Hidden Door and Fluidic Lines
For one thing, it’s got three doors, which strangely, isn’t strange at all. The driver’s side of the car has a large door but on the passenger’s side there are two, which makes sense since that’s where passengers normally get out-on the curb. And that third door is actually hidden. Hyundai integrated the handle into the window.
Since it’s being targeted mainly to people without children-younger drivers and empty nesters-Hyundai made it look super sporty. The first shipment delivered to the United States in September docked in Portland so Pacific Northwesterners were the first to see it on the street. Carlist got to drive it there and we saw first-hand how the public is receiving Hyundai’s latest addition to its lineup-with snapshots and approving walk-arounds.
“Is this new?” and “That’s a great-looking car,” were a couple things we heard from passersby who stopped to chat with us about the new Veloster.
Hyundai says the Veloster’s design was inspired from a high-performance sport bike. Indeed, aggressive is an adjective one might use to describe the car’s appearance. It has wraparound headlights with LED accents, fluidic lines and muscular wheel arches. The Veloster comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels and offers two types of 18-inch wheels with painted inserts.
High Tech Telematics
What’s also likely to entice younger buyers is the Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system. Its list of features is exhaustive. While we won’t list them all here, the Veloster can do things like let you text message people using your voice.
To set it up, you go to BlueLink.com and input all your friends’ phone numbers which then get synced to the car. And unlike other voice-to-text systems available, Blue Link lets you text any message you want, not just a set of predetermined messages. However, the system does not perform text-to-voice like Ford’s SYNC which reads text messages to a driver.
At BlueLink.com you can also set up Geo-fencing and speed alerts, which is great for parents of teenagers. For example, as a parent you can tell the system to alert you if the car travels outside a 15-mile radius or exceeds 70 mph.
It also has Gracenote with voice recognition which lets drivers identify music, select albums and artists and even purchase songs, all while keeping their eyes on the road.
And like other Hyundai vehicles outfitted with Blue Link, it’s got turn-by-turn Navigation, voice search for points of interest, daily route guidance, traffic and gas price information, restaurant ratings and weather.
The Veloster also is one of the first cars on the road with Pandora internet radio available on its seven-inch touchscreen display. You can even “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” songs using the touchscreen.
Driving the Veloster
We drove the six-speed manual and the six-speed automatic dual clutch versions of the Veloster in Portland. With 138 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque coming from the 1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder, the Veloster has merely average acceleration that doesn’t quite fit its sporty appearance. However, the transmission was excellent in both versions.
The manual has a light clutch that makes shifting gears much easier than many of the sticks we’ve driven. Even driving up and parking on a very steep hill gave us no problems whatsoever.
As for the automatic, Hyundai’s first EcoShift dual-clutch transmission feels quite different from a standard transmission. The typical back and forth feeling you normally get when a vehicle engages and disengages gears is noticeably absent.
“You get no interruption in torque transfer when it shifts,” said Michael O’Brien, vice president of corporate and product planning, who also explained that the Veloster’s dual clutch doesn’t include the hydraulics normally found in other clutches. Not only do those hydraulics add weight, “They also take away horsepower because it takes a constant amount of horsepower to drive that hydraulic pump…Ours is a dry clutch design, and the differences are substantial,” he says.
“Think of a soda straw with a pencil slid in the middle. One clutch is attached to the soda straw, the other clutch is attached to the pencil inside of the soda straw. The one clutch applies to gears 1, 3 and 5 and the other clutch on the other shaft applies to gears 2, 4 and 6. So when I select first gear, second gear is usually preselected. When I shift, all I’m doing is releasing the clutch on one shaft and applying it on the other shaft,” O’Brien says.
As for cabin noise, “extremely loud” is how one stretch of road outside of Portland sounded inside the Veloster. When the surface changed, however, the noise from the tires fell away.
MPG and Pricing
But considering the ongoing state of the economy and unrelentingly high gas prices, the fuel economy of this car is worth mentioning. Hyundai, without a doubt, consistently nails fuel economy. Catch the car maker’s commercials on TV and 40 mpg will undoubtedly come through. The Veloster is no exception. The manual gets an estimated 28mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The automatic dual clutch transmission is at 29/38.
As for price, the Veloster starts at $17,300 for the six-speed manual and $18,550 for the six-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission.