Auto Review: The Coupe with something extra

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured article - posted Fri., Mar. 9, 2012
- Contributed Photo

When a company comes out with an all-new model, you never know how much latitude they’ll give the designers to introduce new features. There are many different things to consider, including everything from the public’s tolerance of change to the cost of production and new tooling. But taking a few risks is how great new things get introduced, and ultimately the new ideas may be good enough to become a regular feature (and even get adopted by the competition, as well). With Hyundai’s new Veloster coupe, the company has introduced a very innovative “third” door behind the passenger door (unique in that it opens like a regular rear door) that is so smoothly integrated into the styling I didn’t even notice it initially. But it greatly increases the car’s rear-seat access and versatility, and (even better) it’s not the only thing about this affordable, dynamic car that makes it appealing.

The innovative engineering of the front-drive Veloster is everywhere, and we’ll start under the hood with Hyundai’s all-new Gamma 1.6-liter Inline Four. It has Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and Dual Continuously-Variable Valve timing; both of which help contribute to excellent fuel economy and 138 horsepower. There are two transmission choices, including the six-speed manual on our tester and an Ecoshift Dual Clutch six-speed automatic gearbox. The Gamma engine has a silky-smooth idle and revs willingly to its 6,300 RPM power peak. While no dragster, the Veloster moves out nicely and the six-speed manual is pretty ideal, both in terms of ratios and shifter action. The steering is super-responsive, making lightning-quick changes in direction a breeze, but it does transmit some bump-steer to the driver, as well. The suspension is also a bit on the stiff side, although the upside is great handling, especially through bumpy corners. Braking performance was also impressive, with average stops from 60 mph arriving in just 114 feet.

Inside, the Veloster continues with Hyundai’s recent tradition of intelligent interior design, including both quality materials and sound workmanship. The optional Style Package includes leatherette seat inserts, and the driver’s perch is especially comfortable and supportive. Controls are logically arranged and easy to master; something Hyundai is getting quite good at. Also included in the Style Package is a Dimension sound system with Blue Link Telemetrics hardware, which has the latest in Bluetooth connectivity (and has Pandora internet radio integration, as well). As mentioned before, the additional door on the passenger side aids access to the rear seats where comfort is good, save for limited headroom. The seatbacks fold forward to increase the cargo area in the rear hatch region, which is surprisingly deep and roomy.

Fun to drive, attractive and very innovative, the new Veloster is a welcome addition to class of coupes that deliver a lot for the money (including great fuel economy). The 2012 Hyundai Veloster M/T is EPA-rated 28 MPG city/40 highway and had a base price of $17,300. With options, our MSRP came to $21,300.

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