RE: Hyundai Veloster N Performance: Driven

RE: Hyundai Veloster N Performance: Driven

Saturday 12th January

Hyundai Veloster N Performance: Driven

The i30N's asymmetric sister shows that forbidden fruit can taste sweet



Americans frequently grumble about the cool European models that the strange logic of the car industry's volume planning denies them. It's rare to find the boot switching feet - while some of us might like a pickup the size of a postcode, or the chance to buy a Camaro or Corvette with its steering wheel on the proper side, the truth is there aren't many U.S.-only cars that we really care about.

But here's one that does feel like a loss: the Hyundai Veloster N. The second generation of the quirky coupe with two doors on one side and one on the other is being restricted to the U.S. and Korea, meaning that we won't be getting a chance to sample the N version. By a similar logic, the U.S. won't be getting the closely related i30N. Which is a shame because, having driven it in the 'States, I can report it's an unpretentious performance weapon.

Dollar: pound price comparisons rarely work due to the surcharge effectively added to almost everything in Europe. So don't be too jealous that the regular Veloster N starts at just $27,785 - a bargainacious £21,650 at current exchange rates, and a solid six grand less than British buyers are charged for the equivalent i30. More important is the price difference between the Veloster and its obvious competitors, with the standard 250hp version undercutting the very basic base 230hp Volkswagen Golf GTI by $700 in the 'States. Even the brawnier Veloster N Performance, which gets a 275hp version of the same 2.0-litre turbo engine, a limited slip differential and bigger brakes is still slips under $30,000. Like the i30N, both Veloster Ns come with switchable active dampers as standard.


I drove the full-on Performance version on some challenging Michigan backroads. The scenery was different from my last time in an i30N, on a wet Welsh mountain road, but the dynamic experience was close enough to leave no doubts about the closeness of the two cars' mechanical relationship, plus a similarly back-to-basics mission.

Unpretentious is a good word for the Veloster N. Raw, but in a good way. In a world where mainstream performance cars increasingly seem to try and delivering their oomph with as little apparent effort as possible it's a surprise to find something quite so unfiltered. Indeed, it takes a while to realise just how good the basics are.

Like the i30N there are numerous switchable dynamic modes and the ability to individually tweak settings for the engine, steering, chassis, stability control and even the limited-slip differential. You could probably spend days chasing a perfect set-up, but I quickly narrowed down my preferred options to Sport mode - one step up from Normal and fine for everyday stuff - and the full-fang N which much turns the Veloster into one of those furniture-chewing purple Minions.


The N's engine never tries to hide its forced induction. There's low-down turbo lag, and even with plenty of revs already dialled up there's still a sense of power swelling for a couple of beats in response to a big change in throttle position. The motor seems to enjoy being revved hard and sounds good being worked to the 6750rpm where the limiter calls time. There's a modest amount of digital augmentation to the soundtrack in the cabin, but there's no doubting the genuineness of the cracking and popping that can be produced by easing the throttle in N mode.

There's also torque steer, although this also adds more to the experience than it subtracts. Accelerate hard over rougher surfaces and the steering wheel reports on a heated debate between the front wheels as they battle to deliver traction, but the Veloster never feels too wide while this is going on. The sticky differential helps to fight understeer and - like the i30N - there's an adjustability and willingness for the Veloster to alter its cornering stance in response to throttle stimuli. It will oversteer - I checked - but it is happier being pushed close to its limits rather than taken over them. It's the sort of car you get out of after tackling a challenging bit of road with sweaty palms and a cheesy grin.

Driven less hard, the Hyundai feels more compromised. Chassis control is iron-fisted at speed, although in N mode the dampers feel too hard for anything other than the smoothest roads. But even fully softened the Veloster feels very firm, especially when asked to deal with low-speed bumps. Cruising refinement isn't up to much either, with road noise adding to engine drone at constant revs. The gearshift is light and accurate, but doesn't have much feel; I also got to drive the Veloster R-Spec which sits one rung down the ladder from the N, and it had a both a meatier gearshift and a better-feeling metal lever. The Veloster's brake pedal was a bit rubbery too, although the car seemed to stop well enough.


While I loved the N-ness I still struggle with the concept of the Veloster in general. Other than giving an answer to future automotive trivia quizzes the three-door layout doesn't really add much: room in the back is limited and even from its single-doored side the Veloster looks more like a three-door hatch than a proper coupe. The sabre-toothed rear wing is also a fair way over the top, and rear visibility is every bit as poor as you'd expect from looking at the glassline.

The cabin didn't encourage me to write home, either. It's grey and functional, everything is presented cleanly and construction feels solid, but it lacks specialness given the aspiration to be taken seriously as a coupe. It also feels very similar to the interior of the base Veloster, despite the N costing nearly 50 percent more. But these are grumbles; what matter is what's underneath, and that's pretty special.

Hyundai might be right not to sell both i30N and Veloster N in the same territories. While clearly different in design, they drive similarly enough to run the risk of cannibalising each other's sales. With the practical five-door hatch we've been given the best all-rounder. But while the Veloster could only play in a smaller part of the market, it could have a niche pretty much to itself. It's probably the closest thing in production to the recently retired Volkswagen Scirocco. It's also proof that Hyundai can still do something genuinely different to anything else; not something you could say about any part of the brand's European portfolio.


SPECIFICATION - HYUNDAI VELOSTER N PERFORMANCE
Engine:
1,998cc, 4-cyl, turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 275@ 6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 260@1,450rpm
0-60mph: 5.9-sec
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,380kg
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
Price: $29,885









Author
Discussion

Mac Sinclair

Original Poster:

30 posts

28 months

Saturday 12th January
quotequote all
A proper odball shame it’s not making it to the UK

LuS1fer

34,655 posts

182 months

Saturday 12th January
quotequote all
I wasn't keen on the original Veloster but this looks pretty stylish and I can't help liking it. I would never buy the dull-looking hatch so this is perhaps an opportunity missed - if the market wasn't clamouring for wallowy SUVs.

