Hyundai Veloster First Impressions

Watch out automotive world, Hyundai has changed the compact market with a brand new vehicle. Fresh off the heels of their recent Accent redesign and the Genesis sedan refresh Hyundai will be releasing their all new car, 3-door Veloster FWD coupe, later this year as a 2012 model. It’s a fresh concept that will appeal to a wide range of ages and lifestyles. The hip young generation will find the styling sporty, attractive and appealing and the older generations will find the utility and eco-friendly specs of a high MPG car appealing. Even fully loaded the Veloster will still be in the price range of just about anyone.

When you first view the Veloster from the driver’s side it gives you the familiar 2-door coupe look. Many people will compare this vehicle to the Scion tC or Mini Cooper or perhaps even the Honda CR-Z, but the Veloster has a feature that these other coupes do not: a third door on the passenger side. The three doors give you the versatility of a 4-door hatch. There is no need to open the front door to gain access to the third door so passengers in the rear have autonomy on entering and exiting the vehicle. What’s also nice about the passenger side doors is that it still flows very nicely with the coupe design. Even though you know that there is a third door present, it is not readily noticeable, even the door handle is somewhat hidden. In fact, onlookers that I asked were surprised that the Veloster had two doors on the passenger side. The additional door flows well and it stylistically contributes to the sporty “fun” nature of the vehicle.

The interior follows suit with Hyundai’s other recent vehicles with solid controls with an upscale feel that is usually found on higher priced cars. However, there are some distinct styling features that were borrowed from, not another car, but motorcycles throughout the car. Bold angular lines and grab handles in the doors and center console help add to the “racer” fun atmosphere of the car. Speaking of atmosphere, upgraded models with the Style Package come with a very nice panoramic sunroof with one touch operations for both opening and closing and the entire car has plenty of windows. It gives the Veloster a very roomy and airy feeling with great visibility.

Standard in all Veloster models is an LG Touchscreen for radio controls and navigation (Tech Package required), Bluetooth and iPod connectivity as well as the option to control your Pandora music app on your iPhone. I love Pandora and it works perfectly in the Veloster. A very nice touch is that Tech Package equipped models also include a rear view camera and parking sensors and proximity key entry with push start. Weren’t these options strictly for high end luxury cars at one time? Not anymore. To top it off Hyundai will also be offering new Veloster owners the option of subscribing to their Blue Link service. First featured in the Hyundai Sonata, Blue Link provides a host of features such as tracking the maintenance of your vehicle to providing alerts to emergency workers in case of an accident.

Hyundai is also doing something that no other car manufacturer has done and that is to provide a direct injection engine in a compact vehicle that is included in its standard edition. What you get is a 1.6L engine that is capable of 138 HP and achieving 40 MPG on the highway (manual version) while running on regular unleaded gas. Out the door you get a super fuel efficient engine that gives you great fuel mileage, it’s what many manufacturers charge you extra for. The manual 6-speed I would have to say is one of Hyundai’s best it has produced for their compact cars. The manual has good clutch engagement and has a solid feel working through the gears. It is, again, features that are typically found in a higher priced vehicle. You also have the option of a new 6-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) with just a small penalty in highway mileage (~2 MPG). I highly recommend it as it lets you get that sporty feel of a manual but in that stop and go traffic it acts like a normal automatic. Plus, who doesn’t love paddle shifters? Both transmissions give a good compromise between fuel mpg, drivability yet still give you that “FUN” factor. Now don’t get me wrong, this car won’t win many drag races but it will still put a smile on your face in the twisties. My co-pilot for the weekend will attest that you might even scream a few times if properly pushed to the limits while doing some canyon carving. If that still isn’t enough motivation to buy one, just wait a little longer. We have gotten indications that a turbo variant is on its way. Horsepower estimates are anyone’s guess but we’re betting on around 180-185 HP. The Veloster is just a great fun small car to drive that provides big practicality (How practical? Watch this VIDEO of a fellow journalist fit inside the trunk.)

So is the Hyundai Veloster a car for you? Well if you like a car that is practical, sporty and fun to drive, has great looks plus comes loaded with uncompromising features for a low price, then yes, this car very well may be for you.

The Hyundai Veloster, with a starting price of $17,300, is not only a great value but in my opinion one of the most unique non hybrid/electric cars of 2012!

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