While small crossover SUVs are all the rage, Hyundai believes there are those who would rather have a low-slung, sports coupe, so it offers the Veloster, which it has redesigned for 2019.
The new Veloster looks much the same as before. It still features its unique door arrangement, one door on the driver side and two doors on the passenger side. As before, they are skillfully integrated so that both sides look alike. Beyond that, the designers smoothed out front facia, and gave the Veloster a more elaborate styling in the rear.
Inside, the cabin got makeover too. It draws a lot from its crossover sibling, the Kona. There’s a lot of hard plastic, to be sure, but it is finely textured and attractive. The seats are supportive and comfortable. Upper-range models are covered with perforated leather or a leather and cloth combination. A new tablet-like touchscreen on the dash highlights the infotainment system. This system, which includes redundant knobs for radio, and clearly marked buttons and dials for climate control, is very user-friendly.
Accommodations inside are fine for the driver and front passenger, but the seats in the rear are suitable for kids only. Furthermore, you better watch your head getting in and out of the back, or the sloping roof will get you. The hatchback storage area holds nearly 20 cubic-feet of your goodies—not bad for a sub-compact—and the rear seatbacks fold down for additional cargo. However, the narrow glass area on the hatch itself severely restricts the view to the rear.
Under the hood, buyers have a choice of two different drive trains. Lower range models get a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower. It’s teamed with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Enthusiasts will bypass that setup, and go for the two-liter turbo that cranks out 201 horses. It’s hooked up to a six-speed manual, or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Gas mileage for the Veloster is satisfactory at 30-31 mpg, depending on the model you drive.
My test car came equipped with the turbo engine and the dual-clutch automatic. Acceleration was swift, and the turbo delivered a throaty growl when I hit the gas. Drivers can also select a “Sport” mode to quicken throttle response, alter the shift points and firm up the steering. I chose the Sport setting while driving my favorite back road, and the Veloster really came alive.
Hyundai gave the Veloster a stiffer body and a new rear suspension this year, which has improved the car’s handling. It now feels better planted on the road, and eager to tackle twists and turns. However, its firm suspension also means a rather firm and busy ride. Yet, Veloster buyers are likely to accept this tradeoff, and the suspension does, in fact, take the edge off heavy-duty bumps.
Hyundai offers the Veloster in five levels of trim, 2.0, 2.0 Premium, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo and Turbo Ultimate. The 2.0 and the 2.0 Premium come with the non-turbo engine. The other models as their names imply, are turbocharged. All Velosters come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, forward collision warning and intervention and lane keep assist, which is rare for cars in this class. Furthermore, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard on most models.
Bargain hunters should like the 2.0 model with a price tag of just $19,385. However, if you want features, like an eight-speaker sound system and heated seats, the price jumps up to $23,685 for the 2.0 Premium. Enthusiasts will, no doubt, gravitate to the Turbo R-Spec, which comes with the turbo engine, a six-speed manual gearbox and a sport shifter for only $150 more. Turbo and Turbo Ultimate buyers, get more luxury and safety features, like a sunroof, smart cruise control and navigation, but will pay up to $27,535.