What is it?
Hyundai’s new three-door quasi-coupe, and a possible answer to the question ‘show me an interesting Korean car.’ Ever since the Hyundai Coupe was quietly killed off a couple of years ago the company’s range has been devoid of anything in the way of the excitement – and the Veloster is certainly different. It gets a unique ‘three door’ layout, only having a rear door on the passenger side, along with reasonably sporty proportions.
Apart from the door layout there’s not much new or novel about the Veloster. Suspension is entirely conventional, and derived from Hyundai’s duller mid-sized models with McPherson struts at the front and – disappointingly – a torsion beam axle at the rear instead of a proper independent set up.
The only engine available from launch is a 1.6-litre direct injection petrol unit, which combines 138bhp with a relatively anaemic 123lb ft of torque – the latter delivered at a peaky 4850rpm. Buyers can choose between six-speed manual or a six-speed DCT – Hyundai’s first ever dual clutch. Kerbweight is a respectable 1236kg, but it takes the manual Veloster an unsporting 9.7 seconds to drag itself from rest to 62mph, on its way to a 125mph top speed.
What’s it like to drive?
Decent. If you’ve not driven a Korean car since the bad old days you’d likely be pleasantly surprised how close to class competitiveness many of them, including the Veloster, now get. The light steering gives only sketchy feedback, but the Veloster certainly gives off a decent impression of enthusiasm – changing direction keenly and with a pliant, well-damped ride at everyday speeds.
Increase pace and the Hyundai’s case wanes in direct proportion. The front end lacks grip when you start to really press on, and as the limit approaches so you find yourself stuck in safe, boggy understeer. Asking the chassis to digest rougher surfaces at higher speeds can also cause some evident confusion as the springs and dampers struggle to keep up.
The engine lacks any sort of low-down enthusiasm. Extracting performance requires use of a big stick, and although (once woken up) it’s keen to rev both to and through the 6300rpm that peak power arrives at, sounding good as it does so, quicker progress means keeping busy with the gearstick. Fortunately it’s a nice, accurate change action, even if a bit on the light side.
How does it compare?
Here’s where it gets interesting – the basic Veloster 1.6 GDI that we drove weighs in at £17,995 and comes with generous standard kit. That’s £1800 less than the most basic 122bhp 1.4 TSI Volkswagen Scirocco. Perhaps more pertinent to potential punters is the fact it undercuts the entry price for the Vauxhall Astra GTC as well – being £500 less than the most basic 118bhp 1.4 Sport.
Anything else I need to know?
We’ve heard that a turbocharged version will follow, which should remedy the lack of punch, and which also gets a far more aggressive visual treatment.