2012 Hyundai Veloster

November 18, 2011

Bottom line: The Veloster, a car as practically good and useful as it is attractive, is going to be a hard sell. It sends too many messages, too many of them in conflict with its real-world performance. People who buy it because its looks say “racetrack” will be disappointed. (Caveat: With driver only and no cargo, the 2,600-pound car is a hoot to drive. Add people and cargo and it becomes a bit of a slug.)

Ride, acceleration and handling: Ride is very good on smooth roads and dicey to miserable on rougher surfaces — a ride characteristic of most short-wheelbase automobiles (104.3 inches in this case). Handling is mostly good. Acceleration is good enough to drive within legal speed limits competently.

Head-turning quotient: It is extremely attractive inside and out. But it is really just an economy hatchback, folks.

Body style/layout: The Veloster is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive hatchback with three doors (one on the driver’s side, two on the passenger side) built on a largely revised Hyundai Elantra subcompact/compact platform. You can add a Style and Tech packages (the latter is available only if you also opt for the former).

Engine/transmission: Standard equipment is a 16-valve gasoline-direct-injection 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (138 horsepower, 123 foot-pounds of torque). A six-speed manual gearbox is standard; a six-speed automatic that also can be operated manually
(with paddle shifters on the steering wheel) is optional.

Capacities: There is seething (oops — seating) for four people. Cargo capacity with front and rear seats up is
15.5 cubic feet. Total interior volume with rear seats down is 105.3 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons (make it regular — premium or plus grades won’t make the car go any faster or run any more smoothly).

Mileage: The manual-transmission Veloster averages
28 miles per gallon in the city and 40 on the highway; subtract a couple of miles for the automatic.

Safety: Standard features include disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); electronic brake-force distribution; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; electronic stability and traction control; and side and head air bags.

Price: The base price is $17,300. Dealer’s invoice is $16,699. Price as tested is $22,300, including $4,240 in options (among them onboard navigation with a high-definition backup camera, one of the best available; rear proximity warning system; panoramic glass roof; piano-black interior trim; 18-inch-diameter alloy wheels with painted inserts; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; leatherette-covered seats; and premium eight-speaker sound system) and a $760 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $21, 332. You can bargain.

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