2012 Hyundai Veloster
What do we make of the two plus one door with hatch coupe-style four-seater thingy?
By Shahzad Sheikh
We like quirky here at MME, and these days you don’t get much quirkier than this car. The Hyundai Veloster was essentially a replacement for the Hyundai Coupe, but looks like a hatchback, does in fact have a have a hatch, but is sleeker and lower than a typical car of that ilk. It also has one door on the driver’s side and is asymmetrically style – the front door is longer on the driver’s side, the rear window smaller, the B-pillar in a different place to the one on the other side. Also it boasts only a 1.6-litre engine, yet it looks as if it wants to go bait a Golf GTI.
So let’s deal with the styling first. Normally I like symmetry – it’s a scientific fact that most humans find that appealing – so we should find this things awkward and ungainly.
In fact I love it – it’s got huge amounts of style and presence, and whilst the boy-racerish lower front and bulging wheelarches may seem OTT, they make this a very unique and distinctive car.
The low roofline and narrow side glass makes it sleek, the gaping grille and the hoods under the headlights give it menace, the flanks are muscular and house cool colour-coordinated 18-inch allow wheels, and the rear is a little fussy but nicely contoured plus it is evocative of the old Honda CRX with that split rear window.
Staying cool inside
Now you’re expecting me to say that as usual the snazzy outside is let down by a dour and plain inside especially for this money. Well… er… no actually. The door handles look like they belong in a disabled toilet (as my wife pointed out) but add to the multitude of interesting lines, shapes and textures presented in this cabin.
Yes it’s cheap plastic, but the moulding is so fascinating that you forgive it that much. I like the hooded cowl of the instrument panel with its jutting out dial tubes, the faux central structural supports around the gear lever, the neat way that the buttons have been arranged in the dash, the oddly-placed central starter button, the racing-bucket-shaped front seats, the sweeping gash the fascia before the passenger and even the geometric shapes on top of the dashboard.
You get the sense that someone’s actually drawn this cabin, rather than just attempted to put all the required switchgear in place. It’s also reasonably comfortable and with enough space up front. Space in the rear is tight for taller people, and there are only two seats with a tray and two cup holders in between – so the poor sod that has to sit on the side with no door, has to slide over that hump to get there, and head room is a little restricted. But it’s still comfortable enough for regular sized people.
It’s full of standard electronics including smart key, cruise control, massive sunroof, leather upholstery, climate control, trip computer, split-folding rear seats, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a decent six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth streaming and handsfree phoning.
How it goes and drives
Even before I’ve started on this bit I can hear you mouthing the word ‘gutless’. And to be fair the 1.6-litre four cylinder engine with 128bhp and 116lb ft of torque manages 0-100kph in a rather pedestrian 10.3 seconds and a top speed of 200kph. All of which on paper feels rather sluggish.
But it weighs only 1231kg, so subjectively, around town at least, feels sprightly enough. I never once felt any frustration of it being too slow, although admittedly more potency would be appreciated – well some markets do get a 200bhp Turbo version of this engine (bring it Hyundai ME, bring it!). You can improve things a little by working that six-speed automotive through the lever with its rollerball style change surface, though unless you’re really on it, why bother?
And especially if you playing the built-in game. Yep, you heard that right. In the large central display you can call up a game called ‘Blue Max’ which, as you might have surmised, encourages economical driving. Essentially it gives you 10 minutes to try and beat your own high score by rewarding you points for efficient driving. You could mock it, but start playing and it gets mildly addictive as you start challenging yourself to be thriftier and thriftier…
It’s a reasonably darty little thing though, with typical understeer although not excessively so, and keen responses at the helm. There’s nothing overtly sporty about this car however, it’s just competent and able. The ride is actually better than that on the larger Genesis Coupe, composed and well-damped and apart from a slight squeak from the rear suspension on this hard-used 5000km demonstrator, it was noise-free with very little harshness.
We’d love to try the Turbo, but even as it stands, this is an extremely likeable and appealing little car, which seems like it would be a genuinely pleasure to own – a great easy-to-use and economical-to-run daily driver that’s got personality and with style that you WILL look back at each time you park and walk away. That’s actually quite rare at this end of the market. Or would you really rather have a base-model Honda Civic for the same money? Nah, thought not…
Price: AED74,900 ($20,350)
Engine: 1.6-litre, 128bhp @ 6300rpm, 116lb ft @ 4850rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 10.3 seconds, top speed 200kph
Transmission: Six-speed auto, front-wheel drive