THE 2017 Hyundai Veloster is a mix of sportiness and practicality. But yet, somehow, it manages to be its own thing.
On the outside, the Veloster is able to pull off the unusual paradox of being non-descript and eye-catching. At first, its sloping roofline says coupe; however, the rapid transition to the trunk screams hatchback, which it is. Then comes the next step that would have everyone doing a double take.
Hatchbacks are traditionally classified as either three door (passenger, driver side and trunk) or 5 door — passenger, driver side, two matching rears, and trunk. Yet, the Hyundai bucks the standard vehicular symmetrical design trend for what is ultimately the Veloster’s ‘killer app’. It’s a four-door hatchback.
How is that possible? Instead of two rear doors, it only has one, on the passenger side. In the real world, this sends onlookers scrambling back and forth between the opposite sides of the vehicle as their brain tries to comprehend the situation. Regardless of the initial shock, the outcome is always the same — it works. Having the extra rear door doesn’t impact on the Veloster’s overall looks.
The extra, or having a missing rear door — depending on your point of view — isn’t just for looks. It’s a matter of practicality and addresses a problem many find in a performance hatchback, having to move the driver’s seat to let out rear passengers. The Veloster’s design now means drivers can happily stay seated in their favourite position while anyone seated behind them has an exit. Add to this, the easily accessible hatch and split folding rear seats that reveal plenty of cargo space and all the main practicality boxes are ticked.
You’ll want to stay seated in the Veloster as long as possible. It’s best described as a comfortable, well-equipped, junior sports car. The interior isn’t as unique as its exterior, but it’s up the current Hyundai standards, with plenty of soft-touch materials and a few cool metal accents to remind everyone this is a sports car, as do the large bright gauges. The only thing brighter in the cabin is the 7-inch screen for the info-tainment system, which is able to connect to your device of choice, via Bluetooth or USB cable, and provides the output for the rear parking camera.
Once on the road, the focus does turn to the driving experience. First, with the 1.6-litre motor only giving 130bhp it isn’t going to set the world on fire, especially when compared many of its rivals. Still, it’s more than enough to get the blood pumping on a good road without the fear, making it perfect for those just starting out at performance driving. Both reasons solidify its junior sports car tag. The six-speed automatic is just fine when left to its own devices, but transforms the driving experience when in manual mode, where it’s more responsive and easier to keep the rev-happy motor on the boil.
The horsepower matches the chassis perfectly as the car never feels like it will overpower itself. Riding on a meaty 18-inch wheel package, there is grip for days. The firm but compliant suspension aids cornering so much so that it takes significant effort to trigger the electronic nannies, such as the Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control and Brake Assist, which is a good thing, as not to detract from the driving experience.
The Hyundai Veloster is a rare breed. It’s an easy safe point to enter the sports car market for the average buyer, but retains enough equipment and practicality to be a daily driver. Combined with its asymmetric design, there isn’t an equivalent from another major manufacturer. In fact, the Veloster’s main issue may be itself as the turbocharged version will hit Hyundai’s local showroom later this year. The pull of 201bhp, an extra 71bhp over the standard model, might appeal to those with a bit more fuel in their blood.