All-new Veloster coupe gives Hyundai a boost
By AL VINIKOUR For Sun-Times Media May 24, 2012 3:23PM
2012 HYUNDAI VELOSTER
ENGINE: 138-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: six-speed manual
DRIVETRAIN: front-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 28 city/40 highway
BASE PRICE: $17,300
AS TESTED: not available
It used to be asked about a certain Japanese car company if it ever could do anything wrong. I’m here to tell you there’s a new sheriff in town, and his Korean name is Hyundai.
Furthermore, there’s a new Hyundai in town, and its name is Veloster.
First of all, Veloster as a word means absolutely nothing; think of it as a vehicular “Seinfeld” show. But get behind the wheel and you will ask yourself, “Is there anything these Koreans can’t do?”
A recent get-together with Hyundai’s all-new 2012 Veloster three-door coupe shed more light on this question and the answer is a qualified “No.”
Hyundai has been missing an everyman coupe for a long time. It’s had success with the Tiburon and Genesis coupes but was lacking an across-the-board model. It’s now here in Veloster, a three-door coupe. Unlike previous three-door offerings from other car companies, Hyundai has done that third door right.
Instead of a third door opening from the front in what’s commonly referred to as “suicide doors,” it opens conventionally. However, only the right-side door (the curb side for those of you who grew up with me in Indiana) opens. (Hint: There is no driver’s side rear door.) There’s no need for the driver’s door to be opened first nor has a safety hazard been created by rear-hinging. Also, the door handle is creatively hidden so the vehicle retains its coupe design.
Veloster has a sweeping design that loudly proclaims how gleefully it likes to cut through wind resistance. Hyundai claims Veloster’s unique design was inspired from a high-performance sport bike. It has distinctive black A-pillars and an aggressive form of Hyundai’s signature hexagonal front grille, hood scoop detailing and unique Hyundai signature LED position lights. There are optional packages that let you design a different appearance, like a chrome grille surround, piano black highlights, fog lights and a massive panoramic sunroof.
Driving Veloster is a hoot. It boldly takes curves with no discernible head toss, and the front seating is extremely comfortable. Visibility is excellent and it provides a great ride courtesy of its McPherson strut front suspension, coil springs, gas shock absorbers, 24 mm diameter front stabilizer, monotube shock absorbers in the rear and sport-tuned electric power steering that adjusts instantly to changing driving conditions.
I particularly liked the instrument gauge cluster. It’s stylized and legible. The center stack is a credit to the external styling of the vehicle. I was instantly attracted to Veloster’s navigation system, which projects through a 7-inch high-resolution touch screen. They may be out there, but I can’t recall ever seeing a map display that shows overhead interstate/major highway signs as crisply depicted as the actual signs on the roads. And when Hyundai says “turn-by-turn navigation” it’s not just whistling Dixie. The instructions give plenty of warning, which many navigation systems do not.
Like most macho guys, I would have liked to have had more horsepower to play with. Veloster sports Hyundai’s all-new Gamma 1.6-liter DOHC dual continuously-variable-valve-timing four-cylinder engine, the smallest engine to use gasoline direct injection. It puts out 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. Outside of the missing horsepower it’s a really nice, smooth engine.
It’s mated to either an all-new six-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission that also incorporates Hyundai’s hill-start assist control, designed to minimize rolling backwards on steep ascents. The other transmission (standard) is a six-speed manual. With the manual transmission, Veloster gets 40 mpg on the highway (28 mpg city). The EcoShift versions gets 29mpg city/38 mpg highway. Combined, both models get 32 mpg. It should be noted that Hyundai sells more 40 mpg vehicles than any other car manufacturer.
Veloster seems to be priced right, starting at $17,300 to $22,500. Statistics show the age of the average U.S. car buyer is 50. If that’s the case, then that same average U.S. car buyer can cut his age in half by simply buying a 2012 Hyundai Veloster. Maybe the word Veloster really translates to fountain of youth.
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