New Car Review
2017 Hyundai Veloster: New Car Review
In the 2017 Hyundai Veloster, you get a sporty coupe, a versatile hatchback and an affordable economy car all rolled into one. With a wide range of models, the Veloster can be a frugal economy coupe or, thanks to its two turbocharged models, a speed demon with a taste for the curves. The Veloster is also endowed with a truly unique design that incorporates a small passenger-side rear door allowing for easy entry and exit of passengers and pets.
Of all the possible trims, the Veloster Turbo is a big deal because it's both fun to drive and remarkably affordable. It undercuts the price of comparably equipped rivals such as the MINI Cooper S and the Volkswagen GTI by thousands. And like every Hyundai, it's backed by a stout 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, so if you're skeptical about turbo reliability, Hyundai has your back.
Don't sleep on the even more affordable base Veloster, though. It's fundamentally the same car minus the turbocharger, so you get the same sporty handling and surprisingly refined high-speed demeanor, plus extra fuel economy. Either way, it's hard to nitpick with this happy-go-lucky Hyundai.
What's New for 2017?
The Veloster adds a new Value Edition trim that includes 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a proximity key with push-button start, a 7-in navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 8-speaker Dimensions audio, automatic climate control and Blue Link with remote start.
What We Like
Energetic optional turbocharged motor; solid fuel economy; fun to drive; lots of technology; innovative rear door; great warranty
What We Don't
Base engine lacks punch; dual-clutch transmission could use refinement; firm ride
The base Veloster is powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque with the 6-speed manual transmission. If you specify the optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, output drops to 132 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is pretty good, checking in at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the stick shift and 28 mpg city/35 mpg hwy with the automated manual.
Opt for the Turbo or the R-Spec, and you'll get a spunky 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual is standard, and a new 6-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional. The manual returns 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy, while the automatic gets 26 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Hyundai Veloster is offered in base, Value Edition, Turbo and R-Spec trims.
The base Veloster ($18,935) comes with a robust roster of standard perks, including 17-in alloy wheels, LED exterior accent lights, a center-mounted trapezoidal exhaust outlet, air conditioning, cruise control, fog lights, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a trip computer, a height-adjustable driver's seat and a 6-speaker audio system with a 7-in touchscreen (including a rearview camera), Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Pandora radio capability and iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Adding the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission brings the Active ECO system and hill-start assist.
The Veloster Value Edition ($22,185) adds the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, 18-in wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a proximity key with push-button start, a 7-in navigation system with SiriusXM Travel Link, 8-speaker Dimensions audio, automatic climate control and Blue Link with remote start.
The Turbo ($23,435) steps up to the plate with a turbocharged engine, an electronic limited-slip differential, unique 18-in alloys, exclusive exterior styling elements, twin center-mounted circular exhaust outlets, heated leather sport seats with Turbo embroidery, a quicker steering ratio and two thin-film-transistor (TFT) driver information screens.
A Tech package for the Turbo brings rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof and a navigation system. It also throws in automatic climate control, a 115-volt outlet and auto headlights. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional.
The R-Spec ($22,435) is an edgier, slightly less luxurious Veloster Turbo with some aggressive touches, including exclusive design cues, a sport-tuned suspension, red-trimmed leatherette upholstery and a sport shifter.
The 2017 Veloster comes standard with a backup camera, stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Parking sensors are optional.
In government crash-testing, the Veloster received the top 5-star rating overall, including four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Veloster its top rating of Good in three of the five tested categories, downgrading it to Acceptable (second-best out of four ratings) for side impacts and Marginal (second-worst) in the challenging small-overlap front crash test.
Behind the Wheel
Our interior evaluation of the Veloster left us impressed with the base model's front seats, as they feature more lateral support than we're used to feeling at this price. The turbocharged model's sport front seats are even grippier. Common to all trims is the spaceshiplike dashboard, which looks so cool that we're inclined to forgive the mediocre materials that were employed. The tilt-telescopic steering wheel offers ample adjustability, while the clean, crisp gauges are complemented in the Turbo by a pair of graphically dazzling TFT information screens. Ergonomics are surprisingly good for such an adventurous design, particularly the foolproof climate controls.
Access to the Veloster's back seat is via a conventional forward-hinged third door on the passenger side. It's like a 4-door hatchback without the driver-side rear door. This means that the rear door opens independently, unlike the so-called suicide door that some other 3-door cars have utilized, so rear passengers are free to enter and exit as they wish. Passenger space in back is mostly fine, but taller riders won't have enough headroom.
The Veloster's standard 7-in touchscreen really sets it apart when compared to other affordable hatchbacks. Hyundai knows its target buyers want to be on the grid at all times, so virtually every imaginable connectivity feature comes standard, including Apple's Siri Eyes Free and CarPlay as well as Android Auto.
Under the hood, the Veloster's base engine needs all the horses it can get, so our preference is for the satisfying stick shift with its added output. Also, the automated gearbox could use some more development to sharpen its sometimes clumsy shifts. If cost is no object, the pick of this litter is undoubtedly the turbo, which provides most of its ample torque under 2,000 revolutions per minute thanks to twin-scroll technology. The enhanced engine pulls like a train on the highway, even in sixth gear -- it can motor.
On the road, the Veloster's steering feels a bit artificial, even in quicker-ratio Turbo form, but it's responsive enough to be entertaining. The Veloster's wide front track is palpable, keeping the car mostly planted to its handling limits. Meanwhile, on the highway, the Veloster is unexpectedly an absolute champ, tracking straight and true at speeds we're not allowed to mention. It's downright Germanic, really. We're less enamored by the way the chassis flexes over rough pavement, but hey, let's be honest: Hyundai did a darn good job tuning the Veloster's ride and handling.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 FIAT 500 -- The 500 has a power shortage of its own, unless you pony up for the turbocharged Abarth. Nonetheless, it has plenty of Italian style if you're looking for a little more sophistication.
2017 Chevrolet Sonic -- There are no motivation issues here, as the turbocharged Sonic Premier has plenty of zest for squeezing through traffic. It's a surprisingly comfortable car on the highway, too.
2017 MINI Cooper -- Also offered in basic or hot variants, the MINI is pricier than the Veloster, but it's nicer on the inside, and it offers a smoother automatic transmission.
Used Volkswagen GTI -- Volkswagen has a thriving certified pre-owned program with an attractive factory warranty, and the more luxurious and capable GTI can definitely be found in lightly used condition for Veloster money.
The Veloster Turbo is our kind of car: quick, stylish and packed with value. The R-Spec's styling is a bit of an acquired taste, but give us a bone-stock Turbo, and we'd be laughing all the way to the bank.