The 2012 Hyundai Veloster Coupe Review
Full Review by Andy: Hyundai’s Platypus
The platypus was spotted by European explorers in 1797 near Sydney, Australia. Most experts thought it was a joke; some believed it was a fraud. Even after its confirmed existence in the early 1800s, naturalists debated about whether it actually laid eggs or had venomous spurs on its hind legs. Today, we know that the platypus, alias Ornithorhynchus anatinus, is a duck-billed beaver-tailed mammal whose claim to fame is being odd. And everyone loves it.
The all-new Hyundai Veloster is a four-wheeled platypus. Like its furry semi-aquatic brother, it’s odd, bizarre and beautiful, and how can you not love it?
Describing the Mona Lisa is an exercise in boredom. “It’s a woman in front of a bunch of foggy trees with a small smile on her face.” But the actual image, in person, is haunting and memorable. So it is with the Hyundai Veloster. How can a simple description do justice to the Veloster’s truly one-of-a-kind looks? With one door on the driver’s side and two doors on the passenger’s side, the coupe-ish hatchback is more asymmetrical than Jared Leto’s haircuts. An enormous pillar-less window wraps around the front, while the rear looks like, well – okay, I give up. Go see it for yourself. Click on the gallery to see more images of the Veloster.
On an artistic level, the focal point of the Veloster’s interior is where it should be: the shift lever. The metallic-trimmed control cluster flares out from the center console like a giant peace sign, while the dash sprouts from the center like the extended wings of a falcon. The deep-set tachometer and speedometer sit side-by-side nested in tapered ellipses. The aesthetic is very intricate without being hectic and is tailored to the Millennial Tech Generation.
Packin’ a Powertrain
The Hyundai Veloster three-door coupe nabs its velocity from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of twist, some of the highest figures in its sub-class. A six-speed manual transmission is standard while a six-speed DCT automatic with hill start assist is optional. With the manual gearbox, the Veloster joins the 40 mpg club; the EcoShift automated DCT drops highway fuel economy to 38 mpg.
Despite its exotic looks, the Veloster is not a “hot hatch.” It is a not-so-lean green machine, prioritizing fuel efficiency and ride comfort over fun. The 138 horses may look good on paper, but they have difficulty sending the 2,600-lb Veloster any place fast, and the engine is nigh worthless below 4,000 rpm. The Veloster takes over eight seconds to lope to 60 mph, only slightly better than the median time in its class. Though its disc brakes are strong and its stance solid, the Veloster lacks the cornering limits, steering accuracy and overall energy of rally rivals like the Mini Cooper or Mazda3. However, it is peppier than its Honda CR-Z rival.
The 2012 Hyundai Veloster comes with class-competitive safety features, including ABS disc brakes with BA and EBD, stability and traction control, daytime running lights, and BlueLink emergency telematics system.
Comfort & Cargo
The body of the platypus presents several unique advantages. It uses electrolocation to find its prey, and can use its tail to store fat, similar to a camel’s hump. The body of the four-seater Veloster also has several benefits. Driver and front-passenger get spacious accommodations on all sides, but taller rear-seat passengers may be cleaning the headliner with their hair. The asymmetrical trio of doors allows for easy ingress and egress of people and payload, while the 15.5-cf boot is larger than most of the trunks of many midsize sedans. With the split-folding rear seat, cargo capacity expands to 34.7 cubic feet. That’s good, but considerably less than the King of Versatility, the Honda Fit.
A seven-inch touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, six-speaker audio system with satellite radio, universal audio interface, photo/video playback capability, eco-minded coaching games, Pandora connectivity – get the hint? Hyundai aimed its Veloster straight at the Tech Generation. The little ‘Loster is one of the best-equipped compacts in the class, and even has ergonomic accoutrements like heated exterior mirrors, a cargo cover, and other basic amenities. However, the Hyundai does not offer the extensive customizations and options of rivals like the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper.
Unfortunately, it is illegal to have a platypus as a pet in the United States (the male’s venomous hind spurs might have something to do with that). Fortunately, no such regulation applies to the 2012 Hyundai Veloster. Buy it, drive it, love it.
Engine: 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder
Horsepower & Torque: 138 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 123 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual, six-speed dual-clutch automated manual
Fuel Economy: 28/40/32 mpg
Base MSRP: $17,300
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