The 2013 Hyundai Veloster is a sporty coupe, in just its second year on the market, that aims at younger, always-connected types who want a racy look and feel without all the compromises of an actual sports car.
That means it has a distinctive, curiously asymmetrical body, with a large door on the driver's side and two smaller ones on the passenger side. This may sound impractical at first, but it helps with cargo loading or wedging passengers into the back seat. It also means front and back-seat passengers can step safely out onto the curb, rather than into the flow of traffic.
While the Veloster's cabin is spacious and airy from the front seat, the back seats are definitely just for kids--or very short occupants--with extremely limited headroom. Rear seats are best folded down, where the seat backs form a flat cargo surface; the hatch opens wide, although there's a high liftover at the back.
All models use a 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine from the smaller Accent, with the option of a turbocharged model for a little extra zing. The latter develops 201 horsepower and features a few styling enhancements to mark it out from its lesser sibling. A six-speed manual is standard, but Hyundai also offers a brand-new Dual Clutch (DCT) automated manual transmission.
Official MPG figures have been the subject of much debate in recent months. The 2012-2013 Veloster is one of several Hyundai and Kia vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers. The EPA has tested both 2012 and 2013 models, and lowered its gas-mileage ratings accordingly. The most efficient model is the base 1.6-liter with the dual-clutch auto gearbox. This achieves 28 mpg city and 37 highway, for a combined rating of 31 mpg. The manual gets the same combined rating, but while its highway rating is also the same, the city number is a slightly lower 27 mpg. The best mileage achieved by the turbo model comes from the manual gearbox, which is rated at 28 mpg combined.
None of those figures match the 40 mpg highway about which Hyundai boasted before the EPA ratings debacle. Nor do they match the 37-mpg combined rating (36 mpg city, 39 highway) of the Veloster's nearest rival--the equally striking 2013 Honda CR-Z two-seat hybrid coupe.
Matching its sporty looks, the Veloster's handling is good. Very good, in fact. The coupe displays impressive grip and poise, though its steering could use better weighting and more road feel and the engine is sorely lacking in low-rpm torque—which some might consider a more serious issue. Provided you keep the revs up, the Veloster shows off its perkier personality.
tandard items include a 7-inch touch-screen interface, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, built-in Gracenote display technology, and a USB port to connect and access iPod media via voice controls. XM NavWeather and other data services are included with a premium sound system, as are a rearview camera and backup warning system, and navigation, push-button start, and a 110-Volt outlet are included if you get a fully loaded Tech Package Veloster. Even then, non-turbo Veloster with almost every option totals less than $23,000.
The less fuel-efficient Veloster Turbo carries a higher base price--more than $22,000--and brings with it with a raft of added standard equipment. It includes heated front seats, leather upholstery, a 450-watt sound system, and BlueLink, Hyundai's mobile-app and connectivity suite, which enables audio streaming and voice control over some systems.
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