2012 Hyundai Veloster

If you were to turn the clock back 50 years or so and ask “What will cars look like in the Future”—with the Future being Now, the Hyundai Veloster is an excellent approximation of the answer (assuming, of course, the early you weren’t thinking in the context of flying cars, which isn’t an unreasonable expectation, as this is the 21st century, which certainly resonates with a certain astronautic vibe, yet here we are in the U.S., without a spacecraft. . . .). The remarkable thing about the low-slung, highly stylized Veloster (and I’d like to argue right now that all the gushing and whewing going on for the Sonata notwithstanding, the Veloster’s remarkably formed body panels makes the Sonata look like a matronly aunt, and given that the Sonata is downright avant-garde vis-à-vis other cars in the midsize segment, this means that the Veloster is, well, quite 21st century) is that arguably, this isn’t a car that is meant to be low-volume, ultra-exclusive.

If you were to turn the clock back 50 years or so and ask “What will cars look like in the Future”—with the Future being Now, the Hyundai Veloster is an excellent approximation of the answer (assuming, of course, the early you weren’t thinking in the context of flying cars, which isn’t an unreasonable expectation, as this is the 21st century, which certainly resonates with a certain astronautic vibe, yet here we are in the U.S., without a spacecraft. . . .).

2

The remarkable thing about the low-slung, highly stylized Veloster (and I’d like to argue right now that all the gushing and whewing going on for the Sonata notwithstanding, the Veloster’s remarkably formed body panels makes the Sonata look like a matronly aunt, and given that the Sonata is downright avant-garde vis-à-vis other cars in the midsize segment, this means that the Veloster is, well, quite 21st century) is that arguably, this isn’t a car that is meant to be low-volume, ultra-exclusive. It’s a car for everyone who doesn’t want a car that pretty much looks like what everyone else is driving. And given its extreme visual appearance, the number of those people is probably on the low side; while it is too early to draw any conclusions about the viability of the Veloster as it has been on the market for but a handful of months, it does need to be noted that according to Autodata, Hyundai moved 1,693 in January 2012, and a fair comparison would be with the similarly new Accent, of which it moved 4,341 in the same period. In fact, Hyundai sold more Sonata Hybrids (2,898), which could mean that those looking for the Future are finding it elsewhere.

2

Inside the Veloster, which has a Start/Stop button centrally located on IP, where one might expect the ignition button for one’s personal rocket ship to be located, the look is not only pleasantly post-contemporary, but the materials and fit and finish of same are easily two segments up in class.

V

While this car appears to be a coupe, if one qualifies a coupe as a vehicle having two doors, then again the Veloster subverts expectations because on the passenger’s side there is a third door. While some may recall a third door on the Saturn SC, this is a bona-fide front-hinged door, not a diminutive nook cover. What’s more, the Veloster’s third door can be opened independently of the passenger’s front door, which, again, makes it more door-like.

H

The aspect of the car that is not in the least bit escape-velocity-like is its performance. It has a 138-hp engine that works seemingly exceedingly hard to move the car in space; the 0.32 coefficient of drag doesn’t help much (the Elantra, by way of comparison, is 0.28). The mass of the Veloster is a bit on the hefty side, as well; when fitted with a six-speed manual it tips the scales at a minimum 2,548 lb. So if there is a troubling element, it is that the Veloster looks like something that wouldn’t be entirely out of place in The Phantom Menace, yet has the performance of Jar-Jar Binks in a sprint.

Still the damn thing just looks sensational and when the turbocharged version comes out. . . .

Selected specs

Engine: 1.6-liter, four with gasoline direct injection & dual continuously variable valve timing

Materials: Aluminum block and head

Transmission: Six-speed manual (six-speed DCT available)

Horsepower: 138 @ 6,300 rpm

Torque: 123 lb-ft @ 4,850 rpm

Wheelbase: 104.3 in.

Length: 166.1 in.

Width: 70.5 in.

Height: 55.1 in.

EPA: 28/40/32 mpg city/highway/combined

MSRP: $17,300

Price as Driven: $21,395