2012 Hyundai Veloster review and test drive

28 Май 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2012 Hyundai Veloster review and test drive отключены
Hyundai Electric Cars

How much different can you handle?

First Glance: More Hyundai love

I have been accused — not unfairly, I suppose — of never meeting a Hyundai I didn’t like. Those who have set foot in a Hyundai dealership in the last year or so understand why I’m so enthusiastic about Hyundai, but I know a lot of you still don’t believe just how good their cars have become. Well, bad news, disbelievers: If you think I’ve been drinking the Korean Kool-aid up until now, after this review of the 2012 Veloster, you’ll think I’ve … in it.

I think the Hyundai Veloster is brilliant— and not just because I’m amazed that Hyundai came up with yet another above-par car. After the 2011 Sonata and 2011 Elantra. I’m pretty much over that.

And it’s not because of a ridiculously low price, either — the Veloster is affordable, sure, but it’s not exactly a $12,000 car.

No, the reason I love the Veloster is that Hyundai had the corporate cojones to do it right. America is a fairly conservative car market, so automakers are reluctant to introduce radically-styled vehicles, and when they do, they often pull their punches. Not the Veloster: Hyundai went full-throttle on the style inside and out, from the not-quite-a-coupe-but-not-quite-a-hatch body style to the asymmetrical door layout (one door on the left side, two on the right), even down to pricey details like optional 18 wheels with body-color inlays.

You may not think the Veloster is the prettiest car on the road, but it sure as heck stands out.

Veloster’s unique exterior style is echoed in the cabin

Photo Aaron Gold

In the Driver’s Seat: And the beat goes on

Once you open the door, you’ll see that the Veloster’s style doesn’t end with the snazzy sheetmetal. The design is radical, but doesn’t careen into stupidity. Clearly, Hyundai spent some money on this interior — the materials are all high quality and all of the switchgear feels expensive (with the possible exception of the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, which are just thin tabs of plastic).

There are lots of cool details, like these 3-dimensional door handles. All Velosters get a big, crisp 7 LCD touch-screen to control the iPod-compatible stereo and (optional) navigation system. Also standard is Blue Link, Hyundai’s answer to GM’s OnStar, a subscription service that can do everything from dialling 911 if the airbags deploy to getting turn-by-turn directions to transmitting its location and shutting down the engine if the car is stolen.

And there’s function here to go with the form. The view out the big windshield is excellent; visibility to the rear is anything but, but decent-size side mirrors make up for the bodywork’s blind spots. With a height-adjustable driver’s seat and tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, it’s easy to find a good driving position, although the seat belts are not height adjustable, and some of my taller colleagues found the belt rubbing against their neck.

And what about that crazy door layout. The idea was to provide easier access to the back seat on the curb side. I’m not totally convinced; with the low roofline and big fenderwell, getting in and out of that back door isn’t easy, and I actually had an easier time climbing into the back on the left.

But it sure looks cool!

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On the Road: Good fun if you’re not in a hurry

Unusual three-door layout is designed for easier back-seat access on the curb side

Photo Aaron Gold

The Veloster is powered by the same 138 horsepower 1.6 liter direct-injected engine that powers the 2012 Accent. At 9.8 seconds, the Veloster’s 0-60 run is more like a brisk walk. The Veloster can keep up in city traffic, but merging onto the freeway is a foot-to-the-floor affair and passing on two-lane roads requires a huge gap and a day or so of advanced planning. The Veloster would have been better off with the 1.8 liter engine from the Elantra.

Hyundai has hinted heavily* that a hot-rod turbocharged version is on the way; that’s all well and good, but the base-model Veloster still needs more power.

* All apologies for the accidental alliteration.

What I find rather interesting is the automatic transmission: Hyundai’s first twin-clutch unit. Though pricey at $1,250, the 6-speed twin-clutch (Hyundai calls it EcoShift) fires off rapid shifts that are uncannily smooth, though as with other twin-clutch economy cars, it’s a bit sluggish off the line. The Veloster is also offered with a 6-speed stick, but with a numb clutch and mediocre shift action, it doesn’t add much to the driving experience, although it does get better highway fuel economy: 28 MPG highway/40 city for the manual vs.

29/38 for the automatic.

Though the Veloster wasn’t designed for enthusiasts — that will be the job of the upcoming turbo version — it does drive pretty well. The ride is firm, but not overly so, and it grips well in the corners, with plenty of tire squeal to let you know when the front end is about to let go. I haven’t been crazy about Hyundai’s electric power steering, but the Veloster’s is the best so far; it tracks reasonably straight on the freeway and feels good in the curves.

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