Five years on from our first drive of the Hyundai Veloster Turbo and there’s an all-new second generation hitting the streets. We found ourselves fond of the snub-nose three-door hatchback, even if the chassis and driving dynamics left something to be desired. And to date, it’s been the only car we’ve tested with matte paint. So we were eager to get behind the wheel and see how far the Veloster has come.
Visually, the 2019 Veloster has lost a bit of its stubbiness thanks to the A-pillars and cowl being pushed further back. Bulging wheel arches are still a hallmark, but the new Veloster appears wider and more drawn out. The roof line is actually lower that before, but gets visually lower in a contrasting color and finished with a more pronounced spoiler. Hyundai’s new grille shape is accented with red trim just above the splitter and air curtains set wide beneath the LED headlights. The Veloster Turbo’s signature dual center exhausts and wide set rear haunches accented with reflectors return to round out the signature shape. We are taken by the new looks and glad to see Hyundai has retained the uniqueness that sets the Veloster apart.
The Veloster Turbo is now the middle child, slotted between the Veloster 2.0 and upcoming hot-hatch Veloster N model. A cursory glance at the spec sheet and the numbers haven’t changed much in 5 years. The 1.6T engine still produces 201hp and 195lb-ft torque, though an over-boost feature can briefly boost that number to 202. A six-speed manual is available, but our tester arrived with the 7-speed DCT. The Turbo gets a torque vectoring control front differential and a quicker-ratio steering rack with a revised calibration for improved dynamics and feel. We were even initially fooled by the Veloster’s throaty sound, coming to find out that the active sound is adjustable and was definitely contributing to our initial comments. Optional summer tires are available on the R-Spec trim, but the cold week of our test left us happy to have all-season tires fitted.
The Veloster’s new, stiffer chassis is much improved. With more high strength steel and structural adhesive, Hyundai’s engineers have created a better platform all around. The sport-tuned suspension is a bit stiff, but some of that can be attributed to our Ultimate tester’s 18″ wheels. In every situation, the Veloster now inspires confidence and allows you to push just that much harder. Hyundai’s new “Smart” drive mode setting does a fantastic job switching to “Sport” when the time is right. That change weights-up the steering, changes the transmission shift points, and sharpens throttle response. It’s a properly fun little hatchback to toss around. We were disappointed with the DCT’s responsiveness to manual shift commands from the wheel-mounted paddles, however. In my opinion, the 6-speed is still the way to go.
Hyundai’s interior designers have pulled a neat visual trick in the Turbo Ultimate. An asymmetric design visually separates the driver’s seat by using a contrasting black color to the dash panel. There’s a clear demarcation where the console transitions to the white used throughout the rest of the cabin. It’s subtle, yet it subconsciously makes the car feel a little bit special. Hyundai’s fantastic 8-inch touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto sits high on the dash. Just like in the Kona we recently tested, the screen remained too bright at night. Out Ultimate tester also included the Infinity 8-speaker audio system, a heads-up display, wireless charging, and safety features like lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring. There were a few demerits inside, however. The cold November mornings did elicit a few more rattles and squeaks than we’d like to hear in a brand new car. More importantly to us, however, is that I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable behind the wheel. Some combination of seat angle and steering wheel position left me feeling not-quite-there in terms of positioning. No amount of fiddling and readjusting could seem to set things right.
The all-new 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo is now as fun as it looks. It’s a solid platform that provides driving engagement and hatchback practicality. Nearly 20 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats is fantastic for its class. Optioned with the manual transmission and stickier tires, the R Spec is our recommended trim. But having driven the superb Elantra Sport and more practical and equally-engaging Elantra GT Sport, we’re not sure this Veloster Turbo separates itself enough from Hyundai’s other performance offerings. Sure it’s smaller and quirkier, but that doesn’t seem to be the market trend. Irregardless, we enjoyed this solid hatchback and can’t wait to climb into the hotted up Veloster N next year.
|2018 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Ultimate
|Carpeted Floor Mats||$125|
|As Tested MSRP||$29,160|