I like the Hyundai Veloster

UPDATE: There is some Veloster news from Australia today, both good and bad. The good news for Hyundai is that they’re essentially sold out of Velosters at the moment. New buyers will have to wait three months for the 2+1 coupes, which according to Hyundai is a very pleasant surprise.

The bad news is that whilst the Veloster Turbo will be coming here mid-year, it’s predicted to sell for around $35K. It wasn’t so long ago that Hyundai got a foothold in the Aussie market selling cheap and cheerful hatchbacks for $13,000 on the road. Even if they can tune the chassis adequately (it takes more than just a turbo engine to make a decent driver) $35K seems like a bit too much, too soon, for a Hyundai hatch.


I never, ever thought I’d use the words “like” and “Hyundai” in the same sentence (not without including the words “to mock”, at least).

I remember a reader back in the SU days, a guy from Ireland called “J-Fan”, who trumpeted Hyundai’s virtues and was dismissed as quite possibly being mentally deficient by many at the time, me included (he’s still around, too – hello J-Fan). I drove an i30 for a week around 18 months ago and I thought it was absolute rubbish.

But I have to admit, I like the Hyundai Veloster. J-Fan’s revenge, perhaps?

I like what I see as a pretty funky design choice, with one door on the driver’s side and two doors on the passenger side. It’s perfect for someone who prefers coupes but sometimes has to carry someone in the back. I like the way they’ve executed the door designs, too. What I admire even more, however, is the courage and commitment Hyundai have shown to actually build this vehicle, and especially the fact that they’re building it in both right- and left-hand drive.

Have a look over the following video. Get past the hipster stuff and weigh up the offering objectively. If you find the design interesting, then it’s a very curious proposition.

The additional costs associated with making this 2-1 door configuration into a global vehicle must be huge, but given that Hyundai (and child brand, Kia) have been kicking goals all over the world in the last three years, they can obviously afford to make a statement like the Veloster.

Pros: The styling is cool, the practicality looks great and the equipment list is modern and generous.

Reservations: modest power (when’s that turbo model coming?), driveability, interior materials (horrible in the i30 I drove) and storage space.

I guess the evaluation of those would need a test drive. Hopefully Hyundai might be listening/reading – let’s see how good their media monitors are.

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    1. Could be, Brendan. Wouldn’t be the first time Hyundai’s been accused of….. making their vehicles similar to those of others 🙂

      I’m not sure if the timing works for the accusation, though. Both are very recent releases, developed around the same time, aren’t they? Vehicle design takes a looooong lead.

      1. The Megane was launched in September 2008 (it’s taken a while for it to get to Australia). The Veloster was launched January 2011, there’s 2+ years in there.

      2. I was going to mention this too, and I think you can guess the mark whose concept cars I believe the Veloster borrowed some of its design cues from…

        That said, at least they have the good taste to copy good stuff. I like this car, and not just because I’m a cyclist and it’s got Velo in its name. This is definitely one that I would check out if I was looking for a new car.

      3. Dang, that one Hyundai was a direct NG900 hit. Very close.

        Unfortunately for Hyundai, that first generation Kia Optima is a dead ringer for the Mitsouka Galue 204. They are both quite unattractive.

  1. I’ll check it out shortly but also wanted to post that I, in similar (cant believe I just said that) mode, have similar sentiments towards the KIA Optima. Including the turbo bit – which is already an option in some countries but not here in Australia. Aesthetically and equipment wise, a really neat piece of work.

    1. Very neat. Hyundai/Kia have come a long way. There’s a lot of features in common with the Optima as you might expect, given that they are built in the same factory – panoramic sunroof, 6 speed auto with paddle-shift, leather seats, 18″ wheels and the LED lights all spring to mind. You can see design influences from the good old Honda Civic/CRX (silhouette) and also the MazdaRx-8 (rear passenger door). I think the 3 doors is quite a novelty and certainly thinking laterally. I wonder how many bums they slid across the back seat when they were checking the wear n tear factor from constant same-side entry?
      Putting a skateboard in the boot shouldn’t have to involve folding down the rear seat, though – that doesn’t increase it’s market appeal on the video!

      I drove the Optima late last year and was very impressed except for transmitted road noise via the 18″ wheels, with extreme low-profile tyres and access to the (generous) boot wasn’t great, as no hatch back.
      Good post Swade.

      1. I agree that Hyundai is brave to introduce a car as radical as the Veloster…however, i’m amazed that they aren’t brave enough (at least in the US) to offer the Kia Optima Turbo w/ a 6sp manual (only on the base model), nor are they brave enough to offer either the Elantra or Optima in a wagon form. If they did, they might be one of the few (or only) companies to offer an affordable alternative to my 9-5 Wagon in the United States…

  2. But you can fit a unicycle in the boot without compromising your seating.
    I could only be interested in a Turbo version.
    Good amount of fruit, though

  3. I think that I like the Veloster for the same reasons that you do, Swade. It’s a bold and unique stroke. There is very little ‘me too’ about it.

    On the flip side, this thing is small. TINY. I saw one in person the weekend and I simply couldn’t drive it. I imagine that third door is really needed and adds a great deal of utility.

