2012 Hyundai Veloster

Review: 2012 Hyundai Veloster

Hyundai's little three-door spends some time with us.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: December 18th, 2011

What’s small, has three doors, and is the latest in a long line of automotive oddities? Give up? The answer is: The 2012 Hyundai Veloster.

The Veloster earns oddity status through its three-door hatchback configuration and smushed looks, otherwise it’s a fairly conventional car. That’s kinda like saying that Charlie Sheen is conventional just because he’s human.

  • Exterior

    Apparently feeling that the rear-drive Genesis Coupe wasn’t enough to fill the small and inexpensive sports car market, Hyundai replaced the late Tiburon with the front-drive Veloster, which is meant to appeal to urban buyers in the under-35 demographic who have a flair for sporty performance and design. Particularly if they also happen to be on a budget. We’ll get to the sportiness later, for now, let’s take a look at that styling.

    One journalist colleague compared our tester to an AMC Gremlin, and it’s fair to say the Veloster got stares wherever it went. Some were kind, some were not. The third door does integrate nicely into the passenger side—even up close, some didn’t notice it.

    Whether one likes it or not, the Veloster does look sporty, and it gives small-car shoppers one more option. It also seems to catch the enthusiast’s eye—we liked the styling overall, even if it is a bit, um, controversial.

  • Performance

    Of course, spirit is in more than the eye of the beholder. A car that looks fast may not actually be fast, and that is sadly the case with the Veloster, which comes equipped with Hyundai’s 1.6-liter 138 horsepower four-cylinder. Please note that this is the same engine that powers the more mainstream Accent hatchback and sedan.

    Even when mated to a six-speed manual transmission, the Veloster feels just a wee bit short of breath. Get it rolling and get rowing with the gears, and the Veloster is fun. Trouble is, getting it going takes a fair bit of patience, and the off-the-line jump isn’t quite enough. Hyundai has promised a turbo, and that may cure the Veloster’s ills.

    Another ill is the steering—it’s not bad, but we’d like it to be a bit tighter and sportier in feel, especially since the car handles just fine. A little more connection with the road is never a bad thing.

    The ride is pretty composed for a car of this size and stature—the Veloster may not be the first choice for long highway cruises, but for commuter duties it’s beyond acceptable.

    Sliding through the gears is fun, the shifter cooperates with satisfying snick-snicks and the clutch is tuned to just about right. And you’ll be shifting a lot—not only is the Veloster short on low-end grunt, but it’s also quite rev-happy.

  • Interior

    Hyundai has gone to great lengths to make sure the interior offers plenty of verve, and they’ve delivered. From the angular interior-door grab handles that stick out to the stylized center stack, the interior is a feast for the eyes, and offers the easily distracted plenty of things to play with. Things such as Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, which can enable drivers to use their smartphones to stay connected to the grid, so to speak.

  • Features & Prices

    Other goodies included satellite radio, a 7-inch touch screen, remote keyless entry, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, air conditioning, Bluetooth, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system. Those features should make buyers forget about the Veloster’s smallish interior—the rear, in particular, is more than a little tight.

    Safety goodies included traction control, ABS, and an antiskid system. 17-inch wheels, a rear wiper, and LED headlight accents add to the standard exterior features.

    Our car had the optional Style Package—adding 18-inch wheels, a chrome grille surround, fog lamps, a panoramic sunroof, black interior accents, a premium audio system with a subwoofer, leatherette seats and door inserts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, alloy pedals, and an automatic up window on the driver’s door. That package tacked $2,000 on top of the $17,300 base price. Our pre-production tester had no destination fee, so the total stayed at $19,300.

  • Fuel Economy

    Hyundai promises fuel-economy numbers of 28 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, and we achieved 24.4 mpg in mostly urban commuting.

  • Conclusion

    The Veloster is an interesting little vehicle. It looks good (to some, at least), the third door and hatchback adds versatility, and the little runabout has some sporty flavor along with the potential for high fuel-economy. It does need a shot of power and some improvement in the steering if it wants to satisfy enthusiasts, but Hyundai has already promised to address at least one of those needs.

    For the sport-minded enthusiast on a budget, the Veloster represents a good bargain, despite its shortcomings. The same can’t be said of Charlie Sheen.

Shopping for a used
Hyundai Veloster?

• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2012 Hyundai Veloster, click here: 2012 Hyundai Veloster.