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Hyundai Veloster 2020 review: Turbo Premium long term

Is Hyundai's oddball Veloster hatch right for a young couple in an Australian capital city?

Daily driver score

3.9/5

Urban score

4/5

It’s safe to say that my little family of two is in the target market for Hyundai’s Veloster.

Young salaried professionals at a life stage where they could perhaps be considering their first brand new vehicle, with no family extension plans, at least for the time being.

My partner, incidentally, is also considering replacing her first-generation 2008 Hyundai i30 which has been a great little workhorse for us for over six years.

What better time to test out Hyundai’s latest and greatest youth-focused offering?

This Hyundai Veloster joins us for three months in top-spec Turbo Premium guise, so we can figure out what it’s like to live with this odd little hatch – one that Australia is lucky to get at all.

Will it suit us in our capital city life? Read on to find out.

Part 1: May 18, 2020

The Veloster offered to us was ridiculous. Brand-new (seriously, with 94km on the odometer at pick up, we’d be responsible for running it in) and in a neon shade of yellow, there would be no missing our car in the unit-block car park.

The Veloster has an odd three-door layout, with one coupe-like giant door on the driver’s side and two hatch-like doors on the passenger side.

This is especially notable as Hyundai went to the effort to mirror the entire body-shell for the Australian market, as the Veloster is for predominantly left-hand drive markets.

Initial impressions of the interior are good, too. This top-spec Turbo Premium trim has heated and ventilated leather seats, a heated steering wheel and a panoramic sunroof to go with its over-the-top street appeal.

Immediately familiar is the set-up of all the common Hyundai features, like the leather bound multi-function wheel, which I have been a fan of since it first appeared in the current-generation i30, and the slick-as-ever multimedia suite which is excellent in its operation and connectivity.

The 7.0-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 7.0-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Other wow-factor features include the wireless charging bay and LED headlights, which should come in handy on some of Australia’s poorly lit roads.

Initial impressions were that, while the Veloster is as easy to set up as the i30, visibility isn’t as good out the back (with the Veloster’s tiny rear window), and that the brand has put some effort to make the interior almost as interesting as the exterior.

It’s missing some of the panache of the i30, but makes up for it with character. Little details like the chequered flag pattern etched into the dash, and an abundance of different textures and colours mix it up, mostly for the better.

The following few weeks of Veloster ownership revealed some small issues. Our unit parking spot is very narrow, so the large driver’s door is tricky to open. Then there's the fact that we have a pylon next to our spot that blocks the only rear passenger door. Annoying. It’s a minor livability issue which will influence your choice of parking spot every time you go to a supermarket car park.

The seating position is enhanced by the Veloster’s bucket seats. The seating position is enhanced by the Veloster’s bucket seats.

Our driving experience has been full of comparisons, as we've also had direct competitors – the Kia Cerato GT sedan and Honda Civic VTi-S hatch in the garage in the first month.

The Veloster has so far proved to be sporty, but still somehow more forgiving than its Kia Cerato cousin. The steering is firm, artificially so (with a sportier feel imposed by the electric assistance), but nowhere near as noticeable as in the Cerato. The same goes for the suspension, which is not as soft as an i30, but not as firm as the Cerato in GT trim.

The seating position is enhanced by the Veloster’s bucket seats which it gets over the i30, but you still sat much higher in the Hyundai hatch compared to the Honda Civic, which really takes the cake for a low, sporty seating position in this segment.

Thankfully, performance-wise the Veloster is on-par with the Cerato GT (which makes sense as it shares much of its drivetrain) but far better than the Civic’s, especially in the 1.8-litre CVT guise we tested.

The 1.6-litre turbo four cylinder produces 150kW/265Nm. The 1.6-litre turbo four cylinder produces 150kW/265Nm.

My partner agrees for the most part, saying she prefers the handling of the Civic, adding the lane keep assistance in the Veloster is annoyingly overactive, even inaccurate at times. Otherwise she describes it as a nice controlled drive.

She finds it tough to find the right seating position, though. As a short person (155cm), she says it's hard to get the seat high enough without also being too far forward. The holographic display is particularly difficult for her to see and she reckons the car could do with front parking sensors as she can’t see as far over the dash as I can.

