It is hard to remember a new car hitting the market that has created more inquiries for me than the Hyundai Veloster.
For those who are curious, it is pronounced vel-ah-ster. I cannot find any evidence that the word actually means anything, but the car certainly does. The official name of my evaluation car is the 2012 Hyundai Veloster Ecoshift DCT.
Veloster is one of the best-looking small cars on the market. This model has the Style package, which gives you 18” alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, chrome grill, and a few other little items. The lines of this car are super, with a sloping roofline and a wide stance. A pair of fake hood scoops and some graphics down the side make this century white Hyundai look like it is right out of the movie Fast and Furious.
Under the hood, there is a 1.6-liter dual overhead cam 4-cylinder engine that puts out 138-horses. Stop laughing. I mean it, stop laughing. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but there is a secret weapon. It is called a dual clutch transmission, thus the DCT in the name of the car. The transmission is designed for fuel-efficiency and maximum power, which makes the car feel like it has more horsepower than it does.
The DCT design uses two dry clutches to eliminate the engine efficiency drain from a wet clutch’s hydraulic pump, with one clutch controlling gears 1, 3 and 5 and the other engaging gears 2, 4, 6 and reverse. The clutch actuators are electric to lighten weight and improve efficiency. The whole transmission weighs 167 pounds without fluid, which Hyundai says is lighter than the car’s six-speed manual transmission or the company’s other six-speed automatics. The DCT has an Active Eco button on the dash, which modifies the transmission and engine control mapping to boost fuel economy. In the real world it simply feels like it’s holding the transmission in a higher gear longer, for better fuel economy.
Inside the car you find a nice interior with a lot of black and brushed aluminum, somewhat reminiscent of a Mini Cooper. The seats are comfortable and there is a decent amount of room for two passengers in the back seat provided they are under 6-feet tall. There is a nice amount of cargo room when the hatchback is opened.
I have been telling listeners for over a year now that coming to America were some small cars that had nice options, more like a luxury car. The Veloster is a prime example of that. Look at this list of items on this car: Navigation system, Blue Tooth, mp3 player, satellite radio, rearview camera, automatic LED headlights, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, steering wheel controls, paddle shifters, iPod jack, and a 115-volt plug so you can blow dry your hair going down the road.
Most everything runs from a 7” color monitor mounted in the dash that is all controlled with your finger. The navigation system is easy to operate and features Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics, their version of Onstar, only it is operated from an app on your smartphone. In addition to emergency assist, you can locate your car if stolen or misplaced, lock and unlock your car, get service updates and recalls, it will even remotely start your call. All that from your phone.
There is also a fun screen called Blue Max that is a game of sorts to see how economically you can drive. You can try to beat your own record in 10-minute intervals and you play against other drivers all over the country to compete for prizes from Hyundai. I find myself trying to beat my old record all the time, and driving unusually easy, which is why I am beating the EPA estimated fuel economy.
Veloster handles well, but rides a little rougher than some of the other cars I’ve driven lately like the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic. It is not a bad ride by any means, but you do tend to feel a lot of the road. The only serious knock on the car is road noise, but I admit to being hyper-sensitive about that. It is pretty loud inside.
We are going to see a lot more small, fun, fuel-efficient cars coming our way. There is just no doubt in my mind that the Hyundai Veloster is going to be one of the most popular given all you get for the money, plus Hyundai’s famous 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
- What I liked most: The level of available options usually found on more expensive cars.
- What I would change: Heavier insulation to dampen outside noise.
- MSRP: $22550. Base price $18550.
- Fuel Economy: Rated at 29 city and 38 highway. Actual 30/39.
- 2012 Hyundai Veloster in a few words: Fun to drive, easy on the pocketbook.