Hyundai has been making inroads into a lot of segments lately with some steady performers in all the major ones. So it would seem that now is a good time for them to branch out into a few niche segments. Enter the Veloster.
The Veloster has just been let loose onto the unsuspecting South African market. It is a great looking coupe hatchback that is set to do battle with Volkswagen’s Scirocco, Audi’s A1, BMW’s 1 Series, Citroen DS series and the Mini Cooper. That is some serious competition, but fret not, as Hyundai has come very prepared with the Veloster.
The Veloster’s exterior styling is based on the recent fluidic sculpture design language incorporated into most recent Hyundai models. But with the Veloster, the design team added what they call “carving ray” design. The naming makes sense, as many lines are more angular and sharper than the “usual” design. It does add up to a very good-looking car. The Veloster also has a striking rear-end and sits even lower than the VW Scirocco. The lights are remarkably unique and the double tail-pipe in the middle adds to its striking looks. The exterior is rounded off by arresting 18” alloy wheels.
The truly unique bit about this car, however, is the 1+2 door configuration. The Veloster has a single door on the driver’s side and two doors on the passenger side. This means that the Veloster could be just as appealing to people looking for the practicality of a 5-door hatchback as those looking for the style of a 3-door coupe.
The unique design doesn’t stop on the outside. The interior is based on superbike lines, looking great and uncluttered. The modern 7” touch screen is also great. The black leather seats are very comfortable whilst supportive. Most of the interior functions can be driven and fiddled with through the screen. The car is also fitted with climate control, cruise control, rear park assist with built-in camera, auto lights and an awesome sound system (4 speakers, 2 tweeters, centre speaker and subwoofer). This is obviously aimed at the younger target market.
Apart from being a looker, the Veloster is also extremely safe with a full 5-star safety rating. It has 6 airbags, ABS with EBD and ESP. It continues the trend for super-safe Hyundai vehicles.
Hyundai decided to introduce South Africa to its new GDi engine technology with the Veloster. It ups the performance without a fuel penalty. Performance is up around 18% from the previous 1.6l MPi engine. The 1.6l GDi engine in the Veloster has a max power output of 103kW@6300rpm and 167Nm@4850rpm. That is pretty impressive for a 1.6l engine.
Even though the GDi technology is impressive, I’m not sure that this was the right engine choice for the Veloster. Everything about the car screams sporty, except performance. The car felt underpowered and with a surprisingly decent and solid chassis, Hyundai could have given it more go. The chassis definitely feels as though it can handle a lot more power than the current model offers.
We got a chance to drive both the manual transmission versions and the newly in-house developed DCT (Double Clutch Transmission). I actually enjoyed the short-throw manual transmission a lot more than the DCT. The DCT felt a bit erratic as it has to hunt for gears a lot, with the car being a bit under-powered. Hyundai did promise a much more powerful turbo-charged version around July/August this year.
The Veloster will initially just be launched in single spec with a choice of manual and automatic transmission, with pricing as follows:
R259 900 – 1.6GDi Manual 6-speed
R276 900 – 1.6GDi DCT 6-speed
Included in the price is Hyundai’s 5year/150 000km warranty, 5year/150 000 roadside assistance and a 5year/90 000km service plan.
All in all the Veloster is an extremely strong entry and a great looking car. Although Hyundai doesn’t see the Veloster to be a volume seller, I’m pretty sure it will be a success. With the features list, stunning looks and good pricing, this model is set to take the fight to the competition.