The 2019 Hyundai Veloster marks the sports-oriented compact’s second-generation debut, and it remains a one-of-a-kind hatchback.
A sharper-edged new exterior design is immediately appealing. But the symmetrical configuration is still a signature feature, with one longer driver’s side door and two shorter front and rear passenger doors. The three-door scheme is not available on any other vehicle.
The three-door approach may seem awkward at first. The passenger side rear door rests high and the handle is positioned high and flush on the frame. It’s easy to miss. But the extra entry option means no difficulty for rear seat passengers to entry or exit. The one rear door is also convenient for non-human cargo.
Much else is also new for the Veloster, including a 2.0-liter inline-four base engine and a revised suspension for improved handling. All of the five versions now have forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, lane keeping assist and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The smartphone connectivity is the best in the segment.
Cruise control, Bluetooth and 7.0-inch touchscreen display are also standard. Additional safety features include six airbags, high-beam assist (with the optional LED headlights) and driver attention warning.
New optional features for 2019 on higher-priced trims include an Infinity eight-speaker audio system, wireless charging pad, automatic climate control and an eight-inch infotainment system.
The 1.6-liter, 201 horsepower turbo ultimate trim combines the features of other models and gives the Veloster a peppy personality with its seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and paddle shifters. The Veloster has three driving modes — Normal, Sport and Smart. The Sport mode is the most responsive and is absent of the turbo lag in the normal driving mode. The modes alter shift timing, throttle progression and steering heft.
Gas mileage averages are 28 miles per gallon in city driving, 34 miles per gallon on the freeway. Hyundai is among the few manufacturers with an industry-best 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Hyundai also approaches seating capacity honestly. Two seatbelts are available in the back seat. Many smaller vehicles are touted with seating for five and are equipped with three rear seatbelts based on minimal but unrealistic standards.
With its appreciable power for a lightweight car (it weighs less than 3,000 pounds), the Veloster scoots around town defining its fun-to-drive persona. Its sportiness is further enhanced with adept handling and cornering. The driver and car feel connected.
In fact, the overall Veloster experience is enjoyable despite its compact category. Seating is comfortable and supportive because of improved ergonomics. The instrument panel and other equipment are thoughtfully positioned. Cupholders, a 12-volt outlet and two USB plugs add to the strong mix of standard features.
The contrasting fit and finish interior color scheme is attractive, the hatchback opening is deep and rear seats fold down nearly flat.
The compact hatchback has a few warts. Seat adjustments are manual and rear visibility is sub-par with a small viewing area and obstruction via the hatchback lid. Hyundai also decided to infuse synthetic, amplified noise into the cabin of the Turbo model. Good thing it can be turned off; the natural sound of the engine is pleasing.
Quality compact hatchbacks are available throughout the industry, with strong offerings like the Honda Civic, Kia Forte5 and Mazda3. The Veloster more than holds its own and stands alone among the competition with its three-door appeal and sportiness.
With its out-the-door price of $29,160, the turbo trim is about $3,000 less than the average current price of a new vehicle in the United States. That qualifies the Veloster as a good value with some attitude as part of the deal.