Hyundai’s take on the 2020 Veloster is that it’s “Sports coupe-cool for the 2020s”. It does look cool, with its 2+1 door arrangement. That’s not something anyone else does, and it does make it stand apart from the rest.

The new model has been redesigned inside and out, with upgraded drivetrains, multi-link rear suspension, Torque Vectoring Control, and increased standard specs.

But still – is it Sports coupe-cool? We’ll have to see how a two-week test of the car goes to decide if that’s a claim to be taken with a grain of salt, or if it’s right on the money.

The Range

There’s just two models in the Veloster range, and being a Hyundai, it’s got the typical naming convention; the $45,990 Elite, and then the top-spec $52,990 Limited.

The Elite model is fitted with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine which has a 110kW and 180Nm power and torque outputs. If you up-spec the Limited, capacity is down to 1.6 litres, but a turbo is added to bump up power and torque to 150kW and 265Nm. The Elite has a 6-speed automatic, while the Limited goes to a 7-speed dual clutch (DCT) automatic transmission.

Hyundai’s SmartSense suite is standard in every new Veloster, and incorporates Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) systems.

Looking at the specs of each model, the Limited certainly misses out on a lot of nice kit. The turbo model gets an 8” central display (instead of 7”), an electric driver’s seat, 18” alloys, Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, LED headlights and taillights, Qi wireless phone charging, SatNav, Infinity Premium audio and DAB+ digital radio, a 4.2” colour central driver’s display, full leather interior with red accents, a heads-up display, heated/ventilated front seats, and an electric sunroof.

Still, the standard specs don’t seem too bad on the whole. There’s the SmartSense safety suite, keyless entry and start, 17” alloys, a 3.5” mono central driver’s display, a central dual exhaust outlet, and partial leather seats. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are also standard, along with LED DRLs, rear sonar, dynamic guidelines for the reversing camera, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Auto Link Premium is compatible on every Veloster for $299 (incl gst). Hyundai Auto Link is a smartphone app that allows the customer to stay connected to their car. It works by using a pre-installed module that connects the car’s computer to the customer’s mobile phone. Partnering with Spark New Zealand, the SIM CARD based Auto Link Premium brings a host of conveniences and comfort remote control features, including but not limited to:

  • Remote Engine Start and Stop
  • Remote Door Lock & Unlock
  • Hazard & Horn Control
  • Air-conditioning Temperature Control – temperature will be set when the engine starts
  • On/Off (Front / Rear) Defroster – defroster status will be set when the engine starts
  • Vehicle Status & Guard Mode
  • Vehicle Service History Information 
  • Vehicle Warranty History information
  • Driving History
  • Geo-Fencing
  • Vehicle Recall & Service Action Notification & Information
  • Service Plan Information
  • Routine Service Booking with cost estimate

There’s all new colours available too, including:

  • Red Ignite Flame (Solid)
  • Yellow Thunderbolt (Solid)
  • Chalk White (Metallic)
  • Dark Knight (Mica)
  • Tangerine Comet (Mica)
  • Phantom Black (Mica)
  • Cobalt Eclipse (Mica)
  • Space Gray (Metallic)
  • Lake Silver (Metallic/Mica)
  • Shooting Star (Matte)

A Phantom Black two-tone roof is offered as a $790 option for Veloster Turbo Limited with Chalk White, Lake Silver, Dark Knight, Space Gray, Thunderbolt, Tangerine Comet, Cobalt Eclipse and Ignite Flame exterior colours.

You can read more about the Veloster on Hyundai New Zealand’s website.

First Impressions

I’d find it hard to say it doesn’t look good. And with one door on the driver’s side and two on the passenger’s side, it doesn’t really matter what angle you look from, it’s a sexy little coupe, especially in black. The front now has Hyundai’s cascading grille, a steeper roofline, increased bonnet length, and sculptured wheel arches.

One night I went to pick someone up, along with another passenger (not Ubering, I promise), and it was dark. The first passenger opened the front passenger’s door, then tried to get into the back seat by flicking the seat forward. That wasn’t going to work, and at that point I had to tell them there was a rear door. You simply can’t see it, and that hidden handle high up helps make it look like a coupe on the left side of the car as well. Visually, it’s well executed, this 2+1 design.

The rear is a visual feast in my eyes, and I’m sold on that single central exhaust. My God, it looks great.

Front on, it’s got the standard Hyundai family look. Certainly not bad, but not as in your face as the sporty rear.

The Interior

The interior is a lot less sexy than the outside. I think this is a time when I wished we had the top-spec Limited model. The Elite doesn’t look bad inside, but it does look very basic.

There’s cloth seats, a manual handbrake, and a semi tacked-on central display screen. The doors are mostly hard plastics, albeit with a few different textures to break it up. The whole centre console is flat, hard plastic, and feels cheap.

