2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Introduction
In what has to be one of the most remarkable turnarounds in automotive history, Hyundai has virtually reinvented itself.
Back in 1985, Hyundai’s first car in the U.S — the Excel, attracted a lot of attention with its sub-$5000 base price and handsome Italian styling. Buyers responded enthusiastically, buying nearly 170,000 copies of the car in its first year on the market. Unfortunately, the one aspect of its name the Hyundai Excel lived up to was its ability to excel at being unreliable.
Perseverance is key to achieving success, and persevere Hyundai has. Over time, the company mastered reliability and quality, while still managing to keep its cars affordable. A few years ago the company went after the goal of adding style to its product portfolio as well and has been successful in that regard to.
It seems the company can do no wrong (well, aside from that whole 40 mpg thing).
From its newly realized position of strength, Hyundai is now feeling emboldened enough to go out on limbs and take a few chances. And thus, we have arrived at Hyundai’s Veloster, introduced in 2012 as an all-new Hyundai model.
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Models & Prices
There are two iterations of the car within the 2013 Hyundai Veloster lineup, Veloster and Veloster Turbo. Within the Veloster model range there are two variants; Veloster and Veloster RE:MIX
Veloster with the six-speed manual transmission starts at $17,450. Order one with Hyundai’s six-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch transmission and your pricing will start at $18,700. Veloster RE:MIX comes in at $20,050 with the manual transmission and $21,300 with the automatic.
To those prices, Hyundai adds a destination charge of $775.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to switch to your calculator app, we’ll do ciphering for you:
Manual: $18,225 with destination
Automatic: $19,475 with destination
Manual: $20,825 with destination
Automatic: $22,075 with destination
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Design
Without question, the single most intriguing aspect of the Hyundai Veloster is its styling. The car simply looks like nothing else out there — and in a good way. Those exaggerated wheel arches, the body-colored door handles and rear-view mirrors, the way the roof looks like a motorcycle helmet, the hunkered down profile; the Veloster is, quite literally, an attractive car.
People actually stop, stare, and openly ask questions about it.
Should you be so inclined, you can really freak people out by walking them around to the passenger side of the Hyundai and opening the third door. When you do so, be prepared to walk them back around to the driver’s side and show them the Veloster is not a four-door sedan, but rather a three door coupe.
Be apprised though, the first week or two you have your Veloster, it’ll be a lot of fun answering question about the distinctiveness of your new car. Somewhere around the middle of week three though, you’ll find yourself lingering in the restaurant just a bit longer when you look out of the window and see yet another person circling the Hyundai with the same questions you’ve been answering for the last three weeks swirling around in their heads.
The good news is you got a distinctive car and it draws a lot of admiration.
The bad news is your distinctive car draws a lot of admiration.
This is amplified a bit when you opt for the Veloster RE:MIX, looking every bit like the SEMA show car it started out as, the Veloster RE:MIX is fitted with an aerodynamic body kit and its own specific set of 18-inch alloy wheels.
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Comfort & Cargo
The motorcycle theme is carried over to the interior of the Hyundai too. The center stack is shaped to look like the gas tank on a sport bike, with the start/stop button at the bottom set up to resemble the gas cap. The grab handles on the doors mimic the skeletal structure of a sport bike’s frame and, if you look carefully at the way the dash flows, you’ll see the surrounds for the door handles mimic handle bar grips.
While not exactly spacious, the Veloster is roomier than its profile would suggest. Front seat passengers ride very comfortably with the rear seats empty. If they are shorter, or willing to give up some legroom, most people sitting behind them will find the back seat fairly comfortable in terms of legroom. Headroom, with that rearward sloping roof is another story though.
Do your six-foot friends a favor, ride them up front. Your five-foot friends will be all right in the back. If you’re a driver on the taller side, that third door will come in handy, as that’s the only side of the car anyone will really be able to occupy if you’re going to operate the Veloster comfortably.
The rear sets fold to extend the cargo area, and the rear hatch makes loading and unloading cargo pretty easy. Here again though, your capacity is mitigated somewhat by that stylishly sloping roof.
On the other hand, interior storage is plentiful — despite the somewhat shallow glove box. There’s a capacious center console, a storage bin behind the center stack, and door panel pockets for receipts and maps (hmm…does anybody even use those anymore?).
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Features & Controls
Aside from its looks, the Hyundai Veloster also really stands out because of the content its product planners have stuffed into the car — particularly when you consider its price.
The seven-inch monitor in the center stack hosts Pandora Internet radio, and Gracenote is there to help manage your music collection. The monitor will also display the output of a video game console — which can be powered by the optional 115-volt power outlet in the Veloster. Bluetooth is standard equipment, as is voice recognition technology.
Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system is standard equipment too, providing text messaging and turn-by-turn navigation, in addition to point of interest searches—all by voice. Its Geo Fence feature enables the owner to establish boundaries within which the car can travel. If the Veloster is taken outside of the boundary area, the owner of the Hyundai gets a text message. Blue Link will also help recover the vehicle if it is ever stolen. And yes, if you lock yourself out, Blue Link can help you get back in.
