Hyundai Veloster coupé
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Review Tradition dictates that cars look the same from the left as the right. Not Hyundai’s new hatchback coupé, though. It has a rear door on the passenger's side but not on the driver’s. Clever idea or gimmick? More to the point, will it lure buyers away from the the obvious alternatives, the VW Scirocco and Vauxhall Astra GTC?
From the outset, many readers will suspect the Veloster is a triumph of style over function. But at least it’s got style a-plenty. It certainly cuts more of a dash than the Scirocco, even if the Citroën DS-esque cutaways ahead of the front wheel arches are trying a bit too hard.
Triumph of style over function?
It’s a shape with a far-from-shabby drag coefficient of 0.32 - 0.02 less than the already slippery Scirocco - so all the sculpting does have a practical benefit.
Unless you have a keen eye, the Veloster actually looks the same from both sides, the only tell-tales of the two-plus-one layout are the shut lines of the rear door and the handle built into the angle of the C-pillar. The rear door isn’t a suicide type as you’d find on a Mazda RX8 but rather the conventional sort that opens forwards.
Two doors on the left side...
It opens to reveal a fair old gap too, easily large enough for the large-of-frame yours truly to climb into the rear without any ungentlemanly contortions. If you want a coupé but need to get a someone in the back on a regular basis, the Veloster really is a rather clever answer to the problem of rear entry.
For all the ease of access, though, this is still very much a coupé rather than a family hatch. So headroom is at a premium in the back, making it rather claustrophobic for anyone standing much over 5’6”.
...one door on the right
The naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine doesn’t quite match the sporty looks. On paper things look fine, with 138bhp and 123lb-ft of torque, but they are delivered high up the rev range, at 6300 and 4850rpm, respectively.
Coupé looks - hatchback performance
Headline performance numbers are par for the course for a 1.6-litre hatchback rather than a performance car, with a top speed of 123mph and the 0-62 sprint covered in 10.3 seconds. Another problem for the more adventurous driver is the electrically-assisted power steering, which is a bit lifeless.
Though based on the new i30 platform, the Veloster has to make do with a torsion beam rear axle rather than the multi-link set up used in the i30. But despite the cut-price suspension, the chassis isn’t all that bad.
Shades of the Citroën DS in the front detail
On the open road, the Veloster stays flat through the corners, suffers little in the way of understeer and the ride is composed if not up to Scirocco standards on undulating surfaces when things can get a bit floaty at speed.
Of course, since most Velosters will be bought for their looks that is all a bit irrelevant. As a means of getting between points A and B, the refined engine and semi-automatic double-clutch flappy paddle gearbox in my DCT test car work well together and it’s very quiet at motorway speeds.
Performance doesn't quite match the sporty looks
On paper, a 1.6-litre Veloster should return 44.1mpg and emit 145g/km of CO2 in the process. During my week with it, I averaged 37.2mpg.
If you want to better those numbers, there is a Blue Drive option that adds stop/start and low rolling resistance tyres to the package. This improves economy by 4.4mpg and reduces emissions by 11g/km while only adding £350 to the purchase price.
Buy for the look
Hop inside and it’s hard not to be rather impressed by the Veloster’s interior. Dominating proceedings and the centre console is a 7in touchscreen through which you control the satnav, Bluetooth and audio systems.
Inside the Veloster - in pictures
Plenty of space in the front
There's USB and two 12V power feeds
The rear legroom is a bit tight
I have to say I was impressed by how easy the system was to set up and use, and by the reliability of the voice commands. It did a very good job of interpreting the contents of both USB sticks and my iPod.
According to Hyundai, you can also feed video content from your smartphone onto the screen though I’m not sure driving along while trying to watch a movie is such a clever idea. More to the point, I couldn’t work out how to do it, despite the presence of various cables in the glove box.
You can apparently perform the same trick with gaming consoles but that strikes me as potentially suicidal, even if it’s the passenger playing the game.
As is becoming common across the Kia-Hyundai range, the Veloster has two 12V power outlets in the centre console. For such a small, cheap and peripheral feature, it really is remarkably handy.
All the interior fabrics and plastics have a quality feel to them which, if not quite at the level of the very best European manufacturers, are close enough to make quibbling pointless. The same goes for the switchgear, all of which is nicely damped. The various flying aluminium grab-handles are a pointless but visually impressive touch.
While the rear is a little cramped, the front is a paragon of spaciousness, with a near perfect driving position and environment. So while you may not be actually driving a fast car you are sitting in cabin that makes you feel like you are. And that, surely, is very much the point of the Veloster.
The Veloster looks better than it goes, but it looks rather funky. It’s no sports car but it is cheaper than the competition: the entry level Scirocco will set you back £2500 more and has less in the way of kit. It has a well made and rather stylish interior, and that extra rear door is something you will come to appreciate very quickly if you regularly travel more than two up. ®
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