She loves the design though, telling me it’s not just the ridiculous colour, but the funky hatch look that she finds more appealing, even more so than the Civic.

Finally, and certainly on our list of considerations given that we may be considering a new hatch in the near future, is the price.

The Veloster has an odd three-door layout, with one coupe-like giant door on the driver’s side and two hatch-like doors on the passenger side. The Veloster has an odd three-door layout, with one coupe-like giant door on the driver’s side and two hatch-like doors on the passenger side.

I was a bit taken aback by this car’s MSRP. $42,410! I know it cost Hyundai a lot to bring it here, but that’s only $500-ish off the price of an i30N (which, to be fair, is still manual-only at the time of writing).

I know which Korean hatchback I would rather have in my unit parking spot… There are other things to consider, too. Like, the fact you can get the same powertrain at a near $10,000 discount in the Kia Cerato GT, or Hyundai i30 N-Line, both of which offer a more practical body.

Our first month of testing consisting 577km of mostly urban driving had the Veloster using 8.4L/100km against its claimed combined cycle figure of 6.9L/100km. We’ll chalk that up as not bad at all.

Stay tuned for our next instalment, where we’ll test out its boot capacity, odd rear seats, and draw some more comparisons.

Distance travelled this month: 577km

Odometer: 675km

Average fuel consumption: 8.4L/100km

Part 2: June 2020

In our second month with the Veloster, as the Coronavirus restrictions eased up in our home state of NSW, we found some extra time to road trip the little hatch southward along the coast from Sydney on more than one occasion.

It’s on longer journeys (like the two-and-a-half-hour trek to Jervis Bay from Sydney’s norther suburbs) where items like adaptive cruise control, and the relative comfort of the Veloster start to shine. It’s more or less a set and forget feature, and the four-tier distance control is user friendly.

While the front sports seats remained comfortable after three or more hours behind the wheel, some areas were not as good. I was not a fan of the harsh material on the doorcards and centre console which chips away at your elbow comfort over time.

The front sports seats remained comfortable after three or more hours behind the wheel. The front sports seats remained comfortable after three or more hours behind the wheel.

For a coastal blast, the Veloster can be as fun on the inside as it is to look at. Thanks to its huge front windows and panoramic glass roof, you can really open the cabin up for an almost convertible-like feel. Fantastic for cruising down the twisting roads of the Royal National Park south of Sydney, as we took the scenic route out of the metropolis.

We had both become used to the Veloster’s abundance of ‘warm hatch’ power and tasteful exhaust note at the whim of your right foot, with my partner commenting that less powerful cars just no longer cut it.

Even some hard-to-impress friends were taken aback at the Veloster’s straight-line attitude, exclaiming that the bark really does match the bite in this case. This didn’t stop them from balking at the price, however.

Even some hard-to-impress friends were taken aback at the Veloster’s straight-line attitude. Even some hard-to-impress friends were taken aback at the Veloster’s straight-line attitude.

We’d also become accustomed to its ride, which on the whole is great. A little doughier than some VW Group products, perhaps even Honda’s Civic, but also firm enough to be nice to pitch into corners.

The compliance has its limits though, and we found several potholes that were simply too much for the Veloster’s low-travel suspension to handle (not helped by the low-profile rubber), sending jolts through the cabin.

Comfortable, but not at an SUV level, sporty but not as brutal as a hot hatch. A good balance? Yes. If nothing else, it's a great palette cleanser to compare to the weekly test cars revolving through my garage.

Rear passengers though, are not as well treated. For a laugh, a well-over-six-foot friend of mine hopped in the back seat and ended up scrunched up like a scared huntsman behind my driving position. “How do you get to the other side?” he said. The audience laughed. Even I have trouble getting my legs on to the non-door side.

There are also no adjustable air vents back there, and the seating is slightly stadium (meaning it is raised above the front seats) so there is simply nowhere near as much headroom for adults.

  • Computer-reported fuel consumption dropped to 5.9L/100km. Computer-reported fuel consumption dropped to 5.9L/100km.
  • The overall consumption has dropped to 7.2L/100km from last month’s 8.4L/100km.
The overall consumption has dropped to 7.2L/100km from last month’s 8.4L/100km.

