Thursday, October 27, 2016

Auto review: 2016 Hyundai Veloster still turns young eyes

For 2016 the Hyundai Veloster is a nicely done car, specifically for twentysomethings, although it may be more of an attitude thing than an age thing.
This is the Hyundai product that you have to love or hate. It is much like the Kia Soul in that regard, and is also aimed at the same age group as the Soul. Because they are made by the same company, they aren’t supposed to, and don’t, compete with each other. One cannot imagine a potential buyer for the Veloster to even glance sideways at the Soul, unless there was a pretty girl driving it.
The car I tested was a black-on-black 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo. Its MSRP was $24,920.00 while the base Veloster starts at $18,835. There a fair old bit of fun in those prices.

It was designed to push at least some limits. It has three doors, for instance. My seven-year-old grandson was confused, and questioned the purpose and value of only having a back-seat door on one side. Nor that they would frequently transport seven-year-olds.
But it still raises the question of why would someone want a car that was a coupe on one side and a sedan on the other? My guess is very few buyers. Hyundai was simply intrigued by the designer’s idea and incorporated it into a car that was clearly designed to be “outside of the box.”
For 2016, all Veloster models offer a revised hood appearance without vent accents, a dark gray grille surround, 10-mm-wider tires fitted to all 18-in. wheels, and the non-turbo Veloster gets a new 17-in. wheels. The Turbo model gets new machined-finish wheels, a sportier seat design including black seats with yellow accents. The instrument panel have fancier electroluminescent gauges and black headliner. design.
It’s looks are also a change from the standard look for small Asian cars. It’s hunched rear shoulders and angular aggressive front end bring serious macho to the compact segment. This is something a bit different here in the North American market where compacts are supposed to be cute and non-threatening.
So far it seems to have found a niche in the market, and Hyundai is proud of its sales. While its looks are edgy, the mechanical part of the Veloster is fairly straightforward.
The engine is a 1.6-liter turbocharged direct gasoline-injection four-cylinder. It pushes 201 hp. and 195 lb.-ft. of peak torque to the front wheels, using regular fuel. The engine breathes freely and sounds good all the way up the power band. That’s thanks to the turbo Veloster’s Active Sound Design, improving the intake and exhaust powertrain sound character inside the cabin.

The car comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission or new-for-2016 optional seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic. Both of them were developed in-house by Hyundai. Mileage for the two transmission are 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway for the manual and 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway for the automatic.
It does take a bit of getting used to waiting for the turbo to spool up. The steering uses electric power steering, so the road feel is good. The steering does a good job of staying on-center, a sometimes difficult thing in a front-wheel drive car.
The suspension is decent, but not really sporty. It’s a McPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and gas shock absorbers. In back there is a light-weight V-torsion beam, with an integrated 24-mm stabilizer bar and monotube shock absorbers. Tuning is more “Euro” on the Turbo.
All Turbo models get torque vectoring, which adds to the driving assist provided by the electronic stability control and powertrain control systems You can drive this car fast in the twisty bits safely. It responds well, and consistently to input. On the model I tested the wheels and tires were a good combination. They gripped nicely but didn’t feel the need to transmit the road’s every bump and bounce into the cabin.
In addition to every Veloster getting a rearview camera there are plenty of standard safety features including vehicle stability management and smart anti-lock brakes.
While small, the Veloster’s cabin is more than enough room for comfort in the front seats, and even the rear seats were livable. There is, for instance, plenty of shoulder room, something that can be an issue in a compact car.
The instrument panel is easy to use and well laid out. I can’t say I liked the center console layout, although probably another week in the car would solve my ergonomic problems. Some things just seemed to be hard for me to find. I also wanted a bigger touchscreen. The standard 450-watt Dimension Premium Audio system uses eight speakers, including an eight-inch subwoofer, external amplifier and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks.
I do like the Veloster’s design. It’s difficult to remember it’s been on the market awhile. The interior is still edgy enough to fit the kind of buyer Hyundai is looking for. That buyer, by the way, is the aforementioned twentysomething who has a good enough job to already be thinking of buying a new car. One presumes they aren’t living in their mother’s basement, as well.
Hyundai wants to get these people into the “family” of Hyundai buyers so they will work their way up the model lineup as they age and increase in prosperity.
The brand now has a model for each stage of their life, and with the coming of the Genesis luxury brand (think Lexus/Toyota or Acura/Honda) Hyundai would be quite happy for that allegiance to last a lifetime.

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