But there is some red stitching on the seats to break all the black up, and a racy red line on the steering wheel and gear shift lever to add to the sports-coupe touch. There’s a checkered flag pattern on the dash, but it’s fairly subdued, and the face of the gauges also have the same subtle checkered pattern.

Things in the rear are pretty tight, with not too much head room. Rear headroom has increased by 15mm, front shoulder room is up 11mm and rear shoulder room up 9mm, but still – she’s snug back there, and adding to the snug feeling is that sloping roofline, and the tiny rear windows. Those with children prone to car sickness might not enjoy this car on a long trip.

The Veloster is only a 4-seater, with a couple of cup holders between the rear seats. Something to keep in mind if this is a car you are considering.

A problem with the previous Veloster was the high loading lip of the boot, and that’s improved a little. The opening is not the widest either, but there’s a fair amount of space in there, with a usable deepness to the boot, which is said to be 303 litres with the rear seats up. Seats-down space is a very good 1081 litres. That’s not too shabby for a car this size.

The Drive

For me, the Veloster was a surprise. I was expecting it to be all show, and not much go. This is the base model after all, with a nothing-fancy 2.0-litre, four-cylinder naturally aspirated motor. But stick the Veloster in Sport mode, and it fair picks itself up and goes. I wouldn’t say it’s a pocket rocket, but it does perform well in Sport mode at least.

It’s a smooth power plant too, you can barely feel it idling, and then wind it out past 4,500rpm and there’s almost a little growly noise. It stays smooth right up to the 6,500rpm redline, too. Torquey is not a word you’d likely use with this model of Veloster, with 180Nm of torque, but it still does better than you’d expect it to.

The transmission helps with the smoothness. It’s a straight torque-convertor automatic, so no fancy DCT. But that does mean smooth changes at all revs, and it comes into its own at low speeds, where a DCT would be jerky. That’s not to say the transmission is perfect; it has a tendency to hunt for gears now and then. In Sport mode this problem disappears as the transmission just gets on with it, changing down early and holding on to gears for longer. But in Normal or Smart mode, gear shopping does pop up now and then. I’m happy to say that the car does remember what Drive mode you left it in when you exit the car, so you can just leave it in Sport and it will be in Sport the next time you start it. It’s surprising how many cars still don’t do this.

You get 4 drive modes in your Veloster; Normal, Sport, Eco, and Smart. I generally left it in Smart for my few weeks with the car. I did try Eco mode. Once. For some cars, Eco mode can be surprisingly good to drive on a daily basis. But the Veloster is a bit of a slug in Eco mode, so I avoided it. Smart Mode automatically switches between Normal, Eco and Sport mode to best suit the driver’s style.

You shouldn’t have any issue with the brakes – easily modulated, so again smooth driving is simple.

There is some road noise from the rear of the car – especially in the rain – and the tyres do not like coarse chip seal. Then again, not many tyres do. On the whole though, it’s a quiet ride. Speaking of the ride, it’s a bit of a highlight. Firm, but not uncomfortable.

While the interior is pretty basic, it was great to see some essential items included in the base Elite model’s specs. One of these is adaptive cruise control. It feels like I’m complaining a lot here, and the fact is I really enjoyed my time with the Veloster. I used the adaptive cruise regularly, it’s great through roadworks or in traffic jams. But – it doesn’t bring the car to a stop, instead you’ll get a couple of beeps at around 20km/h, and then it turns itself off. I noticed too that the adaptive cruise struggles to hold the speed you’ve set it to, when going down a hill. It’s nowhere near as bad as Toyota’s new RAV4, that doesn’t brake at all down a hill when using adaptive cruise, but the Veloster can creep up 5 or 6 km/h without you realising it. Keep a close eye on that speedo.

Luckily there’s two big fat simple dials for the driver, engine revs and speedo, with smaller engine temperature and fuel. The gauges are great – clear, with big numbers, up to 240km/h for the speedo. There’s no numerical marking for 50km/h, which is unfortunate, but there is a nice large digital speedo you can select in the driver’s information display.

Still on that Daily Drive, the seats are good – nicely firm but not too hard. The side support is perfect, and it was nice to have a car with cloth seats again. They’re warmer than leather in the mornings, and with no seat heaters, that was appreciated. You have to go to the Limited model to get heated seats. On the inside, the centre cubby is a reasonable size, but there’s no USB or 12-volt port in there, but there is a single 12-volt socket up front, along with two USB ports, and an AUX port for teenagers. The audio quality is average, but does lack volume if you like to crank it up now and then. A shame that you can’t use voice control when using Bluetooth – you have to have the phone connected via USB cable. That’s a bummer when you’re used to just calling people with one touch of the voice assistant button.

