It’s been two years since we’ve driven the then-new Hyundai Veloster N. I praised the driving dynamics and larger-than-life personality of the 3-door hatch. But it was for manual transmission enthusiasts only until rumors started circulating that a dual-clutch version was in the works. And that rumor brought me back to the 2017 Hyundai Elantra launch in California. The engineers were discussing the DCT developed for the Elantra Eco when I inquired about the performance potential of a DCT. They had smiled and said they don’t discuss future product plans…bingo. So here we are, the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N. For this year, the Performance Package is now standard equipment, the N Light Sport Seats are standard, and there’s an optional 8-speed dual clutch. We couldn’t wait to get our hands on one. And since everyone got behind the wheel of the N for at least a day each, we’ve compiled our first ever LSB Crew Review.
Hyundai packs a lot of fun per dollar into the relatively-affordable Veloster N. From the moment you press the start button and hear the playful growl of the boosted 4 cylinder, you’ll know your not in your average econobox. The steering is surprisingly heavy yet very direct. It’s never twitchy but you do need to pay attention to your inputs as the car will react to wherever you position it. The engine is a bit laggy, but once boost has built acceleration is quite impressive and entertaining. As long as you are not in the suspension’s most aggressive mode (N), the ride is firm and borders on harsh, but is livable even on an hour-plus roadtrip. The interior is loaded to the brim with hard plastics, but this isn’t intended to be a luxury car. The constant road and tire and wind noise also remind you that this isn’t a luxury hot hatch, but that’s part of the allure: the road textures speak to you, and the car feels very alive. The Veloster N may not be the most refined hot hatch on the market, but it certainly is one of the most fun.
Strap in to the new for 2021 sport bucket seats and you automatically know you’re in for a bit of a serious ride with this Veloster. I’ve driven the Veloster Turbo previously, but this is a completely different animal; Hyundai cranked the dial to 11 and kept going. We’ve sampled even the Veloster N before, but the DCT is new this year this allowing us some more raucous fun. The steering is direct, the front end just grips, and there is no perception of torque steer with the excellent differential fitted up front. The ride is just as punishing as before, and the exhaust is just as crazy-loud. Pops and bangs are even easier to come by with the quick downshifts, and smooth upshifts. Hyundai’s first performance application of the DCT is impressive, and now it’ll be available on the newly announced Elantra N and Kona N. All-in-all, give me this rip-roaring good time, just in the Kona package and pray that it’s just 10% softer riding.
The Veloster N is not the Hyundai you want to sit shotgun in. Without sitting at the helm, you’re either noticing the Veloster’s humble budget-car roots throughout the cabin or wishing for a few extra pounds of sound deadening. But as soon as you get in the driver’s seat, none of that matters. With a press of the N Mode drive selector, this little bulldog of a car starts to pull at its leash. While the manual version does reward with added driver engagement, this DCT lets the engine shine through. Plus the added NGS button on the steering wheel, which Hyundai calls N Grin Shift, is basically an overboost feature. 20 seconds of extra torque is never a bad thing! And why does everyone hate on the three-door aspect. Its quirky, sure. But it doesn’t hamper the car in any way. It even has its uses!
|2021 Hyundai Veloster N||$32,250|
|2.0L Turbo GDI 4-cyl N 8-Speed Wet Dual Clutch Transmission||$1,500|