2019 Hyundai Veloster: Who Would Have Figured?

Hyundai develops the second generation of a car that competes with cars like the VW Beetle and the Fiat 500, yet which is visibly in a category of its own.

In 2017, according to its own figures, Hyundai Motor America (HMA) sold 12,658 Velosters in the U.S. Not only is that a comparatively small number by almost any metric—and realize that this is a car that had a starting price of $18,100, so it is not like “Well, there were only 13,711 Maseratis sold in 2017. . .”—but in the context of sales of the sporty compact with three doors (and we’re not counting the hatch) in 2016, it was quite a tumble: there were 30,053 Velosters sold in 2016. What more, there was no 2018 Veloster, as Hyundai simply created “a long 2017 model year.”

So one might figure that with diminished sales of a vehicle that seemed to be simply running its string out there would be no second act for the car that debuted in 2012 as a model year 2012 vehicle.

Related Stories

But were one to figure that, they’d be wrong.

Mike O’Brien, HMA vice president of Product, Corporate & Digital Planning, points out that their data show that 51 percent of early purchasers of the Veloster had never considered a Hyundai, so the Veloster not only caused consideration, but actually revenue. In addition to which, 70 percent of the early purchasers replaced a non-Hyundai vehicle with the Veloster. And 44.6 percent of those who had purchased a Veloster bought another Hyundai vehicle.

So think about that:

  1. More than half of the buyers had never thought about Hyundai
  2. A significant number of vehicles from companies including Honda, Mazda and Nissan were replaced by a Veloster
  3. The brand loyalty engendered by the Veloster was solid.

O’Brien also points out that the Veloster buyer is younger than the typical Hyundai customer—a median age of 49 versus 55—and makes more—a median household income of $81,000 versus $74,000. Which is to say that these are the kind of people that any OEM wants, and O’Brien acknowledges that they are all the more important to Hyundai as it works to further establish its presence in the U.S. market.

So what they’ve done is created a car that continues to have style and sportiness and presumably an appeal that will continue to bring young(er) people to the brand, fully recognizing that having an economical price is an important aspect: the starting MSRP for the Veloster 2.0 with a six-speed manual transmission and a 2.0-liter, 147-hp Atkinson cycle engine.

As is the case with virtually every new development of a vehicle, the size of the 2019 Veloster is bigger than the model it replaces:

                                           2017                        2019

Length:                               166.1 (inch)             166.9

Width:                                70.5                         70.9

Height:                               55.1                         55.1

Wheelbase:                         104.3                       104.3

One thing worth noting is that although the height of the vehicle is the same as the last generation car, the roofline is faster. That might seem as though those who are sitting in the back seat might have compromised headroom. Yet they’ve actually increased the rear headroom for the 2019 model. With the sunroof the rear headroom is 35.9 inches for the new car—it is 35.3 inches for the previous. Turns out that this is achieved by using a seat foam for the bottom cushion that is thinner than the previous chemistry yet doesn’t give up anything in the way of comfort for the car. This is seating technology that comes from the Ioniq, which leads to an explanation of how Hyundai can make a car like the Veloster, a car that has, even when things are going very well, limited demand: As O’Brien explains, the engineers who worked on the vehicle were able to borrow things that are used in other, greater volume vehicles, like the Elantra, for the Veloster. Consequently, this means that there is a spreading of some of the costs across a greater number than would otherwise be the case.

Another aspect is the overall simplification of the offerings. That is, there are two basic versions of the 2019 car, one with a 2.0-liter engine and one with a 1.6-liter turbo, which are simply designated Veloster 2.0 and Veloster Turbo. For the former, there is one variant, which is the 2.0 Premium. The Turbo comes in three flavors, with the Turbo model flanked on one side by the R-Spec, a performance package, and by the Ultimate, a luxe package, on the other. There are three transmissions, a six-speed manual that is standard on the 2.0, R-Spec and Ultimate; a six-speed automatic that is standard on the Premium; and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission that’s standard on the Turbo.

The all-aluminum 2.0-liter engine, the Hyundai Nu, produces 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm (estimated) and 132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm (also estimated). It featured dual continuously variable valve timing, electronic throttle control and variable induction. Then there’s the Gamma engine, the 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injected four that provides 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm (estimated) and 195 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm (again, as this is an early drive, estimated). There is an over-boost function that, when the throttle is fully engaged, provides peak torque of 202 lb-ft.

To accommodate the power that the car can put down, all models offer torque vectoring control, which combines inputs from wheel speed sensors to engage with electronic stability control system and the powertrain control system such that there is active braking applied to the inside front wheel and power to the outside front wheel (this is a front-drive car) so that there is better grip and reduced wheelspin.

The suspension setups for the models have MacPherson struts with coil springs and gas-filled hydraulic twin-tube shocks in the front and a multi-link suspension in the rear with the same type of shocks. Because of the more robust performance of the Turbo models, the front stabilizer bar is 24 mm in diameter rather than 23 mm for the 2.0 models; the rear stabilizer bar is 19 mm compared with 15 mm.

One of the areas of attention for the new model was mass reduction, so, for example, the vehicles deploy aluminum front steering knuckles and an aluminum rear suspension carrier, which reduces mass, vis-à-vis the previous generation 10.6 pounds and 8.4 pounds, respectively.

The styling of the Veloster essentially takes the previous generation’s design and amplifies it. For example, the grille is significantly widened and the fender forms are greatly accentuated. The third door, which is essentially camouflaged in the body side, remains on the passenger side of the car; central exhaust pipes at the rear continue, as well.

A big change from the previous generation is the amount of technology that’s available. For example, the Veloster features a forward-facing camera that is used for the standard forward collision avoidance assist and lane keep assist. There are standard driver attention alert and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Then the options start ramping up from blind-spot collision warning with rear-cross traffic alert to pedestrian detection for the forward collision-avoidance assist.

One of the terms that is used to describe the Veloster is “asymmetrical.” As in the third door. As in the front cabin area where there is a styling difference that goes beyond the steering wheel on one side and the glove box on the other: there are even available color differences between the two.

It is an edgy approach for a mass manufacturer. But it is laudable in that Hyundai is taking advantage of the economies of scale that its mass provides by creating something that fits a niche as other manufacturers seem to be assiduously avoiding them.

 

 

Fig. 1 072018ADP-Feature-Veloster1.jpg

The new model features a wider grille. Those vertical slots that are just ahead of the front tires are functional air curtains.

Fig. 2 072018ADP-Feature-Veloster2.jpg

If you look carefully you’ll notice that the color of the material on the passenger’s side of the Veloster Turbo is light whereas the driver’s side is dark: an example of the asymmetrical approach.

Fig. 3 072018ADP-Feature-Veloster3.jpg

Even though you have a car that delivers a best-in-class specific output of 125.6 horsepower per liter, you still might like some cargo capacity: pop the hatch and there is 19.9-ft3 of space behind the second row—even more when the rear seats are folded.

Fig. 4  072018ADP-Feature-Veloster4.jpg

The fender forms of the 2019 Veloster are far more accentuated than is the case with the first-generation car.