The steering wheel controls make up for this though – standard Hyundai, and so good. It doesn’t take long with the car before you stop looking at the buttons. They’re symmetrical too, which helps my brain not go crazy.

Visibility is not a strong point of the Veloster. With a swept-up roofline and tiny rear-door windows, the view out from inside is not the best. Thankfully there is blind spot monitoring, and it’s needed. The rear three-quarter design reminds me of the new Mazda3, and the visibility out of that car was just as tricky. Work has been done to improve A and C pillar obstruction in this new model, but that C pillar is still an obstacle.

So it looks sporty, it goes well. But does it handle? New Zealand gets the benefit of an Australian-tuned chassis, and it’s worked. It wasn’t until my last day with the Veloster than I got to take it out to a quiet, windy road, and see how it handled. This car is a fun drive, and handles extremely well to boot. It tracks nicely, and loves a slow in/fast out approach to tighter bends. With the Kumho Ecsta tyres, grip is excellent, and you can push the car on a long bend and eventually the rear will start to slide, but it’s all in a very controlled and undramatic manner.

Hyundai says that new multi-link rear suspension (compared to the previous model’s torsion beam) delivers:

  • Improved stability during high-speed cornering
  • Improved ride comfort through optimised bushing characteristics and reduced rear friction
  • Enhanced cornering stability through toe-in increase in lateral force of rear wheels
  • Enhanced steering through improvements to insulator structure
  • Improved ride comfort through extended wheel stroke and bump stopper
  • Improved ride comfort and steering through enhanced flexural characteristics of lower bushing on shock absorber

I have to say it is pretty impressive. The Veloster feels really planted on a twisty road, but if you do push it too fast it can feel a bit floaty, and then any bumps will not be your friend. But on the whole? Very, very good. The steering could use a bit more feeling, as it was hard to tell what the front wheels were doing at times, but it was still a pleasure. Hyundai says it’s all-new steering system is now motor-driven power steering, featuring a quicker-ratio rack, at 2.57 turns lock-to-lock. It does feel like a quicker ratio, I’ll give them that, but steering feel wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But it is fun – that was the surprise for me. It’s no Fiesta ST, but it can hold its own.

Paddles would have been good here, as it’s much easier to control the car on a twisty road with the gearbox in manual mode, but not the end of the world.

Apparently, torsional rigidity is up almost 38% over the previous model, and the whole car sure feels tight, no matter what the surface.

I only managed to get 400km on the Veloster, but it was a pleasant 400km. Other than my minor grumbles, it’s a great daily driver, it looks sporty and I could have easily just kept driving it every day. Fuel economy is on par with other cars in this segment; I averaged 7.5 litres per 100km in real-world driving.

The Competition

Brand/ModelEnginePower/TorquekW/NmCargo capacity, litresFuel consumption, L/100kmBase Price – High to Low
Kia Stinger EX2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol182/3534068.8$54,990
Alfa Romeo Giulietta1.7-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol177/3403506.8$49,990
Hyundai Veloster Limited2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol110/1803037.1$45,990
Mazda3 GTX2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol139/2522956.6$40,795
Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid1.8-litre, 4-cylinder petrol/hybrid72/1422084.2$39,990

The Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Design
Engine smoothness
Handling/grip
Ride quality
Standard safety features
Brakes 
Visibility
Cruise control doesn’t stop the car
High loading lip
Price/equipment

The Verdict

It was interesting reading back over this review, after I had typed it up. It looks like I’m listing things I don’t like about the Veloster, and some of them I don’t. But in the scheme of things, this is a very nice, sharp-looking small hatchback. 

It also happens to drive very well, and the handling/ride/grip combo is superb.

I think if anything, there was one decision I came to about the Veloster Limited: buy the Elite instead. You get a turbo, far more equipment, and sticky Michelin tyres. For $7K more, it’s a no brainer. 

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2020 Hyundai Veloster Elite
4.0 Chevrons

Vehicle Type4-door small-medium hatchback
Starting Price$45,990
Price as Tested$45,990
Engine16 Valve (HLA), Double Overhead Cam (DOHC), Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT), Atkinson cycle, 4-cylinder petrol
Transmission6-speed automatic
Power, TorquekW/Nm[email protected],[email protected],500rpm
Spare WheelSpace saver
Kerb Weight, Kg1,315
Length x Width x Height, mm4240x1800x1399
Cargo Capacity, litres (seats up/seats down)303/1081
Fuel economy, litres/100kmAdvertised Spec – combined – 7.1
Real World Test – combined – 7.5
Tank capacity, litres50
Towing CapacityKg, unbraked/brakedNA/NA
Turning circle, metres10.6
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
 Warranty3 year 100,000km mechanical warranty
3 year 100,000km Roadside Assist
10 year 200,000km anti perforation corrosion body warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating5 Star
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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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