The look on the Jetta driver’s face said it all.
I was sitting in the Hyundai Veloster getting ready to turn on to a main street when the Jetta drove by. The Jetta was tricked out and the driver was definitely into his car. But as he passed his gaze locked onto the Veloster. His head swiveled to take it in completely, almost as if he’d spotted the cute new girl in town and couldn’t stop himself, even as his current date looked on.
I actually noticed that look a lot during my week with the Veloster. People, mostly younger, walking by would point and give an approving nod. Hyundai’s latest creation is different, and it’s definitely getting noticed.
And just for the record, I really liked it.
Let’s start with the styling. It looks like someone took Nissan’s 370Z and squeezed it in a little. While that could have been a disaster, Hyundai did it just right. It’s got an aggressive look in a compact size. The rear design might be slightly clunky from the side, but I think it works.
One of the more interesting aspects of the design is the fact that it has three doors. Two in front, and one for the back seat. That single door is on the passenger side. The reasoning is simple, passengers shouldn’t be getting out on the traffic side so it adds convenience and safety. I also like the way they designed the door handle. Instead of standing out like the front grips, it’s recessed into a corner of the panel. In fact, most people I showed didn’t even realize there was a third door.
Inside the Veloster’s cockpit is just right. It’s sufficiently techie without throwing too much at you. I’m not normally a fan of cloth seats, but I liked the material used by Hyundai. I have a feeling its sporty yet rugged look will hold up well over time. The touch display worked well with plenty of information and options. I liked the stylish and sturdy grips for the door.
Before I get all mushy and weak kneed, I’m going to tell you that the Veloster is not perfect. It has a peppy 1.6 liter engine that pumps out about 140hp. The six speed stick transmission lets you enjoy almost every pony. So why not perfect? First, it could use just a little more low-end torque to help it jump off the line. Second, how about another 50-75 horsepower? That would take the Veloster from a fun little car to a true performer. The good news is that a turbo version is on the way. Technically a 2013 model, it’s supposed to hit the US this summer.
The Veloster is rated at 40 mpg on the highway and 28 in town. I averaged about 33 mpg without trying too hard. I was really intrigued by the Blue Max mileage game. Driver’s can get points by increasing their fuel efficiency. It saves the high score and gives you something to shoot for. It’s the perfect way to trick young drivers into smoother driving.
The best part? It could be the price. Base sticker was around $17,000. My test car had a $2,000 appearance package and a $2,000 tech package. The final sticker was $21,000. That’s a lot of fun for the money. (Rumor has it the turbo version will start at $21,500). Throw in Hyundai’s basic 5 year/60,000 miles basic warranty and a 10 year/100,000 powertrain warranty and it gets even better.
I have no idea where Hyundai came up with the goofy name. My wife and I kept calling it the velociraptor. Whatever you call it, the Veloster is a car I would seriously consider buying. If only to watch the look on the Jetta driver’s face again. (By the way, that could have been my imagination. Maybe he really was looking at the cute girl in the car behind me, which is really going to tick off his girlfriend…)
By the way, I really love the Veloster commercial that was supposedly banned from Dutch TV. No idea if that’s true, but the commercial is great.