2012 Hyundai Veloster review

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is Hyundai’s most exciting car to land on our shores. The looks and the price has everyone scrabbling to put their names down for one, but is it really worth the $23,990 Hyundai is asking for?

2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER – PROS AND CONS

PROS:

  • Hot hatch looks
  • Loaded with standard equipment
  • Comfortable and airy interior
  • Slick six-speed dual-clutch transmission
  • High quality entertainment system
  • Innovative rear passenger entry and exit

CONS:

  • Interior trim quality and choice questionable
  • Heavy, uncommunicative power steering
  • Not enough power (Turbo version – approx. 150kW – coming in third quarter of this year)

2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER – OVERVIEW

Since its unveiling at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, the Hyundai Veloster has been highly anticipated by everyday motorists and enthusiasts. The extrovert-style hot hatch/smart coupe (coined by Hyundai) was a visual blow to the sternum when it landed on our shores. It’s got a presence on the road that can only be matched by a sports car while being as docile as an everyday hatchback and nearly just as practical.

2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER – ACCOMMODATION AND EQUIPMENT

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster comes lavishly equipped with tons of gadgets. For starters, the seven-inch LCD touch-screen multimedia system nestled in the centre console plays everything you can imagine; from CDs, iPods, streaming Bluetooth songs and can even play Divx movies. It also functions as your Bluetooth handsfree kit, and when you select reverse, it displays the rear-view camera with parking assist tools to help you.

The marvellous multimedia system is connected to a premium set of speakers, with four speakers, two tweeters, and a sub-woofer, all driven by an external amplifier. We played around with the sound settings and in Concert mode the music really comes alive. For a car aimed at the fashionable youngsters, the Veloster is off to a great start on the inside.

The centre console itself is futuristically styled, with climate controls well placed around the rotary knob. We liked the vertical air vents too; it’s uncommon enough to be classy. Turn the key, and your eyes are drawn to the instrument binnacle. The lights don’t suddenly flicker on, oh no, the Veloster is an extrovert and puts on a show.

The cluster powers up gently, with the backlighting achieving full brightness a couple of seconds after turning on the car. The twin binnacles jutting out are obviously motorcycle inspired. What aren’t so good are the materials used inside. Someone must have taken a vote at the company and used the top thirty choices.

The top of the dash is a different material to the one used on the door, and we can’t forgive the inside door handles at all. It seems to be made from some chintzy chromed plastic and it looks and feels terrible, but all that disappears when the night falls and you can’t differentiate between the mismatched textiles. The cabin glows with Hyundai’s baby blue backlighting, and it looks fantastic. The darkness covers the questionable materials and then it’s just you and that beautiful blue dash.

The leatherette and cloth seats are supportive, and it’s easy to find a great position as the driver’s seat adjusts for height and lumbar support. The steering wheel can also be adjusted for height and reach; impressive for a budget hatchback. Of course, the biggest question is, does the passenger side third door actually do anything? We are happy to report that yes, getting in and out is so much better than a normal coupe or a two-door hatchback.

We managed to fit four adult men in the car without many complaints. The swooping roofline does cut into rear headroom so much that the top of your head is actually right below the sloping rear windscreen. The rear passengers had to adopt a knees apart splayed out posture for maximum comfort, but otherwise they were pretty happy with the rear seats. The driver’s seat can also be pulled back for an emergency exit if needed, but with the rear door and seats so handy, no one is going to fight for shotgun.

Lift up that sexy tailgate and you’ll find a cargo area that will rival small sedans. At 440 litres with the option to fold down the rear seats, you’ve got some serious storage space. A hatchback means it will accommodate taller loads than a sedan too. It’s starting to look mighty appealing next to your usual Corolla hatchbacks isn’t it?

2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER – DESIGN AND SAFETY

There are words, and then there are epiphanies to describe what the Veloster looks like. The front end is ruggedly handsome, with clefts and dimples in all the right places. The scoops on the bonnet convey the right amount of aggression. The swooping roofline, the blackened A and B pillars, and that subtle Hofmeister kink in the rear windows makes the three quarter view absolutely knee trembling. Hunching over its big 18-inch rims, it looks ready to speed off into the distance.

There are exquisite details too, like the rear lights that have individual LED strands, and the daytime running lights that give the front headlights a menacing touch. This is a seriously good looking car, an automotive Brad Pitt. The Veloster wouldn’t look out of place in a line-up of exotic supercars.

Keeping passengers safe, the Veloster comes with front, side and curtain airbags, as well as a whole host of electronic safety programs like electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, and anti-lock brakes. To quell any untoward wheelspin, the Vehicle Stability Management works with the Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control System.