    I rented a Kia Optima (base, automatic) in New Jersey my last trip there. It looked pretty good, but it drove like a nervous chipmunk trying to find footing. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven a car that had that much trouble keeping the rubber on the road. The laughably hard tires certainly should bear part of the blame, but the chassis has zero coordination, especially on uneven pavement.

    In contrast, I’ve rented a handful (4?) of Hyundai Sonatas and they are much more polished.

    I hope the Veloster has the chassis tuned the right way.

  4. “drove like a nervous chipmunk”.

    Statement of the year! And this sums up the situation surrounding Saab for the last two decades.
    I could swear that if the good ‘ol 9-3 chassis would be used to create a small Saab with all the looks and trendy stuff the Hyundai has, it would get huge praises and sell like hotcakes -if owned by a financially strong entity.
    It’s such a shame good real-life handling and quality has absolutely no value if it can’t or won’t be explained/translated to the customer.

    Saab fell off peoples radars due to GM’s complete failure in keeping the interior stuff up to date and marketing.
    Lets hope THN gets one more shot at it. Sorry Swade for going OT 😉

    1. The first time I saw the veloster I did do a bit of a double-take also. It’s not bad looking on the outside for what it is. Inside is very uninspiring to me, but lets face it, it’s a cheap car. With a turbo it would be fun for many.

      wrt Saab, Hyundai/Kia have been borrowing from many brands over the years (remember the Amanti? ha!), but Saab is one of their bigger influences. I remember a friend noting the similarity of an older Elantra hatch with the og9-3. And the last gen sonata is styled significantly like a 9-5 (if one compares with the broader marketplace), and they were quick on the recent turbo bandwagon. Many Saab fans have liked the Genesis coupe (some aeroX inspiration in it)… The Veloster looks to me like a “flow”-ier production version of that show car H/K did a few years back that followed the form of a 9-X or whatever… there’s some underlying Saab inspiration there for sure…

      I really agree with your analysis Swade. I think with a turbo it would be pretty cool for many. I would add to your reservations:

      1) rust – I live in the saltbelt + H/K cars do not fare well in that regard! the only modern cars that seem to do worse are Mazdas + Ford Focus… of course, if one looks at cars as disposable every 3-4 years, that is a non-issue.

      2) safety – sure they are 5 stars, but look at HDLI numbers – H/K numbers are improving to the point of now being average, but for a cheap small car, I wouldn’t bank too much on the “5 star” marketing…

      I can certainly think of worse options in that market segment though!


  5. About the design and it being “it’s own” I have one word: Priusyrenaultycitrôensky. Yes I came up with the word myself 😉

    The interior looks like so many out there.

    I Like the roofline from the side though.


  6. Ah the ‘H’ word. I remember the violent reaction at SU all right, but ‘mentally deficient’?! Well, I know how hard it was for you to make this admission, so I’ll let it go…

    You know, the sunvisor broke in my father’s Sonata once…

  7. Swade, glad to read this. Just yesterday I read the Veloster summary by J Clarkson which was not so good ::collective gasp:: As you may or may not know, I am without a vehicle at the moment. I first noticed the tantalizing commercials, then saw it in the flesh at the Boston Auto Show a couple months ago. Initially I was really struck by the size of the car, exponentially smaller than I envisioned. (although with a roofline like that, I don’t know why I was so surprised) The back seat seems completely inhospitable, head-room specifically, hardly accommodating my smaller frame. Despite all of this I am terribly intrigued still. I have not yet had the opportunity to drive one, but from what I understand the experience is utterly unsatisfying. With the release of a turbo model I may seriously consider. My only reservation: For a similar price (minus warranty) I can get a 2007 9-3 2.0T manual from Pierre @ Charles River.

  8. I just saw my viral veloster this week here in the states. One went flying by me with a nice sounding engine…maybe modified. I’m glad people are seeing the similarities that H/k have with older saabs. And the veloster has some Saab design cues.

    On another note… I can’t believe the design cues that are coming out these days. If Saab were running today with a 5-7 car lineup with true Saab design. They would be doing very well.

    I look at the BMW X6. Looks like a beefy Saab Hatch. Honda and Acura with 5door hatches. And now small SUVs some even becoming convertibles. Saab should have been in the game with some exciting cars. The trend is becoming unquie design something Saab used to have.

    I hope some day they bring it back…

  9. Intersting concept. I like the big driver’s door which is why I generally like coupes/3 drs. over 4dr/5drs.. The 2 passenger doors on the other side neatly get around my dislikes with 5 door hatches and adds practicality. I’m not sure about the interior. The dash is quite garish and reminds me of some current GM offerings.

    I wonder if a turbo will be in the offing?

  10. Issue is that you only live once and I for one can’t imagine wasting time to ever own a Hyundai/Kia. Plus, the Koreans, if you really know them are some of the most arrogant racists on the planet. Why support that culture who looks down on most others? All countries have issues, but they are an extreme… Not to mention their constant ripping of others and other forms of cheating.

  11. Some fluetic teeners there. If proves to be a car that drives really well and fun all the luck to it. But should one take for serious something that start with graffiti guy and ends with a some bubbly cheerleader rejects and a guy that needs the whole luggage for his skateboard. This car seems only marketed to kids who have parents that can buy them one. There are off course lots of elderly graffiti artists nowdays but i’m pretty sure none of them would buy this car even if they could afford it.