With a bunch of freeway journeys now under the Veloster’s belt, the fuel consumption situation has improved markedly. Dropping as low as a computer-reported 5.9L/100km on our longer trips, the overall consumption has dropped to 7.2L/100km from last month’s 8.4L/100km.

Acquired: March 2020

Distance travelled this month: 844km

Odometer: 1515km

Average fuel consumption: 7.2L/100km

Part 3: July 2020

In our last month with the yellow hatch it assumed main duties on our daily commute. I decided I could rack up a few extra kilometres behind the wheel taking my partner to work, which involved a mix of traffic and some good roads around Sydney’s North Shore.

We had both become very adjusted to the Veloster’s ease of use. Nothing in it presented small annoyances, with the radio and essential tech, like CarPlay, being fuss-free to use every day. We liked that one of us could use the CarPlay connectivity and cabled charger, while the other could use the wireless pad to top up our phone battery.

Thing’s I’d come to miss after the Veloster’s departure included keyless entry and push-start ignition, great for those little trips where you just need to hop out of the car for a second and come right back without needing to fumble with the key.

Driving-wise the Veloster is great in traffic with its abundance of tech serving us well for those times when you hop on the freeway, or need to be aware of your blind spots when trying to get three lanes over in traffic. It has to be said that even if you're not a fan of using navigation through your phone, Hyundai's built-in nav is stellar for lane guidance and warning you of upcoming exits and turns.

Hyundai's built-in sat nav is stellar. Hyundai's built-in sat nav is stellar.

Also notable was the dual-clutch automatic transmission. What is often a glitchy and annoying technology to use in slow-moving scenarios turned out to be as effortless as a regular torque-converter auto. Sure, Hyundai’s version of the tech is not quite as lighting fast on the shifts as it is in VW Group competitors, but it is smooth and rarely makes a misstep when it comes to cornering or shuffling in low-speed traffic.

The dual-clutch automatic transmission is smooth and rarely makes a misstep when it comes to cornering. The dual-clutch automatic transmission is smooth and rarely makes a misstep when it comes to cornering.

While the front two seats get by for cabin storage, there are still various small things which got on our nerves. When it comes to putting items in the back seat, you have to remember what side the door is on as not to park it in such a way that you can’t get it open (which for us meant starting the car and shifting it forward slightly often), and the boot has a very high lip, meaning heavier objects really have to be lifted over to get them in. A minor but notable issue was how small the glovebox is. It won’t even fit the manual, which spent the entire three-month test period in the door binnacle…

The glovebox isn't able to fit the manual, which spent the entire three-month test period in the door binnacle. The glovebox isn't able to fit the manual, which spent the entire three-month test period in the door binnacle.

Minor annoyances aside, the Veloster’s tight dimensions make it easy to park and zip through traffic in and, as always, the low ride-height and seating position make for a much more compelling daily drive than the upright dimensions of an SUV.

Finally, with some daily urban travel added to the Veloster’s total mileage, the overall computer-reported fuel consumption inched up slightly to 7.8L/100km. An impressive score only 0.9L/100km out from the Veloster’s official combined figure, and one we’d be more than happy to live with given its spritely warm hatch performance.

The overall computer-reported fuel consumption recorded 7.8L/100km. The overall computer-reported fuel consumption recorded 7.8L/100km.

After three months behind the wheel, and 1930 kilometres travelled my partner and I were both sad to see the yellow blob go, and I’ve had friends and family lament that they missed seeing it turn up to events.

Ultimately, the Veloster Turbo Premium’s tall MSRP ($42,410) would not make it a sensible choice for us over, say, an i30 Premium or N Line auto, both of which are more than $10,000 cheaper.

After three months behind the wheel, my partner and I were both sad to see the yellow blob go. After three months behind the wheel, my partner and I were both sad to see the yellow blob go.

If money were less of an object though, would picking the Veloster be the wrong choice?

No way. Despite a handful of practicality shortcomings, the Veloster Turbo is a fun, easy to use, and complete package with a side of warm hatch attitude to boot.

Acquired: March 2020

Distance travelled this month: 509km

Odometer: 2024km

Average fuel consumption: 7.8L/100km

$26,990 - $41,990

Based on 25 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.9/5

Urban score

4/5