2012 Hyundai Veloster - First Drive
Hyundai aggressively touts the 40-mpg highway EPA ratings on several of its newest models, and the 2012 Veloster sport coupe is the latest to reach that level.
The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is hardly a conventional sport coupe, either in its tall-tail lines or its unusual three-door layout. From the driver's side, the versatile Veloster has a standard single door, but walk around to the passenger side, and you'll find a pair of smaller doors that make getting in and out of the rear easier.
The unusual styling (an approach also taken by Nissan with its Juke subcompact crossover) could be considered hip urban design, or simply a way to polarize shoppers and make the ultimate buyers feel part of a small, specialized in-group who "get" the Veloster. Either way, the coupe comes packed with features that will keep the always-connected crowd happy.
The Veloster powertrain and platform owe much to the Elantra compact sedan, including that model's electric power steering (not one of our favorites). But the retuned suspension makes it more fun to toss around corners.
The 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine can be paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or (admirably) a six-speed Dual-Clutch "automatic manual." The six-speed is exceptionally tall-geared, which delivers that key 40-mpg highway rating (along with 28 mpg city, for a combined rating of 32 mpg).
The Dual-Clutch may be more fun to drive, and it too is rated at a combined 32 mpg, though the city and highways numbers are closer to each other, at 29 and 38 mpg respectively. Real-world mileage for both cars appears to be in the range of 30 to 32 mpg.
In real-world use, the engine doesn't deliver a lot of torque at lower speeds, meaning you really have to rev it to make the Veloster overcome its gutless feel moving away from a stoplight.
Still, driving performance may not be the Veloster's reason for being. Its base price of $18,060 includes such goodies as a standard USB and iPod interface, hands-free Bluetooth voice connection for both mobile phones and audio controls, RCA inputs, and GraceNote music display.
Beyond the infotainment electronics, options include a navigation system, a gigantic panoramic sunroof, various wheel upgrades, and a 115-Volt outlet (standard on some other models, but who's counting?). A trial subscription to Hyundai's BlueLink suite of emergency and concierge services is also standard.