The Veloster’s optional Style Package ($2,000) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille surround with Piano black highlights, front fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, Piano black interior accents, a Dimension premium audio system with eight speakers, leatherette accents for the seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, alloy pedals, and an auto up feature for the driver’s window.
The Hyundai’s optional Tech package ($2,000 and must be ordered with the Style Package) adds a different set of 18-inch wheels with color inserts, backup sensors, navigation, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, and keyless entry and start.
Standard features for the RE;MIX model include the foglights, projection headlights with LED running lights, LED taillights, keyless ignition/entry, the Dimension sound system, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, LED cabin lighting and monogrammed floor mats.
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Safety & Ratings
Traction and stability control, antilock brakes, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags are standard fare on every Veloster. Another plus of Hyundai’s standard Blue Link service is the safety component it brings; remote door unlock, on-demand roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, vehicle alarm notification, and automatic crash notification are all bundled within the Blue Link suite of services.
Neither NHTS nor the IIHS has crash tested the 2013 Hyundai Veloster, but given the car is closely related to the Elantra—which has been crash tested—we’re comfortable saying the Veloster’s crashworthiness is good.
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
The front-wheel drive 2013 Hyundai Veloster’s 1.6-liter direct injected engine is a paragon of efficiency over performance.
The engine produces 138 horsepower, 132 ft-lbs of torque, 27 miles per gallon in the city, 37 miles per gallon on the highway, and 31 combined. However to achieve those numbers you have to get Hyundai’s proprietary six-speed manual transmission.
Order your Veloster with the optional dual-clutch automatic transmission and your engine will generate 132 horsepower and 120 ft-lbs of torque. Estimated fuel economy for this configuration is 28 mpg in the city, 37 on the highway and 31 combined.
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Driving Impressions
The engine winds freely, though with only 132 ft-lbs of torque on tap, you do have to be deft with the co-ordination of the gas pedal and clutch pedal to set the car into motion. It can be done smoothly, but you have to manage your torque carefully. The dual clutch automatic, while robbing the Veloster of some 12 ft-lbs of torque, shifts smoothly, gives you the option of shifting yourself, and is just generally some neat tech to have on the car.
The Hyundai’s electric power steering is responsive, but like so many electric systems, the tactile response is a bit muted. Still, if you pay attention, it keeps you informed. Body roll is discernable in corners, though minimal. It is possible to eke some fun out of the Veloster on a sports car road, but you’ll work the living crap out of the engine to maintain an elevated pace.
Long story short, if you approach this car looking for some seriously sporty dynamics, you’re going to be disappointed. The Veloster does not go anywhere near the way its looks would lead you to believe it should. Like the Hyundai Excel of yore, the model really does not live up to its name in this regard. Being neither a roadster, nor possessing significant velocity (velocity + roadster = Veloster) the Hyundai is more of an exercise in styling than anything else.
Exacerbating this are the high levels of road noise transmitted into the cabin, much of which can be traced to the sporty-looking low-profile tires and 18-inch wheels. In other words you get the look and the noise, but not so much the performance. Amplifying this is the compromised ride such a setup incurs. With less sidewall between you and the street, more of the impact harshness is conveyed to your backside.
If you really like the way the Hyundai looks and you want more power, you can opt for the Turbo, but there again, for what it is, it isn’t genuinely competitive with other cars in its price class in terms of performance.
With that said however, the Veloster’s combination of strong creature comforts and good fuel economy make long distance travel a reasonable proposition. There’s plenty there to keep you entertained and once you get the Veloster up to highway speeds, it has no trouble maintaining them. Plus, you’ll average close to 40 miles per gallon. If you have a long highway commute, this could well be the car you’ve been looking for. Just be aware high levels of road noise can be a bit debilitating.
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Final Thoughts
With Veloster, Hyundai is once again demonstrating it is possible to deliver style on a budget. With its combination of good looks, a strong feature set, and a comfortable and ergonomically correct interior, the Veloster, in many ways, sets new standards in its price class.
If you’re looking for an economical car and the idea of a Corolla, a Sentra, or a Civic is just too pedestrian for you, the Veloster may well be what you’ve been looking for. Or, if you’re a well-to-do parent looking to put your high school graduate in a new car with a lot of style, a very strong feature set and a 10-year/100,000 mile warranty Veloster fills the bill. Also, you won’t to have to worry about extremely high insurance premiums and speeding tickets.
From our admittedly performance-oriented perch when it comes to cars of this nature, we have yet to quite figure out what the product planners at Hyundai were thinking when they came up with the Veloster. Please understand, there are many qualities about the car we appreciate. Thing is, a number of the qualities of the 2013 Hyundai Veloster leave us scratching our heads too.
Is the Hyundai doing exactly what they intended it to do, or is the Veloster a missed opportunity? When all is said and done, the ultimate answer to that question must come from you.
2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test and Review: Pros & Cons
• Strong fuel economy
• State of the art tech features
• Distinctive style
• Excellent value for the price
• Admiration of onlookers
• Underpowered engines
• Noise and harshness levels on the high side
• Admiration of onlookers