Test Drive: 2012 Hyundai Veloster

(courtesy of http://hyundaicanada.com/Pages/showroom/Gallery.aspx?model=Veloster)

It’s an interesting car, this.

It certainly catches your attention, and I can see people’s eyes shift to me and lock on as I drive by, curious as to what I am driving.

It’s the new Hyundai veloster, and behind the funky new face, metallic orange paint, and squat stance is an all new 1.6L direct injected engine making 138 hp – Which doesn’t sound like a lot.

And that’s because it isn’t. That shouldn’t mean it can’t be fun, though.

Typically, the joy of an underpowered car (e.g. A Honda Civic), is that despite the modest power output, the engine revs like a chainsaw, allowing you to keep the car in its powerband, which usually is in the upper rev ranges.

That isn’t case here though. The gearing is tall-ish (to promote fuel economy, which is good at a EPA rated 7.2L/100km in the city, and despite the direct fuel injection there isn’t enough grunt at the bottom end, so you are forced to rev the engine. Which of course it seemingly doesn’t feel like doing with the tall gearing.

Ok – maybe it is better in the higher rev ranges?

Hmmm…not quite. Trying to take this car beyond 5000 rpm is a bit like teaching a dog to swim by throwing it overboard – it will do it, but it makes a big, uncomfortable ruckus, the engine groaning and thrumming uncomfortably.

It’s hard to tell what the chassis is doing too, the steering weight feels heavier than most without providing much feedback. The clutch bite point is vague and overly light, making smooth shifts a bit of a fluke. And although the shifter is precise, it feels a bit empty to me, as if there is no linkage attached.

Visibility is also a bit tricky; the large C pillars (the rear-most supports to the roof) are large, obstructing much of the view rear-ward. And the curved rear glasshouse which brings a lot of light into the cabin also distorts the view, making me a bit car-sick if I looked into the rear view mirror too much.

Despite the mediocre driving experience, it’s not a horrible car; there is good value here.

There is true keyless entry – walk to the car with the key fob in your pocket and the door unlocks when you put your hand on the handle. There is also no place for your key to go once inside the vehicle – once you have the key fob on yourself and seated inside the veloster you just hit the starter button and the engine springs to life.

There is a touchscreen central console – allowing you to control music using the space efficient touchscreen. The centre console will also play music from a USB source. Thankfully, temperature controls remain on simple and intuitive dials.

Dash showing the touchscreen and easy bluetooth connectivity. Still fond of the traditional dials for temperature control. Note the start/stop button below…

To somewhat remedy the visibility, there is also a nice backup camera as a standard feature which automatically takes over the touchscreen once you shift the car into reverse.

Probably the most unique of all is the third door on the passenger side – which allows for easier exits as you no longer have to climb over the front seats, minimizing any Britney-like exposees.

Door on the right shows the secondary door for rear passengers

And these are standard features for around 23k (out the door). Another 4k will add a panoramic roof, nicer alloys with colour inserts, and a satellite navigation system.

I can’t help but feel like this was a bit of a missed opportunity though – I feel like Hyundai could have made a better car.

It’s a bit pedestrian to drive, a bit safe, a bit boring on the road. And because of this, the car is *just* interesting – rather than an interesting car thats also great to drive.

There is a turbo version coming out soon that should fix the power issue but hopefully they can make changes to the chassis to make it fun as well.

Don’t get me wrong; despite the car’s flaws I don’t hate this car. It has some things going for it – good value, lots of toys, and good fuel efficiency. But if you are going to pay for something that looks interesting, wouldn’t you want it to drive in an interesting manner too? I mean you can’t see what the car looks like when you are driving can you?

6 Comments Add Yours

  1. Your cousin Eva

    did your dad let you test drive his for the day? LOL

  2. Bethany's Mysterious Friend

    The keylessness is very intriguing.

  3. Cynde - fellow writer

    Evaluation is fair. Would like more power now that I’ve driven mine for 9 months and the turbo version should be popular. I really like everything else about my little red car – very upscale, very comfortable and functional for the price and a well thought out design. Wouldn’t buy one without the tech package though. Let me know what you think of the 2013 turbo when you drive it !

    • Jon

      Thanks for following along Cynde!

      Will let you know once I get my hands on one!

  4. Geoff

    Very impressed with the updates on events and indepth research on various autos. Video of the autocross of different angles nicely done Jon! Love to see some 411 on the new GTI

    • Jon

      Thanks Geoff – I’ve had a couple of requests now for the GTI.

      Will work on it! hope to have something for you soon..ish. haha.

      More stuff to come. Stay tuned! Don’t forget theres lots more in addition to what you see here – I’ve tried to categorize them as best I can. You can scroll down on the right hand side and click on the various categories. Its not ideal I know, but I’m hoping to eventually transfer all this stuff onto a proper website (instead of this blog format). Will have to bear with me for now.

      Oh and please spread to your friends if you can – let me know if anybody wants a subscription!


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