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Hyundai Veloster 2020 review

If you are looking for something different and sporty then the Veloster could be the funnest reason not to buy an SUV.
EXPERT RATING
7.6
The Hyundai Veloster is back for a second generation and while it still has the same ugly-pretty looks, some major changes have taken place.

Promise me something. Don’t judge a Hyundai Veloster just by its looks, especially this new generation which has just arrived.

There will be some who think this quirky three-door hatch with its cranky-frog appearance is all show and no go, while others will think it must be a hot hatch. It’s neither.

So, what is it, then? If anything it could be the perfect compromise car: a coupe with easier access to the back seats than a two-door, a choice of engines, an affordable entry-point, plus good dynamics and a comfortable ride.

I went to the Australian launch of the new Veloster and here’s what I found out about this much improved second-generation model.

Hyundai Veloster 2020: Turbo
Safety rating
Engine Type
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$35,490

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

There are three grades in the Veloster range with the entry-point simply called Veloster, which lists for $29,490 with a manual gearbox and $31,790 for the automatic transmission.

The entry-point simply called Veloster, which lists for $29,490. The entry-point simply called Veloster, which lists for $29,490.

Above this is the Turbo, which lists for $35,490 for the manual (add $3K for a dual-clutch auto) and at the top of the range is the Turbo Premium for $38,990 in manual guise and, that’s right, three grand extra for the dual-clutch.

The standard equipment list is impressive. Well, it is for the Turbo and Premium, but the entry-grade Veloster still comes with a good safety suite (read about that below) and features such as LED daytime running lights, a 7.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, single-zone climate control, sports front seats, leather-clad steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres and switchable drive modes if you go for the auto transmission.

Standard features include a 7.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and single-zone climate control. Standard features include a 7.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and single-zone climate control.

The Turbo is the sweet spot in the Veloster range for value coming standard with an 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, eight-speaker Infinity sound system, proximity unlocking, LED headlights, sat nav, digital performance gauges, digital radio and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.

The Turbo Premium has all of the Turbo’s features but adds leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, power adjustable driver’s seat, head-up display, heated steering wheel, sunroof, and wireless charging for your smartphone. Plus, this grade gives you the option of the two-tone effect with the black roof for $1000. Premium paint on all grades costs $595.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Nobody had seen anything quite like the Veloster before the first one arrived in 2012. This ugly-pretty hatch with cranky frog looks made Australia rubber neck.

 This ugly-pretty hatch has a cranky frog look. This ugly-pretty hatch has a cranky frog look.

It arrived just after Hyundai had finished winning over Aussies with small affordable cars with outstanding five-star ANCAP safety scores and it was a case of  'now for something completely different.'

I’m going to put it out there and say the styling was about half-a-decade ahead of the trend because by the time 2017 rolled around brands like Toyota were coming up with pretty similar designs in the form of its C-HR and even more recently Lamborghini’s Urus bears more than a passing resemblance to the Hyundai. Where have you ever seen that written before?

This second-generation Veloster has arrived looking a bit more grown up and serious than the pioneering first-gen, with its longer nose and sleeker head and tail-lights, the latter of which now extend through into the tailgate.

It's fun looking and different with the pumped up wheelarches and a dramatic roofline. It's fun looking and different with the pumped up wheelarches and a dramatic roofline.

And while it’s not quite as toy-like in its design as the original it’s still fun looking and different with the pumped up wheelarches, central exhaust, a roofline which slopes dramatically down to the oversized rear spoiler and the three-door design – one for the driver, the front passenger and a single entrance to the second row.

Yep, if you didn’t realise it then you should know that from the right-hand side the Veloster looks like a two-door coupe, but from the left it appears to be a four-door. Not even Hyundai can give me a reason why, other than it offers the practicality that a two-door coupe can’t.  

All Velosters come with 18-inch alloy wheels but each grade’s rims come in a different design, while the Turbo and Turbo Premium have blacked-out side skirts and a sporty grille with a red-painted lower air-intake.

All Velosters come with 18-inch alloy wheels but each grade’s rims come in a different design. All Velosters come with 18-inch alloy wheels but each grade’s rims come in a different design.

Each grade of Veloster comes with a different interior package with a black and blue colour scheme with cloth material in the entry-level car; while the Turbo’s cabin is black with red highlights using cloth and leather; and the Turbo premium is similar but with leather upholstery.

The Turbo and Turbo Premium's cabin is black with red highlights using cloth and leather. The Turbo and Turbo Premium's cabin is black with red highlights using cloth and leather.

