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We Drive The 2012 Hyundai Veloster

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (2 Reviews)

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We Drive The 2012 Hyundai Veloster

2012 Hyundai Veloster. Image courtesy of Hyundai.

Hyundai

What Is A Veloster?

Hyundai felt that it needed a replacement for its deceased front-wheel-drive Tiburon sports coupe, since the Genesis Coupe is rear-wheel drive and aimed at stealing sales from traditional pony cars like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, while the subcompact Accent and compact Elantra attract buyers with a practical mindset. The Veloster, on the other hand, is meant to appeal to younger buyers who want a serving of sport with a side of practicality, or perhaps the other way around.

What this means for Hyundai dealers--and stores representing competing brands--is that the Veloster could possibly draw a younger crowd into showrooms. Then again, other vehicles with quirky, youthful appeal have often drawn empty-nesters. And with a 40-mpg promise and three doors, instead of four or two, the Veloster just might draw green types with a flair for the different.

Veloster Basics

The Veloster is offered with only one engine--a 138-horsepower/123 lb-ft 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injection four-cylinder, and that powerplant mates to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. As noted above, the Veloster offers three doors, with the third door being on the passenger side, and a hatchback cargo door.

Standard features include an anti-skid system, traction control, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, air conditioning, 17-inch wheels, tilt/telescope steering wheel, Bluetooth, an auxiliary input, and an USB port. A Style Package adds 18-inch wheels, fog lamps, and a panoramic sunroof, among other features, and a a Tech Package adds keyless entry and starting, a navigation system with a rearview camera, a 115-volt outlet, automatic headlights, backup warning sensors, and 18-inch wheels with painted inserts.

Pricing runs as follows: $17,300 for the base model with the manual transmission, $19,300 for the Style Package with the manual transmission, $21,300 for the Tech Package with manual transmission, $18,550 for a base Veloster with the automatic transmission, $20,550 for the Style Package with the automatic, and $22,550 for the Tech Package with the automatic. The destination fee is $760 across the board.

Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg city/40 mpg highway/32 mpg combined in the manual car, with the numbers checking in at 29/38/32 for the automatic.

Drive Impressions

All of our time was spent in Veloster's with the manual transmission, and we found it to be peppy enough for around time driving in the lower gears, but fifth and sixth are fairly useless for anything other than highway cruising. Uphill jaunts and hard acceleration challenged the Veloster a bit, we think it could use a pinch more power, and we suspect given the car's sporty intent, that a more-powerful engine will someday be available. With Veloster, the trick is to keep the engine in the middle of the rev range. Still, there's more pep than Accent, and the clutch and shifter work nicely in concert with the driver. The clutch offers progressive takeup and the shifter's throws are nicely spaced, not too long or too short.

Steering feel has been a bugaboo in some Hyundai models--like the Sonata--but in the Veloster it's appropriately weighted with a sporty feel. It can be a tad light at times, but generally its useful in keeping the car pointed where you want it. Body roll is a bit present but not too bad, and understeer does creep in when the Veloster is pushed.

The ride is on the stiff side without punishing. Plenty of tire noise seeps in at highway speeds, but engine noise is muted in the lower RPM range.

The cabin is a pleasant place to do business with stylish switchgear, there's more than enough storage space, leg and headroom are plentiful upfront (rear-seat legroom isn't bad for taller persons, but headroom is tight), and there's a surprising amount of cargo space in the hatch.

Blue Link And Final Thoughts

Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system offers a lot of interesting tech features, such as location sharing, voice text-messaging, a vehicle-systems monitor, stolen vehicle recovery, roadside assistance, and geo-fencing system that alerts owners that the car has been driven outside of a pre-determined area.

What this means for dealers is that tech-savvy customers might be drawn to the Veloster, and it's certainly a selling point that Hyundai will use to lure customers into showrooms.

Overall, the Veloster is a unique sporty coupe that offers a bit of fun-to-drive factor, some pretty useful utility, and some very interesting tech features. That means that the Veloster is going to appeal to a unique crowd, and Hyundai dealers should market it as such. The Veloster isn't just a front-drive sporty coupe replacing the Tiburon. No, it's a sport coupe with quirks, meant to appeal to a different sort of customers. Dealers would be wise to keep that in mind.

As is common in the automotive industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services and travel for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.
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