Edited by LuS1fer on Saturday 12th January 14:06

bozzy.

111 posts

15 months

Saturday 12th January
quotequote all
I find the positive comments above quite funny!

If we were getting it, we would have had the usual comments of it being too expensive, not practical enough, not fast enough, would rather have a used Cayman etc etc.

They say people always want what they can’t have.

LuS1fer

34,655 posts

182 months

Saturday 12th January
quotequote all
bozzy. said:
I find the positive comments above quite funny!

If we were getting it, we would have had the usual comments of it being too expensive, not practical enough, not fast enough, would rather have a used Cayman etc etc.

They say people always want what they can’t have.
Well you can only judge it on the exchange rate £21650 which is good value but if the i30N is 6 grand more, that would not be the price and ye, the criticism of such a price would be justified. That's the problem with hypothetical, we may want a car at a lower price but wouldn't touch it once it is no longer a bargain.

wst

3,143 posts

98 months

Saturday 12th January
quotequote all
I can't decide if I prefer the 1 door side or the 2 door side... Weird concept but it looks less all-round usable than the i30N. I imagine it would be the Scirocco to the i30's Golf, but I can't decide if it is the prettier less practical sibling or a bit ugly..

Also: Weird number plate - black on black? I wouldn't mind that here...
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pmr01

173 posts

87 months

Saturday 12th January
quotequote all
Not as dramatic, or as original as the first one which is a disappointment...I agree that it just looks like a three door hatchback now.

My wife had one of the originals in white and the reality of living with a two door / one door is great. It can be practical, but can also look sporty.


FakeConcern

315 posts

74 months

Saturday 12th January
quotequote all
I was torn between a Volvo C30 T5 or a Veloster Turbo.

I got the Volvo

WCZ

6,108 posts

131 months

Saturday 12th January
quotequote all
£23k for 275bhp, lsd and big brakes, sat nav, xenons etc is good value!

unsprung

2,601 posts

61 months

Sunday 13th January
quotequote all
PH article says said:
Americans frequently grumble about the cool European models that the strange logic of the car industry's volume planning denies them. It's rare to find the boot switching feet
if only Americans could lower their incomes and, at the same time, increase their rates of tax and their operating costs

then they, too, could have a market in which performance tends to focus on the well-to-do


rb_89

56 posts

7 months

Sunday 13th January
quotequote all
I quite like the looks from the outside, the inside could perhaps do with a bit more excitement. I guess the article is right, if both n models were available in this country for near enough the same price which one would get more sales? they sound near enough the same car to drive.

blearyeyedboy

4,708 posts

116 months

Sunday 13th January
quotequote all
Intriguing.

I imagine that Hyundai have determined carefully that it's not worth bringing to Europe.

While Scirocco and Golf comparisons are valid, they are also pertinent for another reason: VW decided there wasn't sufficient profit in replacing the Scirocco, and are building T-Rocs now instead. Even moving away from coupés (of a sort) to hatches, there's a clear industry direction away form the 3 door hatch and towards the 5 door hatch. Civic? Mégane? Focus? All now 5 door.

It's also worth noting that cars on sale in the US and the UK or Europe are inevitably cheaper in the US. Look at a Focus ST or Golf GTi. A Veloster N won't be cheaper than an i30 N by the time it came to these shores once that metric is considered.

Which begs the question that is answered by the absence of a modern Scirocco or Veloster N in Europe: How many people would bother buying a Veloster N in Europe when you can buy an i30N for similar money?

Lemming Train

1,360 posts

9 months

Sunday 13th January
quotequote all
Everything you can see forward of the windscreen is from a Focus ST.

Helicopter123

4,886 posts

93 months

Sunday 13th January
quotequote all
Good value but hardly subtle in the looks department.

lbc

2,546 posts

154 months

Sunday 13th January
quotequote all
I won't buy anymore 2-door cars, unless it had a removable roof.

Just not practical for daily use,

GoodCompany

9 posts

Monday 14th January
quotequote all
I just can't stand the 'special' colour of these, like wedgwood Jasperware you found in your grandmother's best cabinet. Yes there's a sea of monochrome out there but this baby blue abomination of a shade is rank for something trying to be a performance car. I'm aware other colours are available, but this is its 'signature' no?

Melchett1905

238 posts

1 month

Monday 14th January
quotequote all
lbc said:
I won't buy anymore 2-door cars, unless it had a removable roof.

Just not practical for daily use,
The Veloster has three doors.........

blearyeyedboy

4,708 posts

116 months

Monday 14th January
quotequote all
GoodCompany said:
I just can't stand the 'special' colour of these, like wedgwood Jasperware you found in your grandmother's best cabinet. Yes there's a sea of monochrome out there but this baby blue abomination of a shade is rank for something trying to be a performance car. I'm aware other colours are available, but this is its 'signature' no?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that...
Have you ever seen it in the metal? To my eyes, it's quite attractive. Photographs don't do it justice. It's no EType but the colour makes it seem sustained without being too garish, to my eyes.

cookington

54 posts

79 months

Tuesday
quotequote all
article said:
It's the sort of car you get out of after tackling a challenging bit of road with sweaty palms and a cheesy grin.
Not sure what point he's trying to make here? Does it have special handles that you can still grip when you have sweaty palms?

Track_Cit

468 posts

159 months

Wednesday
quotequote all
Looks like a Focus RS has mated with a Mk 3 Renault Megane.....very odd looking.