Now, before I go on about the way this thing drives, let me take the time to express my impressions about the styling.
It sure looks unusual doesn’t it?
Especially with those two doors on one side and single door on the other. You can actually notice that the B pillars aren’t located at the same position on each side. From some angles, especially from the driver’s profile view, the Veloster looks absolutely gorgeous, reminding me of the Honda CRX, one of my favorite cars of all time.
But from other angles, such as the rear, it looks too tacky, too over-the-top, and, well too plastic for my tastes. I’m also not a big fan of the two enormous red reflector lights in the rear bumper.
Nevertheless, the Veloster did attract a lot of attention during the week I had it, especially that matte blue paint job. People had mixed opinions, with comments ranging from “looks amazing!” to “what an awful-looking car!”
Everyone I met, though, was intrigued and wanted to know more about the Veloster, which, I assume, is exactly what Hyundai was aiming for with the design of this car.
On paper, the Veloster does indeed boast some impressive numbers. Weighing in at just 1305 kg, the power-to-weight ratio is decent and in tune with the competition. In fact, Hyundai prides itself that the Veloster Turbo is 70 kg lighter than a 4-door Volkswagen Golf GTI while offering roughly the same amount of power.
And you do feel that power behind the wheel. There’s a solid push of boost delivered down low, followed by a linear and steady delivery all the way to redline; with peak power happening at around 6,000 rpm. It all makes for a broad range of usable performance.
It’s also a very flexible engine, providing impressive fuel economy (9.4 L/100 km average) and running on regular octane gas. In every day casual driving, thanks to the low-end torque, it’ll sit comfortably in 6th gear, providing ample passing power without requiring a downshift.
The Veloster Rally also emits a satisfying intake growl accompanied by a subtle turbo woosh. It sounds properly sporty, very tuner-ish, but remains somewhat subdued compared to, let’s say, a Ford Fiesta ST.
This is, without question, a fun car to drive, one which you’ll enjoy ripping through the gears and drive like a hooligan.
There is, however, a slight problem with steering feel. Although much improved over the standard Veloster thanks to a shorter steering rack and added resistance, it still feels somewhat vague. There’s also a rather wide dead zone when placed on center.
The tiny Veloster, with its abundance of overwhelming power on tap, isn’t a refined sports car by any means, but remains a sports car nonetheless, one that is respectfully quick off the line. According to Car and Driver, it’ll hit 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds.
I also enjoyed the 6-speed manual transmission. It’s not as “snick snick” as what you get in a Honda, but the short throws and precise cog engagement from that B&M Racing shifter, combined with a light clutch and surprisingly more than satisfying brakes, all add up to a fun and almost old-school driving experience.
One-wheel Peel Monster
Where the Veloster disappoints, however, is in its chassis dynamics. Yes, the Rally Edition receives a much-needed suspension upgrade over the standard Turbo and does feel generally nimbler, stiffer, and more reactive. I’m also impressed at how well Hyundai has calibrated this new suspension setup, leading to a much more focused car in every way.
But the Veloster still falls short from being a stellar handling machine.
First, there’s the lack of a limited-slip differential. This means that not only will the Veloster exhibit a fair amount of wheel hop when launched hard, it annoyingly peels from one wheel and plows forward when power is applied coming out of a corner.
This not only prevented me from truly pushing the car’s limits; it’s also the reason why the Veloster is unable to put down a faster 0-100 time.
Also, the rear suspension is a solid axle design, which, although it will happily wiggle upon throttle lift off, doesn’t deliver the confidence-inspiring handling characteristics as in a Fiesta ST for instance. Instead, the Veloster’s rear end bounces aggressively when driven fast over road imperfections, making for a car that can be very unsettling; almost scary at the limit.