-term value.
Pride: This is What the Buzz is all About
While the Veloster N's interior does include sport seats and an N-design steering wheel, shift knob, instrument cluster, and Performance Blue seatbelts, it will still be familiar to anyone who's ever been in a Veloster. The exterior treatment, however, transforms the car. If you own a Veloster N painted in Performance Blue (with delicious red accents) your pride will soar. Front air ducts and a cross-hatched grille, aero side sills and killer-looking 19-inch alloy wheels (with Pirelli P Zero tires) showing off the red brake calipers, and a bold (not ostentatious or goofy) rear wing coalesce to give the Veloster N an inspired profile.
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