2012 Hyundai Veloster effectively bridges the gap between baby boomers and toddlers
by Dan Buxbaum
Most weekday afternoons, my commute takes me from the office straight to day care to pick up my 21-month-old Son. After blowing kisses to a screaming mob of his groupies, the little guy typically pulls me outside, at lightning speed, anxious to see which media vehicle will be chauffeuring him back to our house. After I point out where the vehicle is parked, he delightedly proclaims, “New car! New car!” Except that, when he saw Hyundai’s 2012 Veloster, (I didn’t even have to point), he donned an ear-to-ear grin, and shouted, “Whoa, cool, wow, car!”
My sentiments exactly.
By way of their “24/7, version 2.0” product initiative (seven new models in 24 months), we found Hyundai to have built a car that is so good, I almost considered trading in my nine-month old, family-friendly SUV for one.
The exterior’s “fluidic-sculpture” design was, in a word, stunning. Bulbous headlamps with LED markers led the way up the front façade to a muscularly-styled hood, graced with a set of almost-believable faux air scoops.
Adding to the design, our Veloster was equipped with the optional “Style” package (18” two-tone wheels, panoramic glass roof, fog lamps, upgraded trim and audio). As equipped, the upper portions of the car contained so much glass, that we found most of our staff beginning to develop an irrational fear of hail storms.
Also worth noting, the glass roof severely compromised front seat head room, lowering the number to 37.2”, versus 39”, had it been equipped with the standard, fixed metal roof.
To us, the most striking visual element, however, was the full-size third passenger door, located on the passenger rear side of the vehicle. We found the concept to have worked effectively, garnering confused looks and ill-timed expletives from curious bystanders, as well as passengers desiring rear seat ingress and egress via the opposite side.
Inside of the Veloster’s cabin, the fluid-sculpture design theme continued, with elements designed to mimic a sport bike, or “crotch rocket,” to the younger crowd.
According to Hyundai, the tall, steeply-raked windshield is meant to evoke styling cues reminiscent of a motorcycle helmet visor, while the center stack and audio/HVAC controls emulate a sport bike’s fuel tank. The air vents are said to be inspired by motorcycle tailpipes, and the floor console mirrors a bike’s seat. We found it all to integrate nicely, and yes, their crotch rocket-design comparisons were spot-on.
What you wouldn’t have found in a sport bike were the myriad of features that were included in our test car’s $2,000 “Tech” package (Satellite radio, backup camera with parking sensors, navigation system). The best feature, it was universally deemed, was 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 our Veloster was Hyundai’s 1.6-L “Gamma” four-cylinder, direct-fuel-injected engine. This was the same all-aluminum mill found in the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio, and produced an identical 138 HP and 123 lb-ft of torque.
Mated with our test car’s standard six-speed manual transmission, the Gamma felt quick and lively, with great mid-range power and a glorious pull at high revs. During our week of driving, the car averaged over 34.5 MPG; truly respectable, considering our lead-footed driving style.
For those desiring automatic gear changes, Hyundai offers an automated, six-speed, dual-clutch transmission (DCT) as a $1,250 option.
The Veloster’s taut ride and handling characteristics were provided 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,” according to Hyundai, integrates a 23 mm stabilizer bar to allow bracing of the arms for greater stiffness and to further control body roll.
The overall setup performed exceptionally well, working in perfect harmony with the electrically-assisted steering, and provided high levels of chassis responsiveness and feedback.
As-tested, our fully-loaded Veloster had 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).
We opined that, having developed a clearly-established rapport across multiple generations, the Hyundai Veloster was a vehicle sure to stand the test of time. 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 us up; we can’t wait.