2019 Hyundai Veloster N Review

One mean Korean machine


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Excellent steering feedback and precision, one of the best handling cars of the year, racy hot-hatch style, solid infotainment system.
Negatives: Clear budget cuts inside, limited visibility, no leather seating available, not as fast as the Civic Type R.
Bottom Line: The Veloster N is a bold new hot hatch that's worthy of respect. It follows an old-school formula of ditching fancy appointments and features in favor of precision and speed. It's a remarkable car to drive and does so at a very reasonable price for this much performance.
Watch out hot hatch establishment. Okay, maybe it's not so much of an establishment anymore now that the Focus RS is gone, and the Golf R is on its way out. But the new Korean sporty number is as real as it gets. The Veloster N marks Hyundai’s entry into the performance hatchback category and their first N performance line model. It takes the three-door design of the original Veloster but refines the style and adds serious track and street capability. Hyundai touched everything including the chassis, suspension, brakes, exhaust, steering, tires, and that aggressive turbocharged engine. We drove the only trim available (base) to see how it stacks up against the big boys. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

9.3

 

The N is not for the faint of heart because it's all about performance. It's the best-handling, most nimble vehicle in the Hyundai lineup, and it's significant. Those who are looking for driving thrills that only a few affordable vehicles can provide should take a serious look at this new hot hatch entrant.

Ride Quality: The ride is firm, and you can feel the road and all the undulations. It's composed thanks to the adaptive suspension, but it is unimistakably sporty in its leanings.

Acceleration: There's almost no torque steer, and the only transmission is a 6-speed manual that's quick and precise. 0-60 comes in the low fives, but we swear it feels faster. The $2,100 Performance Pack adds 25 horses, and it makes a difference.

Braking: The performance brakes are strong and authoritative with great pedal feel and progression. These are track ready, for sure.

Steering: The Veloster N's steering is super-sharp, ultra-responsive, and there's great feedback, as well. We love the increased effort while turning.

Handling: The Veloster N has immense grip. Though we didn't track it, every time we took a corner hard, it responded with taut handling and virtually no body roll. There's also virtually no understeer thanks to the adjustable dampers and the front anti-roll bar. The N keeps it all in check marvelously.

Technology

8.4

 

Though the interior is rather spartan, the in-car tech set is very good and is also well-designed and visually clean.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch touchscreen is a good one. It's responsive, easy to read, and very easy to operate like all other Hyundai systems.

Controls: The infotainment buttons are located in two clean rows below the screen, and they're large and function well. HVAC knobs are large, and they actuate well. We also love the steering wheel audio controls, as well as the big drive mode button right where your thumb lands.

Styling

8.4

 

It's definitely got the youthful look on its side thanks to more aggressive bits beyond the regular Veloster Turbo (which is still a great performer in its own right). The N badging and dark components let others know this is a serious hot hatch with the goods to back up the looks.

Front: Though the regular Veloster Turbo's front end is pretty aggressive, the N makes some changes with a different lower fascia with bigger intakes, exclusive red trim that frames the base of the grille, and that bold N badge. incorporates LED lighting.

Rear: The most noticeable upgrade is the rear wing which amps up the Veloster Turbo's single roof spoiler into a double layered version. The twin round pipes and the black diffuser add to the visual cues about what lies underneath.

Profile: Though we like the fact that it doesn't look as bulky as the last Veloster, it seems misproportioned from the side view. The rear overhang is really short, and it makes the rear wheel look pushed back too far. That being said, it's still an attractive vehicle in profile with the body creases, sloping roofline, and the aggressive wheels.

Cabin: The cabin is clean and unobtrusive, but it's a bit dark other than the blue seatbelts. Materials are overly plasticky, but this car is more about the driving experience than interior style.

Comfort

7.4

 

For what's essentially a two-seater, the Veloster N is pretty good. Most owners will never transport more than one passenger, and this segment was never created for roominess. It can't hold a candle to the four-door VW GTI or Golf R, and it only has 3-doors.

Front Seats: The sport seasts are good but not great. They do the job. Solid bolstering and decent cushioning are there, but they only come in a cheap-ish fabric instead of leather (not even optional).

Rear Seats: The rear seats are tight. Don't put anyone you like back, especially if they're over five feet tall.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Though it's not noisy inside, you do hear the rasp of the N's engine, and you do get road noise due to the performance tires.

Visibility: Visibility out the front and sides are good, but the back is compromised by the thick pillars.

Climate: The climate control system works well. We had no trouble cranking the AC on a hot summer day.

Safety

9

 

The Veloster N has not been specifically tested, but since it's based on the Veloster, which scored very well, we can attribute similar scoring to the N. It might not accident avoidance tech, but it has the basics.

IIHS Rating: The Veloster received the Top Safety Pick rating having attained "good" in all crash tests with only "poor/acceptable" headlights and "acceptable" LATCH ease of use.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: Aside from the essentials like traction control, stability control, ABS, and airbags, the Veloster N has a rearview camera and a tire pressure monitor.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

7.3

 

We were surprised by how big the boot on the Veloster N is, but it gets hampered by the narrow opening. The cabin has some good small item storage options, and they're all easy to use.

Storage Space: The center stack has a medium-sized open binnacle for phones/keys, and the center armrest is small but convenient to keep valuables out of sight. The door pockets are medium-sized and good for documents and waterbottles.

Cargo Room: The back has 19.9 cubic feet with all seats in place, and with the seats folded flat there's 109.8 cubes. It could take on bigger items if the opening was larger.

Fuel Economy

6.6

 

For such a small car, the gas mileage isn't impressive, and even the EPA ratings reflect that. The high-powered turbo four, the performance tires, and the aggressive gearing do not contribute to efficiency. No one will buy this car for fuel economy. We drove it in Race mode the entire time, which contributed to our low numbers.

Observed: 18.3 mpg.

Distance Driven: 103 miles.

Audio

8.7

 

We were rather surprised the Veloster N came with an Infinity Premium Audio System w/ 8 speakers and subwoofer as standard equipment. The system sounds great, and the bass from the subwoofer is palpable. We didn't listen to it all that much because we were enthralled by the sound of the high-revving turbo four engine.



Final Thoughts

The Veloster N proves Hyundai is serious about driving. We can't imagine they make much profit off these, but they do make a statement about where the brand is headed. More N vehicles are on the way, and the Veloster N shows what Hyundai can do with performance at even the most basic of levels. The little Veloster N is a blast to drive, comfortable enough for daily driving, and the in-car tech safety are pretty good, too. It's a remarkable new entrant in the hot hatch segment, and it deserves huge amounts of recognition for the brand's first foray into serious performance. The Germans really do need to watch out.
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