For 2019 Hyundai redesigned the Veloster with more horsepower for all trim levels and an optional turbo. The Turbo Ultimate offers a bevy of driver aids, conveniences, two-tone paint and a tasteful interior. But is it better than the previous generation Veloster?
In a word, yes. The new Veloster didn’t just get a facelift. Hyundai trimmed the fat to make the car lighter and treated it to a more sophisticated rear suspension setup.
For 2019, it looks like the Veloster hit the gym to get in fighting form. There’s nothing really drastic about the redesign. But all the little changes add up to a look that’s just a little more toned and chiseled than the first gen Veloster. Gone is the bubbly, curvy aesthetic in favor of harder edges. For example, the rear side windows use to swoop upward, now they sport hard geometric angles, like the square jaw of a boxer.
Where there was once a chunky arc protruding from the quarter panels and fenders, there’s now a leaner looking body line stamped into the sheet metal. 18-inch alloys spin under the wheel wells.
The headlights, which used to appear as though they were smeared back onto the fenders, have been curtailed. Now they are set in a determined countenance and peer forward on either side of the gaping fish-mouth grille. The Turbo Ultimate has little hints of red trim below the grille that subtly convey its forced induction powerplant. The rear end looks tidy with its dashing center-mounted dual exhaust outlets.
The high-bolstered front seats are heated. When combined with the low-slung ride, they make it tough to climb in and out. But that’s old-people talk, this car is for boy racers and college kids whose joints still work. For the Ultimate trim level, seats are treated to a racy red stripe set in creamy light-gray leather. The red stripe theme continues throughout the interior.
The Turbo Ultimate features blindspot monitoring, a heads-up display and forward collision avoidance. The 8-inch touch screen stereo/nav system pumps your jams through seven speakers and a subwoofer. It features Bluetooth connectivity and Apple Carplay as well as Android Auto. There’s a wireless charging pad in the console and an extra wide sunroof above it all to let in plenty of sunlight.
The rear seats are accessed by either scrambling in behind the front driver’s seat or by opening the rear singular rear door on the passenger side. Legroom in the rear is adequate, but headroom for taller passengers is compromised. The rear seats fold flat for an uninhibited cargo space from beneath the hatch to the back of the front seats.
The Veloster turbo has a 201 horsepower turbocharged 1.6 liter to thank for its peppy acceleration. Power is transferred to the front wheels through Hyundai’s excellent dual clutch, seven-speed automatic transmission that never failed to find the right gear in short order. From zero, the car can get to sixty miles per hour in just over six seconds. Which is not bad, but the corners is where this car really shines.
Engage Sport mode, and the steering goes from light to tight. The shift points are pushed further up toward the redline, and the little Hyundai is a pleasure to toss into the curves. It feels predictable and inspires confidence. Grip is good, and body roll is minimal. The drawback of such a rigid chassis and stiff suspension is a somewhat rough ride when the going gets bumpy.
The only issue encountered during this test was is a rattle in the sunroof assembly. But it’d probably be covered under Hyundai’s excellent warranty. The combined mileage is right at 30 miles per gallon, with 34 on the highway and 28 around town. Highway noise is noticeable, but not overwhelming.
The new Veloster is a quantifiably better than the previous generation almost any way you dice it. And the new Turbo variant seems to punch above its price tag, especially in the $23,000 R-spec. However, when dolled up in the Turbo Ultimate garb as tested, the price tag swells toward $29,000. That’s Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST money. Two comparable cars which have a little more elbow room.
The bottom line is that the two plus one door configuration could be seen as a bit of a compromise. And unless you just adore the Veloster’s quirky layout, and need the top spec turbo, the R-Spec or the plain turbo might be more bang for your buck. Of course, if you’re really committed to owning the baddest Veloster on the block, you’ll keep saving those pennies and nickels and shoot for the Veloster N… But that’s another story.