What stands out?
The first-generation Veloster is a sporty-looking four-seat coupe that helped Hyundai shake off its dowdy image, arriving with some real dynamic ability and a big dose of visual attitude.
It is remarkable for having a single door on the driver side and two doors on the passenger side – no, that is not a manufacturing glitch. All Velosters are well appointed inside, with seats trimmed partly in leather, Apple and Android phone integration, and a sunroof.
What might bug me?
Driving at 80km/h on the space-saver spare, until you can fix your full-size flat tyre.
That your Veloster doesn’t feel as fast as it looks. The Veloster – the less costly of the two versions on offer – goes about as hard as a typical small hatchback such as a Toyota Corolla or Hyundai’s own i30. If you want sporty performance to go with the looks, you need the more expensive Veloster, the Veloster SR Turbo, which is a much quicker car.
That you can’t play music from CDs. Velosters on sale from August 2016 treat the Compact Disc as obsolete technology, and (like a growing number of new vehicles) don’t have a player.
Forcing rear passengers to use just the one door (if you plan on making frequent use of both rear seats).
If you choose an auto Veloster, getting used to the dual-clutch auto gearbox design in city driving. It won’t match the very fluid, elastic response from a standing start that you get with conventional or CVT auto gearboxes, and may therefore require more attention in stop-start traffic or when parking.
What body styles are there?
There’s just the one body style, and that’s a four-door coupe (if you count the three passenger doors and the hatchback).
The Veloster is front-wheel drive, and it is classed as a sports car, lower priced.
What features did all first-generation Velosters have?
Proximity key entry and start, which lets you unlock the car and drive away without removing the key from your pocket or bag. To start the Veloster, you push a button on the dashboard. Cruise control.
A six-speaker audio system with iPod compatibility, AUX and USB inputs, and Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming. This is controlled from a 7.0-inch central touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and (for Android phones) Google Now. You can display apps (such as navigation) from compatible smartphones on the touchscreen, and control them from there or by voice.
Tilt and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, and buttons on the wheel for operating the cruise control and the sound system.
Seats trimmed in a mix of real and fake leather, with powered tilt and slide adjustment for the driver. Air-conditioning that maintains a set temperature.
A reversing camera, and rear parking sensors.
Headlamps that sense when the sun is setting and turn themselves on, and long-lived LED daytime running lamps. Power-folding and heated exterior mirrors. A long glass sunroof, with powered sunshade.
Aluminium alloy wheels in an 18-inch size, and a space-saver spare wheel. A tyre-pressure monitor, which will warn you if a tyre has lost pressure – a major safety feature.
Hill-start assist, which controls the brakes automatically to make take-offs on hills easier.
There are six air-bags: two directly in front of the driver and front-seat passenger; two to protect the front occupants from side impacts; and full-length curtain air-bags to protect the heads of front and rear passengers from side-impacts.
Electronic stability control, which can help avoid a skid occurring. This technology is mandatory on all new cars.
All Velosters are covered by Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?
The most fuel efficient of two engines available powers the least costly model, called simply the Veloster. It’s a 1.6-litre petrol and while it does the job, it isn’t as fast as the car looks – a Veloster is about as quick as a Toyota Corolla. This engine consumes 6.4 litres/100km in the official test (urban and country combined).
The alternative engine is a turbocharged version of the same unit that uses about 10 per cent more fuel but is much stronger, providing at least half again as much thrust in most driving conditions. This engine comes in the Veloster SR Turbo, and it matches the car’s ambitions with its abilities.
Either Veloster is available with a six-speed manual gearbox. Either can also be had with a dual-clutch auto gearbox – a six-speeder on the Veloster, or a seven-speed on the Veloster SR Turbo.
A dual-clutch auto works like a robot-controlled manual gearbox. It changes gears for you very swiftly and silently once on the move and reduces fuel use, but it won’t match the fluid, elastic take-up from rest offered by a conventional auto gearbox or a CVT.
What key features do I get if I spend more?
If you step past the Veloster and spend more for a Veloster SR Turbo, the main thing you get is the turbocharged and much more powerful engine, along with an extra ratio in the dual-clutch gearbox if you opt for an auto. In addition, the SR Turbo has bigger brakes, more effective headlights, very long-lasting LED taillights, and leather trim on the steering wheel. And it rides more firmly, on suspension that has been tuned for sportier driving.
The SR Turbo also brings you sporty visual touches that include a body kit, different wheels, and interior highlights and contrasts.
Does any upgrade have a down side?
Not really. Going for the turbocharged car will cost you a bit more in fuel, and its body kit may demand you take more care on transitions to steep driveways.
Standard colours on the Veloster and Veloster SR Turbo are white and yellow, respectively. All others cost extra.
