December 8, 2011

Hyundai Veloster

Base price: $18,550
As Driven: $23,635
Engine: 1.6 L DOHC 4 cylinder
Transmission: 6 speed automated manual
Curb Weight: 2,657 lbs.
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
MPG rating: 29city, 38 hwy

Concept cars infest auto shows.  Normally we treat them with awe, wonder, and then disdain since we’ll never see them again.  The Veloster still looks like a concept car.
Depending on which color you want on the inside determines which color you get on the outside.  The black interior comes with seven exterior color options.  The gray interior comes with five options and the red/black interior comes with only three choices.
                The shape of the Veloster is interesting.  It has the sweeping curves that the industry applies to almost all concept vehicles, but also has the sharp angles of modern design.  The fender flares over the wheels look fantastic. This car looks like it was designed in the wind tunnel and then they just ran out of money, so this is what we got.  On the front end just below the headlamps there’s an indention that looks like it would just trap air.  It’s a pretty significant space.  Think about someone accidentally stumbling on the Grand Canyon.    
                From the left side of the car, the Veloster is a two door coupe.  From the right side, it’s a four door sedan.  It only has three doors for those of you struggling with the Math.  This is another design feature that makes the Veloster feel rushed or underfunded.  If they were worried that a Coupe would only sell to single adults or couples without kids, adding a third door only adds couples with one or less kids.  The three door design does give the Veloster something that other sporty coupes don’t have and in the long run doesn’t cost Hyundai very much to produce. 
The reflection of the plastic on the interior of the doors makes the side mirrors look like they’re coated in carbon fiber.  It made me laugh pretty hard a couple of times.

The rear glass is yet another example of style over function.  I can’t stand the trend of splitting hatchback rear windows.  The only one that you look out of in the Veloster is the lower one.  The upper one does nothing to improve visibility out the back.  As far as I can tell it’s there to help you destroy any below average height vampires you might have captured in the backseat.  It just lets in more light and the rear seat isn’t very big, for those of you who didn’t get the last analogy. 
                There is a panoramic sunroof.  For $2,000 you can add the Style package which includes the sunroof.  It is really large and doesn’t encroach on the head room.  Between the sunroof and the rear glass, the Veloster is a rolling green house or a modern Euro-building; glass everywhere.
               
                The interior was really nice for a fuel efficient coupe-sedan.  What do you call a 3-door car?  Clown car?  That’s what we’re going with!  The inside of this clown car is comfortable, roomy in the front, and has the right amount of technology. 
The 7 in. multimedia display is a touch screen and has a number of features from GPS to the ability to stream Pandora with you Bluetooth-enabled device. 
The sound system was impressive, or really just the graphic that allowed me to move the focal point of the sound around the car.  You can focus it on each individual passenger seat.  Picture that annoying friend who can’t stop talking.  I know, that’s me, for a lot of you…  But when they won’t stop, you just direct all of the sound system to their seat effectively canceling out their noise.  It’s just a thought…  My suggestion for the sound system would be the Attack the Block soundtrack, bass beats, electronic everything else; it really fits this car.  If you haven’t seen Attack the Block, you are missing out.  British teenagers repelling alien invaders, what could be better? 
I had plenty of room as the driver.  In this vehicle there are not many people over 5’2” that are going to want to sit behind me.  The front two seats are roomy and can access the technology of the touch screen.  The backseat is a squeeze and doomed to the fate of relying on the front two to choose the music and temp.  For more backseat jokes, click here.

                I don’t think anyone is going to buy a Veloster based on the driving experience alone.  Hyundai has figured out how to get 138 horsepower out of a 1.6L four cylinder engine though.  Other comparable 1.6L engines are only turning out 110 or so…  That’s a pretty significant difference.  Hyundai is also claiming that the Veloster can achieve 40 mpg on the highway.  I didn’t have mine long enough to really put this to the test.  Based on changing interstates and having to slow down and speed up, I didn’t get to 40.  I was in the mid-30’s though.
                The city mpg number is 29.  Pretty much you’re going to be somewhere around 30 no matter where you are driving.  The thirty extra horsepower won’t hurt anything either.
The Veloster isn’t slow and it looks fast, which is a great combination.  The overall price is closer to economy car then sports car.  It is a very reasonable price as long as you don’t want four doors.  I’ve already thought about making a kid climb through the rear hatch as the fourth door; it could work. 
The Veloster is headed for a niche market.  One that I hope hangs around mainly because this car entertained me.  I wasn’t bored with it.  There are always something to do, whether I was laughing at it or fiddling with all the tech on the touch screen.  Definitely give this one a look, if you are looking for a conversation starter.

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