That said, there’s way too much hard plastic used on all grades, from the dash to the door sills and that brings the feeling of quality down even if the fit and finish of the cabin is excellent.

At 4240mm long, 1800mm across, and 1399mm tall the Veloster is about 100mm shorter in length than an i30. At 4240mm long, 1800mm across, and 1399mm tall the Veloster is about 100mm shorter in length than an i30.

At 4240mm long, 1800mm across, and 1399mm tall the Veloster is about 100mm shorter in length than an i30, a little bit wider and not quite as tall, giving it a low and planted stance.

Colours include 'Red Ignite', 'Yellow Thunder Bolt', 'Chalk White', 'Dark Knight', 'Tangerine Comet', 'Phantom Black' and 'Lake Silver'. Frankly a frog-looking car should come in green, but that isn’t offered, neither is blue, grey or purple.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

There are two engines in the Veloster range: a 110kW/180Nm 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol four cylinder in the entry-grade car; and the 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four in the Turbo and Turbo Premium.

There's a 110kW/180Nm 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol four cylinder engine in the entry-grade car. There's a 110kW/180Nm 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol four cylinder engine in the entry-grade car.

Both engines can be had with a six-speed manual, while the 2.0-litre is also available with a six-speed automatic and the 1.6-litre is offered with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

The Turbo and Turbo Premium get a 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine. The Turbo and Turbo Premium get a 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine.

For me, the best combination is the turbo engine with the manual gearbox. For more on what the Veloster is like to drive, skip on down to that section below.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Hyundai says that after a combination of open and urban road driving the 2.0-litre petrol engine with the six-speed manual will use 7.0L/100km, while the six-speed auto will need 7.1L/100km.

In my test drive of the automatic the trip computer was telling me it was using an average of 7.1L/100km but that was mainly country roads.

As for the turbo engine Hyundai says consumption will be 7.3L/100km with the manual gearbox and 6.9L/100km with the dual-clutch. My testing of the DCT car saw the trip computer report 6.8L/100km after motorways and then getting lost in Brisbane’s CBD during peak hour. Not bad at all.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

I kicked things off in the base grade Veloster with its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic, then upgraded to the Turbo Premium with the 1.6-turbo and dual-clutch auto, before piloting the mid-range Turbo with the six-speed manual gearbox. It was enough for me to see straight away which I’d want in my driveway.

And ‘yeah-nah’, it wasn’t the base grade Veloster. Not for me, anyway. The frankly superb (for the money) suspension is let down by an engine which can’t offer the performance a car this well set-up deserves.

Still, you get the look, great handling, outstanding steering and a comfortable and composed ride for less money than the rest. So, if ‘extra sporty’ driving doesn’t matter to you, then you will still love the way the entry Veloster feels to pilot.

If you have a little more to spend my recommendation is the middle-of-the-range Turbo with the six-speed manual. This is the bang for your buck winner with that 1.6-litre turbo making 150kW/265Nm at a pretty darn good price.

This is the bang for your buck winner with that 1.6-litre turbo making 150kW/265Nm at a pretty darn good price. This is the bang for your buck winner with that 1.6-litre turbo making 150kW/265Nm at a pretty darn good price.

You’ll find the same engine in the Hyundai i30 N-Line, but the Veloster Turbo with a manual gearbox is 1270kg - 45kg lighter than the i30, giving it a better power-to-weight ratio.

The lightness and all that torque rushing in from 1500rpm, combined with quick and natural steering makes the Veloster Turbo feel so pointable, changing direction almost as quickly as you can think it.

The Veloster can be had as a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The Veloster can be had as a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

The manual gearbox just ups the engagement factor, with a light clutch pedal and easy ‘flick of the wrist’ shifts.

If you’re going to be commuting in traffic daily then you’d probably be happier with the dual-clutch auto, which reduces the driver-car connection but has its own benefits over the manual.

First, the DCT can shift faster than any human, and second when it moves to a higher gear the burbling exhaust note lets out satisfying deep burps.

The official 0-100km/h acceleration time for the Turbo cars is 7.1sec for the DCT auto, and 7.7sec for the manual.

All Velosters have the same suspension tune and it’s much improved over the previous model. All Velosters have the same suspension tune and it’s much improved over the previous model.