The Turbo is also available in a couple of matt-grey finishes. These might look cool now, but they require extra care and special cleaning techniques to avoid damaging them.
How comfortable is the Veloster?
The Veloster’s cabin is classy, with plenty of cossetting for the front seat occupants. There is a prominent centre console and a high-tech look and feel. The stereo is one of the better systems at this price point.
The only catch is the low-slung seating, which makes getting in and out a little more athletic than you might have imagined. That can be tiring on a day-to-day basis but it does bring a sporty outlook and allows a little more headroom for taller people.
The driving experience is solid, with a tight feel to the car and a steering wheel that has an intuitive relationship with the front wheels.
The engines can become a little noisy when revved really hard.
What about safety in a Hyundai Veloster?
The Veloster comes with six airbags, and its side-curtain airbags extend to the rear compartment so that rear-seat passengers get some cushioning in a side impact. A reversing camera and rear parking sensors are standard, and LED daytime running lamps and auto-on headlamps make it more likely you will be seen in dim light.
A tyre pressure monitor warns you if a tyre is going flat, meaning you are less likely to lose control from a puncture.
The Veloster senses crash impacts and automatically unlocks all the doors, to allow occupants out and rescue teams in.
However, no Veloster offers autonomous emergency braking, which would scan the road ahead for obstacles, warn you of impending collisions, and brake the car automatically if required.
The Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the first-generation Veloster at its maximum five stars for safety in May 2015.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?
Keener drivers will gravitate towards the Veloster SR Turbo, mainly because of the extra performance from the turbocharged engine.
It really makes a difference, too. While the base Veloster is only so-so as a driver’s car, the Turbo is a much more convincing package.
That said, even the Turbo falls short of being a true modern hot hatch. But it’s pretty close.
Both of the current, Series II, Velosters benefit from revised suspension settings that were developed in Australia to help the car feel better in turns. The SR Turbo also benefits from slightly firmer settings, and it steers and corners more enthusiastically.
How is life in the rear seats?
Not great, in a nutshell. As well as having a centre console in the rear, making the car a strict four-seater rather than five, rear leg room is pretty tight.
Also, because of the sweep of the roofline, rear-seat passengers’ heads are covered by the glass of the hatchback, rather than being shaded by the roof itself.
But that extra door on the kerb side does work, making it easier to enter the rear seat from that side. It also makes the Veloster much more child-restraint friendly.
How is it for carrying stuff?
Not bad, actually. Unlike a lot of coupes with their chopped-off tails, the Veloster has a decent space behind the rear seats which is quite deep and wide.
The rear seatback 50/50 and folds reasonably flat for carrying longer loads.
Where did Hyundai make this Veloster?
The first-generation Veloster was made at Hyundai’s Ulsan plant in South Korea.
What might I miss that similar cars have?
Perhaps rear-wheel drive, which is offered in the Toyota 86 Coupe and its cousin the Subaru BRZ – both of which are a little more hard-edged and would appeal more to the purist.
The Mazda MX-5 sports roadster is also rear-wheel drive and offers open-air motoring via a fold-away roof.
If you are looking at the Veloster as an alternative small car and don’t necessarily want a coupe, it is worth noting that several small hatchbacks, among them Hyundai’s own i30 and the Mazda3, offer automatic emergency braking on all or some versions.
The i30 and its sedan sibling the Hyundai Elantra are also available in SR Turbo trim, with fine handling and a revised version of the Veloster’s turbocharged engine.
When did Hyundai replace the first-generation Veloster?
The Veloster was facelifted in mid-2015, the resulting Series II car receiving wider tyres, retuned suspension, and the option of the twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
In August 2016 the range was reduced from four models (base and better equipped ‘plus’ versions for each engine) to two, with the Veloster and Veloster SR Turbo gaining most of the features from their ‘plus’ former stablemates.
Both cars’ multimedia systems received support for mirroring Apple and Android phones on their touchscreens, but gave up their CD players and the inbuilt satellite navigation that had been reserved for ‘plus’ variants. The SR Turbo did not receive the heated and ventilated front seats, and Flex Steer adjustable steering weight, from the SR plus. But its dual-clutch gearbox received an extra ratio, for a total of seven.
The second-generation Veloster arrived in September 2019 featuring base-spec 2.0-litre version and punchy 1.6-litre turbo as found in the Hyundai i30 N-Line and Kia Cerato GT. It's also well equipped in terms of active safety and creature comforts. It's exterior design isn't quite as bold as the first-generation model giving it more of a family resemblance with the i30 hatch.
I like this car, but I can’t choose which version. Can you help?
Without a doubt, the SR Turbo makes the best fist of being an entertaining car, thanks to its stiffer suspension and perkier engine.
But if it’s mainly the equipment, value and look you want, then the cheaper version delivers, with either transmission.