“Everyone that has driven this things loves it”. This is what the Hyundai rep told me in trying to convince me a Hyundai was the best vehicle for the job of conquering the Tail of the Dragon in just a couple days. I couldn’t get the fact that it was a Hyundai out of my head though. This is especially when I’ve had cars like the Mazda Miata, Lexus RCF and own a Lexus ISF, all cars that would think would be better for the job.
When the N finally showed up at my door I was surprised, starting with how it looked. Even in a traditionally less manly robins egg blue-ish color, it had a big wing and an even bigger personality. While the first gen Veloster was different, it was never really a looker. The weird three door setup struck people as odd. This was quite evident in the sales figures as it sold only 10% of its PB platform mate Kia Soul. The new Veloster kept the same idea, but improved it into a car I can actually like.
During my first few days of commuting, the Veloster N was fine but never really impressed me beyond that. Most of the materials are fine if not a bit boring. There is a lot of plastic with the door inserts probably being the worst offender. Overall it really is good enough for a car in this price range. As far as technology, the Infiniti Premium radio with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is easy to use and sounds wonderful with its clear audio and deep base. Other than that, the N is pretty bare bones. No blind spot monitoring, no radar cruise, no collision warning. It’s a pure drivers car.
In traffic, the lighter than usual clutch is welcome. In fact, I’ve seen more than one article since the N was released talking about the virtues of the manual transmission. It’s known as one of the easiest cars to learn how to drive a manual. The only downside I found was that same clutch that made traffic easy, also meant the feeling was kind of numbed out. The great torque takes a lot of the issues a light clutch normally presents, but hill start/stops are a pain.
The seats are comfortable with the only issue in natural seating position being visibility, definitely not the fault of the sat but rather the overall design. This is mostly due to the slope back design that makes it as aggressive as it is. While you can see out the back, the distance is less than ideal and blind spots are prevalent. Hyundai attempted to fix a bit of this with a blind spot mirror for the drivers side, but the design of the mirror is not optimal. That same slope back also makes for unfortunate rear seat ingress and egress. While the third door is quite handy in comparison to a typical two door coupe, people getting in have to watch their heads as the door frame is short. The trunk space is surprisingly deep and had no problem holding all of our gear for the weekend with room for a lot more as we loaded it on Thursday night.
Friday afternoon we made our way east from Nashville to Deals Gap, a drive of over four hours in the little hot hatch. When I first jumped on the freeway the noise alarmed me. Luckily, a simple change of turning the exhaust setting from N, to normal made it quiet. For a sportier model, the ride of the N is quite compliant over long distances and the powertrain had no issues keeping up with the E93 Dinan M3 we caravaned with while averaging in the high twenty MPGs. As we drove up Highway 129 towards Fontana Resort where we were staying, I got my first taste of how the Hyundai was going to handle the curves. In short, I was excited for Saturday.
The next morning, we made our way towards the Tail of the Dragon to meetup with the rest of the group and from there made our way towards the Cherohala Skyway. With some much faster drivers in front, I had to learn what the Veloster N could do very quickly just to try to keep up. Tight turns, increasing radius turns, long straights, shorts straights, and hard braking. I gave the N everything I could. It was easy to come to the conclusion the N could do everything being one of the most balanced cars on the market today.
Front wheel drive car should have under and torque steer but the Veloster magically doesn’t. The car does what you want just about every time no matter the speed or corner. If you respect the car and pay attention, the car will do what you ask. The bolster on the seats will hold you and your passengers in one spot all while the 2.0L four cylinder turbo send gunshot sounds out of the exhaust. The Hyundai made for what came to be the single greatest day of driving I have ever had. The only breaks in the fun came from the constant need for petrol stops to refill the incredibly tiny 13.2 gallon gas tank. I found myself refilling at every opportunity as the 13.2 gallon tank could be evaporated in as little as 150 miles on these roads far away from any gas station.
One of the most surreal moments of the drive was coming down the Tail of the Dragon for the last time as we headed home. The right mix of song, speed, and lack of traffic meant for a run I will never forget. The changes between first, second, and third were nothing as the rev matching did most of the work allowing me to focus on the road ahead. Even as the Dinan M3 brakes started to boil slowing our group down a bit, the Hyundai ate up the hill like it was nothing. The car allowed me to put to do exactly what needed to be done to make it down that hill as fast and safe as possible.
After the drive back Sunday afternoon, I was back to commuting Monday and still not sick of the Veloster. I was still banging it over the redline, waiting for those hilarious gunshot like cracks. Waiting for the burble as I came to a stop. That’s the sign of a good car. After over 750 miles in a short 5 days, I didn’t want to change vehicles. I just wanted more of the noise and more of the fun that the Veloster provided.
A couple years ago I was looking for a new car. I tried the Focus ST and the Subaru WRX but didn’t find something close enough to wanted until I bought my ISF. THat is until now. If I knew the Hyundai Veloster N was going to be an option, I would have a different car in my garage right now. It is the king of hot hatches and easily one of the best sports cars on sale today.