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Tuesday 13th March 2012


DRIVEN: HYUNDAI VELOSTER 1.6 GDI DCT

Bold, stylish and distinctive is the Veloster the first really PH-worthy Hyundai?


We were keen to get our hands on the Veloster, not least to figure out whether that 2+1 door arrangement was anything more than a gimmick. It isn't.

You can't argue with the boldness
You can't argue with the boldness
But there's a lot more to it than that of course. Hyundai has made a coupe before of course but the Veloster is a very different prospect and takes the brand into aspirational territory. Certainly on Hyundai's part. But do Scirocco buyers aspire to Hyundai?

The value proposition, backed up with now strong design and those epic warranties, goes a long way to overturning badge snobbery in the mainstream marketplace. But it's got a harder test against cars like the Scirocco, Mini Coupe, Peugeot RCZ and - yes, it's been at least a day since we last mentioned it - the forthcoming Toyota GT 86 and Subaru BRZ.

It's one of those cars you want to will to succeed, just for the boldness of the concept. But, sadly, in this sector more than any first impressions count a great deal. Sadly the wow factor styling quickly plays second fiddle to ew factor plastics and the very clear sense it's been ruthlessly constructed to a price.

Looks good, but not up close
Looks good, but not up close
It's a pity. Because it looks great, exactly the kind of bold design statement Hyundai needs to stand out. And superficially it's the same inside. Strong design abounds and it all feels very 'now' with some great touches like punchy graphics on the infotainment system. Loads of standard kit too, including a touchscreen 'media centre', climate control, parking sensors and LED DRLs. Sport spec - another £2,500 - gets you leather, a full-length glass roof and 18-inch wheels plus more besides. Lots to like, in other words. And then your finger brushes another exposed screw head, the fuel filler cap clangs shut cheaply or the charcoal-like whiff of Korean plastic tickles your nostrils. It's a shame. Details matter and in this respect the Veloster, having dazzled with the big picture, falls down on closer analysis.

Same with the way it drives too, unfortunately. There's nothing actually wrong with it but nor does it inspire in anyway whatsoever. The steering feels springy, the gearbox - a dual-clutch auto (£1,250 extra) in this case - wails like a CVT and the 140hp is very hard won indeed. Hyundai badly needs to get that turbo bolted on and to the market if it's to square up to rivals using the 1.6 turbo PSA engine (Mini, RCZ) or the twincharged VW 1.4 in the Scirocco. Hyundai is moving in this direction but it can't come soon enough.

If it went as well as it looked it'd be a winner
If it went as well as it looked it'd be a winner
Much of which you could forgive, expecting a competitive pricetag. And then you look at the bottom line figure on our test car: £22,845. Money that'd get you in a Chili pack equipped 184hp Mini Cooper S Coupe with a grand to spend on extras or, for a few hundred quid more, a Peugeot RCZ with the zingy 156hp turbo 1.6 or a 160hp 1.4 TSI Scirocco.

Yes, the Veloster offers better back seat accommodation than many of these. And bags of style, badge snobs be damned.

You can see the Koreans working their way through the checklist and 'dynamics' is clearly next on the agenda too. Put simply the Veloster is a facelift away from meeting the Mini, Scirocco, RCZ and others on equal terms across the board. VW et al can sleep securely for now. But the Koreans are nothing if not focused and you can be sure the Veloster isn't done before it's begun.


HYUNDAI VELOSTER 1.6 GDI SPORT DCT
Engine:
1,591cc 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual/6-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 140@6,300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 123@4,850rpm
0-62mph: 9.7sec/10.3 sec (DCT)
Top speed: 125mph/124mph (DCT)
Weight: 1,236kg/1,279kg (DCT)
MPG: 43.5/44.1 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 148g/km/145g/km (DCT)
Price: £21,745 (£22,845 as tested)




 

 

Author: Dan Trent