Road Test: Hyundai Veloster 1.6 GDI DCT
Sector: Coupe Price: £19,250 Fuel: 44.1mpg CO2: 145g/km
With safety regulations forcing manufacturers to build similarly-proportioned cars, it’s always refreshing to see one really push the boat out and do something totally different.
Few carmakers really have this luxury. The Veloster couldn’t have rolled out of the design studios of most European manufacturers, but for Hyundai this distinctive compact coupe is a great highlight for their new way of thinking.
Breaking the norm is risky. With its single rear door on the passenger side and aggressive, hunkered down proportions, this is a car which will polarise opinions regardless of real-world performance. But it’s distinctive and sporty and after a week spent with other drivers craning to look I can report that it’s not a car for introverts.
The interior is slightly tamer, looking a little like the i40 and new i30 but with slightly inferior plastics compared to its much more European-feeling siblings. It’s also home to an unusual, possibly unique, unsymmetrical set of three electric window switches.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the driver’s car you’d hope or expect it to be. It’s based on the Elantra saloon, and despite the go-kart looks and low body roll, there’s a numbness to the experience that doesn’t quite satisfy keen drivers.
This isn’t helped by the one-engine range. The 1.6 petrol is quiet around town, but the sweet spot of its 138bhp is found at 6,300rpm and it sounds tinny when it’s there. Hyundai’s dual-clutch gearbox is smooth, but a gruff exhaust or induction noise at full throttle would liven things up, as would one of the group’s brilliant, punchy diesel engines.
Not that this is a reason to write it off. The Veloster turns heads better than plenty of much more expensive machinery and it’s genuinely characterful. It’s just a shame it’s a generation behind European-market Hyundais from behind the wheel.
Veloster isn’t as pretty as the last generation Hyundai Coupe, or as muscular as the much-praised Genesis Coupe sold globally. But it’s good to see Hyundai having the guts to try something new, and the 184bhp Turbo version due next year should up the fun factor.