The 2019 Hyundai Veloster is intentionally different, consciously quirky and designed to stand out from the crowd. Veloster enters its second generation as a 2019 model. Hyundai calls it a "Reverse Halo" vehicle.
Hyundai has a very flexible "mix-and-match" set of platforms that underlie their subcompact and compact vehicles, so Veloster rides on a unique chassis/suspension/powertrain combination. It’s a unibody (frameless) front-wheel drive setup that results in a new model that rides on the same wheelbase (104.3 inches) and is the same height (55.1 inches) as the outgoing model (104.3 inches), but is slightly wider at 70.9 inches and longer at 166.9 inches. Manufacturers always boast about improved rigidity, and Veloster is no different.
Exterior Design and Asymmetry
Unique among current sport compacts, Veloster has three passenger doors: One on the driver’s side, and two on the passenger’s side. The rear door handle is inset near the C-pillar, while the front door retains a conventional door handle. The body sides are sculpted with sharp character lines that convey athleticism and speed, and the roofline is scarab-like, rounding down toward the rear bumper, pausing only for a slight integrated spoiler. The tailgate houses a short rear window and squinty taillights (LED available). Centered twin tailpipes peek out beneath the rear bumper — a nice, sporty touch. The front of the Veloster is assertive-looking, with a wide, low aspect and expressive headlights (LED available) underlined by standard LED daytime running lights.
Interior Design and More Asymmetry
Taking their cue from the vehicle’s exterior, Veloster’s designers made a clear division between the driver’s and passenger’s sides of the front cabin. The second row is a tight fit for adults, and would be a chore for swapping in and out of car seats — but that’s standard for the class. Cargo space is superior at 19.9 cu ft., competitive with many compact crossovers and bigger that most full-size sedans — and the 60/40-split rear seat folds down to open up even more.
Two engines are available for the front-wheel drive Veloster: A 2.0-liter naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 2.0-liter 4-cylinder (147 hp/132 lb-ft of torque) and a 1.6-liter turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder (201 hp/195 lb-ft of torque). The 2.0-liter comes with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, while the turbo comes with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (DCT). Fuel economy estimates range from 25 miles per gallon city/33 mpg highway/28 mpg combined to 28 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined, depending on configuration.
Suspension, Steering and Braking
Hyundai used that "mix-and-match" platform capability to upgrade Veloster’s rear suspension to an independent multi-link setup, replacing the outgoing torsion beam unit. The front gets a lighter, stiffer independent suspension that uses MacPherson struts. Column-mounted electric rack-and-pinion power steering is dialed in well to deliver decent feel and weight. Disc brakes are standard front and rear, equipped with ABS.
A 7-inch touchscreen display is standard (8-in optional) for the infotainment and available navigation system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free and streaming audio are standard, and Infinity premium audio is available. Turbo models come with a nifty engine sound enhancement feature that allows you to experience the audible thrills of your Veloster through the sound system. An 8-in head-up display (HUD) is also available on Turbo models. Lane-keeping assist and forward-collision-avoidance assist are standard (class firsts), along with a long list of active and passive safety features.
We drove both the 2.0-liter and Turbo models of Veloster during Hyundai’s launch event. Unfortunately, only automatic transmission vehicles were available during the event. But the Veloster still delivered on its fun-to-drive promise, especially in Turbo trim. With three drive modes (Normal/Sport/Smart), the Turbo feels sporty and quick. The suspension is just stiff enough to give you some confidence, and Veloster can hug the curves just fine. Torque steer makes an occasional appearance, but is easily managed. Veloster’s limits are not the highest, but it delivers some good fun within them.
Trim Levels and Prices
2019 Veloster will be available in five trim levels: 2.0, starting at $18,500 (MT)/$19,500 (AT); 2.0 Premium, starting at $22,750 (AT only); Turbo R-Spec, starting at $22,750 (MT only); Turbo, staring at $25,400 (DCT only); and Turbo Ultimate, starting at $26,650 (MT)/$28,150 (DCT).
The Bottom Line
In some ways, as a three-door coupe/sedan/hatchback, Veloster is in a class by itself. In the sport compact class, it competes with the Mini Cooper, Civic Coupe, Fiat 500, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Fiesta. Add the Mazda3 and even Kia Soul. Selecting among these vehicles will be an emotional decision, not a battle of spec sheets. The 2019 Hyundai Veloster will appeal to some quirky, enthusiastic drivers, and they’ll be very happy with their choice.
To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.