The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is so good, I would consider trading in my nine-month old, family-friendly SUV for one, especially if they built a wagon version.
The exterior’s “fluidic-sculpture” design is, in a word, stunning. Bulbous headlamps with LED markers make their way up the front façade to a muscularly-styled hood, graced with a set of almost-believable faux air scoops.
Adding to the design, my tester Veloster is equipped with the optional “Style” package (18” two-tone wheels, panoramic glass roof, fog lamps, upgraded trim and audio). To me, the most striking visual element is the full-size third passenger door, located on the passenger rear side of the vehicle.
Inside of the Veloster’s cabin, the fluid-sculpture design theme continues, with elements designed to mimic a sport bike, or “crotch rocket,”. According to Hyundai, the tall, steeply-raked windshield evokes styling cues reminiscent of a motorcycle helmet visor, while the center stack and audio/HVAC controls emulates a sport bike’s fuel tank.
The air vents are inspired by motorcycle tailpipes, and the floor console mirrors a bike’s seat. What you won’t find in a sport bike are the myriad of features that are included in the test car’s $2,000 “Tech” package (Satellite radio, backup camera with parking sensors, navigation system).
The best feature is the customizable seven-inch, touch-screen multimedia/navigation display, complete with rearview camera, gaming console compatibility (through an RCA-style jack and a 115-volt outlet), Bluetooth audio streaming, and Pandora® internet radio.
Powering the Veloster is Hyundai’s 1.6-L “Gamma” four-cylinder, direct-fuel-injected engine. This is the same all-aluminum mill found in the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. It produces an identical 138 HP and 123 lb-ft of torque. Mated with my test car’s standard six-speed manual transmission, the Gamma feels quick and lively, with great mid-range power and a glorious pull at high revs. During a week of driving, the car averaged over 34.5 MPG; truly respectable, considering my lead-footed driving style.
Hyundai also offers an automated, six-speed, dual-clutch transmission (DCT) as a $1,250 option.
The Veloster’s taut ride and handling characteristics come courtesy of a Macpherson strut-type setup with 24 mm stabilizer bar up front and a light-weight “V-torsion beam” with coil springs and hydraulic mono-tube shocks in the rear.
The “V-torsion beam,” integrates a 23 mm stabilizer bar to allow bracing of the arms for greater stiffness and to further control body roll. The overall setup performs exceptionally well, working in perfect harmony with the electrically-assisted steering.
As-tested, a fully-loaded Veloster has a MSRP of $22,315, inclusive of a $775 freight charge. The base-model Veloster starts at $17,300, and includes standard features such as Bluetooth connectivity, power windows, door locks and mirrors, 7-inch LCD video touch-screen display, and Hyundai’s marvelous Blue Link telematics system (crash response, stolen car recovery, remote vehicle locking/unlocking, maintenance minder system).
Rumor has it; there is a 201 HP, turbocharged variant due out later this summer, with a starting price below $22,000. If the rumor is true, sign me up…I can’t wait.
Daniel Buxbaum has had a life-long passion for all things automotive. Dan’s passion for automotive journalism recently secured him a position as customer service director and contributing writer for Parts & People, a multi-region automotive trade publication. Dan also writes for Examiner.com, maintains his own blog (straightlineconcepts.wordpress.com), and is an active member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP).
If you like the 2012 Hyundai Veloster you might also like the Ford Focus and the Mazda3. Check out the video below as we Mash them up in 0-60 MPH review.