The Veloster also comes with Hyundai’s Active Locking Operation (HALO), which automatically locks doors when going above a certain speed, and unlocks automatically when you’ve stopped and pull open the handle. It’s very handy. Along with its stiff body and side intrusion beams in all its doors, the Veloster has scored 35.47 points out of 37 from ANCAP, capturing the coveted five star rating.

2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER – ON THE ROAD

The new Veloster features Hyundai’s latest powerplant, the all-aluminium, double overhead camshaft 1.6-litre Gasoline Direct injection (GDi) engine. It features variable valve timing and pumps out 103kW and 166Nm. Paired with Hyundai’s own in-house developed six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The ratios are very short and the DCT swaps cogs depending on how hard you are going.

The engine is peppy and takes full advantage of the short ratio gears. It will hang on to gears longer if you slot the gear lever into S, where throttle sensitivity is also increased. However, we found that the DCT tends to shift up near the redline, cutting out any fun if you wish to keep the engine in the power band while cornering. This brings us neatly to the handling.

The Hyundai Veloster has had its suspension specifically tuned for Australian roads, and we can feel it riding superbly composed over the pitted roads of Sydney. The four square stance isn’t just for show; there is very little body roll when throwing the Veloster into tight corners. The rear end tends to get unsettled easily over undulating surfaces though, and there is some tyre roar from the large wheels.

One thing we don’t like is the steering feel. It seems too heavy and devoid of feel despite being electrically powered. Every time the wheel is turned (with more effort than expected), you can sense some sort of disconnect between the steering and front wheels.

That said, if you drive the Veloster sensibly, it works well as a daily driver. The GDi engine sips fuel thanks to its direct injection technology and feels refined. We managed to get close to the official urban mileage figures of 8.4-litre per 100km by using the cruise control every chance we had. The DCT can sometimes get confused on light constant throttle on uphill roads; otherwise it has very little faults.

2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER – VERDICT

This is a ground-breaking car for Hyundai. The Veloster is very well priced at $23,999, it looks like a proper hot hatch, and it comes loaded with kit. There is no doubt that it’s winning over Australians at the moment, as Hyundai have told us that it’s pretty much sold out everywhere.

We can forgive the questionable plastics, the odd DCT confusion, and the heavy, numb steering, especially when it looks so sensational. We really like the sunflower yellow on our test car; we reckon it’s identical to Lamborghini’s own shade of yellow.

The rear passenger door isn’t some gimmick either, it’s genuinely useable and makes the Veloster a car you can live with every day. The only downside is that all your friends and family will want a ride in the car, and it can only sit four.

The looks and stares you get when driving about will make you feel special though, so we think there is just no excuse for anyone to buy any other daily driver in this price range.

2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER – THE COMPETITORS

CITROEN DS3 DStyle – 1.6-litre naturally aspirated inline four cylinder, 88kW/160Nm – 1075kg – $26,990
The style king of hatchbacks before the Veloster was launched, the DS3 is available in two trims; the entry DStyle and the turbo DSport. Both only available in two-door guise.

HONDA CR-Z –1.5-litre naturally aspirated inline four cylinder with Honda IMA hybrid electric, 91kW/167Nm - 1190kg (CVT) – $34,990
The CRZ is unbelievably fun to drive, but as a practical everyday car it’s not as good as the Veloster.

FORD FIESTA Zetec – 1.6 -litre naturally aspirated inline four cylinder, 88kW/151Nm - 1099kg – $20,990
Sharp Euro styling, great handling dynamics, long list of kit and genuine everyday useability makes it a real contender against the Veloster

2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER – SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL
2012 Hyundai Veloster

ENGINE
1.6-litre petrol four-cylinder with GDI direct injection

ENGINE SIZE / COMPRESSION RATIO
1591 /11.0:1

BORE X STROKE (mm)
77mm X 85.4mm

POWER
104kW@6500rpm, 174Nm@4300rpm

POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO
11.82 : 1 (kg:kW)

KERB WEIGHT
1215kg

HEIGHT / WIDTH / LENGTH
1399mm / 1790mm / 4220mm

DRIVETRAIN
Six-speed dual-clutch transmission with Hill-start Assist Control

BRAKES
F: Ventilated discs
R: Solid discs

WHEELS / TYRES
F and R: 18-inch alloy, 215/40 R18

FUEL TANK CAPACITY
50 litres

FUEL TYPE
91 RON

FUEL CONSUMPTION
Tested average: 8.9L/100km (mostly urban)
Official average: 6.4L/100km

PERFORMANCE
0-100km/h: Not tested

PRICED FROM
$23,990, $25,990 (DCT auto)

WARRANTY
Five-year/Unlimited kilometre

Jerry Yam

Jerry Yam is a contributing writer and road test journalist at PerformanceDrive. He is not only a genuine motoring enthusiast, he's also a keen driver and enjoys the modified car scene. His stories have appeared in titles such as Hot4's and Street Commodores magazines.

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