By Antony Dickson
Ever since Hyundai’s Veloster debuted last year with its aggressive looks, it has created waves in the automotive industry. The Veloster is big on features but comes in a small package and that’s a segment with many takers these days. The Veloster was designed to appeal to people looking for a fuel-efficient compact sporty coupe and Hyundai is doing just that. It has caught the attention of young drivers and reportedly fast disappearing from dealerships around Toronto.
The 2012 Veloster hasn’t changed much since in appearance and is still a head turner. But it’s better now. It has a brand new engine under its hood for increased performance. Hyundai dropped an all-new 1.6 litre GDI ‘Gamma’ engine into the 2012 Veloster. It’s paired with six-speed manual transmission or Hyundai’s first six-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). The new 1.6 litre engine delivers a peak output of 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque. The 3-door coupe, as the manufacturers call it, comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, proximity keyless entry with push-button start, Gasoline Direct Injection fuel-saving technology, back-up camera and a 7-inch touch screen display as standard equipment.
Once you’re in the car, you sit low into the seats giving you a sports car feel. Access to controls on the touch screen display is easy. Once you push-start the START/STOP button, the new engine comes alive and thanks to the new EcoShift DCT, the result is a smooth drive. The Veloster’s EcoShift DCT can be thought of as two traditional manual transmissions, each with its own clutch, operating in parallel and alternating shifts. One clutch operates gears one, three, and five while the other is used for two, four, six, and reverse. This shifting process results in quick, smooth transitions without the efficiency loss associated with torque converters. Clutch actuation is accomplished by electric motors while an external damper improves noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH).
Though the engine delivers a sporty driving feel, you definitely crave for more power during overtaking manoeuvres. But you won’t have to wait too long for that. Hyundai has introduced the new 201-horsepower 2013 Veloster Turbo in a Canadian debut at the Montreal International Auto Show recently. The 2013 Veloster is set to hit the market in summer this year. As for this model, fuel efficiency figures were very impressive and stood at 6.5 L/100 km in combined city and highway driving.
Coming to ride comfort, the Veloster’s front suspension is a MacPherson strut design with coil springs, gas shock absorbers. The rear suspension’s integrated 23 mm stabilizer bar braces the torsion arms for greater stiffness and increased control over body roll. Ride comfort for driver and front passenger is relatively good. Though access to the rear seats is made easy with the almost invisible third door on the right side of the car, leg room is limited and would make a person of average height develop cramps.
In the safety department, the Veloster comes equipped with six airbags, disc brakes at all four wheels and Hyundai’s Vehicle Stability Management system. Braking aids include ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. All these come as standard equipment.
The Veloster boasts of several features not even seen in high-end vehicles. Keeping in mind the consumers’ desires in the digital age, the Veloster comes with standard multi-function seven-inch touch-screen display with voice recognition, virtual CD downloading, video playback and image display via USB. For people who love toys, the Veloster comes with video game console connectivity available with a 115-volt power outlet and ofcourse Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition. Other features include a back-up camera and proximity keyless entry with push-button start.
All these features would make you think that all this comes for a price. It does, but for a small one. The 2012 Veloster is priced between $18,999 and $23,899 depending on whether you opt for the Tech Package and/or manual transmission. A single, optional $3,500 Tech Package is available, upgrading the Veloster with 18-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, satellite navigation, premium 450-watt Dimension audio system with subwoofer, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, upgraded seat covers and armrest, high-gloss black interior accents, alloy pedals and automatic light control.
If you’re in the market for a car with a limited budget and needed a sporty head turner, the Veloster is something definitely worth considering. But I would recommend waiting till the Veloster Turbo arrives in summer.