The Hyundai Veloster is all-new for 2019 with an updated design and two engines options. Those looking for a hot hatchback at a price that won’t break their budget will find that and more in the quirky, little Veloster.
Up front, there’s a new grille that gives it a more aggressive look than the outgoing model. Coupled with a lower roofline, the Veloster looks very coupe-like and decidedly sporty, especially if you go with some of the more vibrant paint options.
The side doors make the Veloster’s design different from the rest of the hatchback pack. On the driver’s side, you get one door, so you need to move the driver’s seat forward if anyone wants to hop in back. On the passenger side, you get two doors for easy rear-seat access.
At first glance, most people might not even realize there is a second passenger-side door. Hyundai placed the handle up high and sideways rather than below the window lengthwise. It’s a fun little detail that adds to the Veloster’s charm, and at the same time, it makes rear-seat access easier.
Inside, the Veloster feels every bit the hot hatch with supportive front seats and stiff bolsters to keep everyone snugly in place on the corners. Despite the bolsters, the seats aren’t narrow, so even larger adults won’t find them tight.
The rear seats, however, aren’t exactly spacious. There’s room for only two rear passengers, which allows for plenty of shoulder room. Legroom, on the other hand, is at a premium, especially with the front seats pushed back. Headroom will likewise pose a problem for taller adults. It works for short rides, but not so much for a road trip.
There are five trims available starting with the 2.0 Base at $18,500. It features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque and a six-speed manual transmission with the option for a six-speed automatic. Our test Veloster was the R-Spec Turbo, which sits in the middle of the trim range at $22,900.
This is a sportier version of what’s already a sporty car. It gets a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque paired only to a six-speed manual transmission. Fear not if you can’t drive a manual and don’t want to learn. There’s a six-speed automatic on both the Turbo and Turbo Ultimate trims.
While manuals are fast disappearing from the automotive landscape, on the right car, they’re a heck of a lot of fun. The Veloster is the right car. The clutch is light and forgiving, which makes rush hour traffic less of a chore, and the B&M Racing sport shifter is fantastic. It takes no effort to snap through the gears.
We happened to get caught out on the highway in the middle of a heavy rainstorm during rush hour, and the little Veloster didn’t skip a beat. It’s sure-footed and confident even in truly terrible road conditions. Once winter comes, its low ride height will likely pose a challenge when the snow gets deep, but this isn’t the kind of car you need to store in your garage the minute the snow flies.
A hot hatch is all about enjoying the ride. Sure, there’s the versatility of a hatchback for loading cargo, too, but that’s not the priority with a car like the Veloster. This car is all about driving. It handles beautifully on tight corners and slides in and out of rush hour traffic easily.
It’s a more visceral experience than, say, the average sedan. The Veloster doesn’t aim to create a cocoon that separates you from the road and the car. You hear the Veloster’s engine and get feedback from the road, so you’re more connected to the driving experience.
While it keeps you connected, it also manages to avoid being loud and obnoxious, which is a line often crossed in sporty hatchbacks. Instead, the Veloster provides a nice balance between sportiness and comfort.
The 2019 Hyundai Veloster provides the perfect hot hatchback experience with a comfortable interior, unique exterior design, and solid driving dynamics. Priced from $18,500 to $28,150, the Veloster is now available at dealerships.