All Velosters have the same suspension tune and it’s much improved over the previous model. MacPherson struts underpin the front while suspension in the back has been swapped from a torsion beam to multi-link set-up which has improved high-speed and cornering stability, while giving the Veloster a comfortable and composed ride.

Hyundai has done a top job in designing the driving position, too, with a low hip point, supportive seats and plenty of elbow room.

You might be wondering what visibility is like in a car with a mini-tank turret and it’s nowhere near as bad as you might think.

Hyundai has moved the A-pillars back to improve the view, but they are still a bit in the way while looking rearward, your sight obstructed by the chunky C-Pillar and small windows. But use your mirrors and the reversing camera when parking and you’ll be fine. 

That brings us to looking at how practical something like the Veloster is…

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

It’s not. Well not very practical anyway, not in the same way a Hyundai i30 is or even a Kona SUV is.

Let’s go straight to the obvious one – the three doors. A door for the driver, one for the front passenger and another on the kerb-side of the car for entry into the two seats in the second row.

The Velostar has a door for the driver, one for the front passenger and a kerb-side door for entry to the second row. The Velostar has a door for the driver, one for the front passenger and a kerb-side door for entry to the second row.

Yes, it’s quirky and different, but it’s frustrating for the those who need to climb in from the left-hand side and scoot across a hard plastic tray and cupholders in the centre to sit behind the driver.

To be fair, the aperture of the entry has been widened by 58mm, improving entry and egress and headroom in the second row has been increased, too.

At 191cm tall I can just sit behind my driving position while my hair is brushing the ceiling. Not a place I’d like to be a on a long trip, that’s for sure.

At 191cm tall I can just sit behind my driving position while my hair is brushing the ceiling. At 191cm tall I can just sit behind my driving position while my hair is brushing the ceiling.

Hyundai argues that the third door provides practicality that a two door doesn’t have, which is true, but that’s like making a T-shirt with one long sleeve and a short one just in case it’s colder than you thought outside. No, it isn’t… but I can’t think of a better analogy right now.

Did you notice that the front doors are different lengths? The driver’s door is long because the B-Pillar on that side is positioned further rearwards than the other side while the passenger door is short. This causes a few issues – the driver’s door is heavy and if you park next to somebody you might have trouble opening it far enough for you to clamber out.

Cargo capacity of the boot is 303 litres, which is about 60 litres less than the Kona’s. That isn’t terrible but check to see if your pram will fit if you have small kids.

Cargo capacity of the boot is 303 litres. Cargo capacity of the boot is 303 litres.

Actually, the Veloster is not the best choice for a family car – you need an i30 or Tucson.

But if you don’t have kids and will only occasionally ferry people around in the back, then the Veloster is far more suitable.

Cabin storage is good with two cupholders in the back, and two up front, along with slim door pockets up front, a large centre console storage bin under the centre armrest and a big hidey hole in front of the shifter.

Cabin storage is good with two cupholders in the back, and two up front. Cabin storage is good with two cupholders in the back, and two up front.

As for power outlets you’ll find a 12-volt along with two USB ports up front – a media connection and charging-only one.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

This new-gen Hyundai Veloster hasn’t been given an ANCAP assessment yet, but it’s likely the rating could be split between a four-star score for the entry grade and a five-star for the Turbo and Turbo premium.

This is because the entry car has AEB but it’s not the pedestrian detecting type which is found on the top two grades and is necessary for a five-star score.

That said, all Velosters have lane keeping assistance, while the Turbo and Turbo Premium add blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.

All Velosters have rear parking sensors, but none have front ones.

The LED headlights on the Turbo and Turbo premium are excellent. Keep this in mind if you’re thinking of the base grade and you live in a country area – its full beam headlights are nowhere near as good.

For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX mounts and two top tether anchor points in the second row.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

The new Veloster is covered by Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months for the base grade Veloster and costs $279 for the first two visits followed by $365 for the next then $459 and $279 for the fifth.

The Turbo and Turbo Premium need servicing every 10,000km or 12 months and you’ll pay $299 for the first three visits then $375 and then $299 for the fifth.

Verdict

The Veloster might not be the perfect family car with its small boot and three doors, but if you are looking for something different and sporty then the Veloster with its great driving dynamics could be the funnest reason not to buy an SUV like everybody else. 

The Turbo is the sweet spot in the Veloster range for value - the most bang for you buck, plus plenty of great features.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

 

Pricing Guides

$38,740
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$35,490
Highest Price
$41,990
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Price and features8
Design8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Practicality6
Safety8
Ownership8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$35,490

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data
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