The new Hyundai Veloster is a quirky machine vying for the affections of young professionals. It scores well in all but one area. But more on that later.
Nowadays Hyundai is synonymous with daring design. Look at their ix35: certainly not beautiful, but bold indeed. Then you have the shapely Sonata and the classy i30. The new Veloster is a far-cry from its spiritual successor, the S Coupe of the 1990s. Not really a car worth remembering; the dreary two-door was boxy and uninspiring.
But this is something worthy of lyrical waxing. The oddball looks will polarise opinion. We sit on the positive side of the fence. Its sloping roofline and sporty silhouette appeals to the emotional side. And the three-door layout was intended to appeal to the practical. Does it work? Sort of: getting passengers in the back is much easier than with a conventional coupe. But headroom means you would have to always coax your tag-alongs into squeezing back there.
The interior is just as intriguing. Everything has an angular and edgy air – from the air-conditioning ventilation slots to the grab-handles on the driver and passenger doors. It certainly is snug, with a cockpit-like feel. The steering is contoured to fit tightly into your palms, the gearstick and switchgear are positioned in close range. Fire it up in anticipation of a truly spirited experience.
But alas. Disappointment. The normally-aspirated 1.6-litre engine under its slatted bonnet is as wheezy as a smoker visiting the gym for the first time in months. Constant shifter work is essential to keep the momentum going. Mild elevations present obstacles – and the Veloster feels like it wants to give up. This offers a natural speed limiter on the freeway. One is never tempted to push past the 120km/h mark – not that the Hyundai is keen to cross it.
But redemption comes in the form of a well-sorted chassis, crisp steering and a slick gearbox. On a weekend drive through Magaliesburg, we enjoyed the scenery at a fairly sedate pace and admired the Veloster’s fluidity, bend after bend. This was leisurely, whereas we had initially expected something a little more thrilling, based on the promising exterior.
The level of standard kit is the consolation prize here. That colour-screen interface boasts better clarity than units on some more expensive cars. You also get a reverse camera and park-distance control. The seats are clad in leather – as is the steering wheel and there is also climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Pricing is competitive too. At R259 900, the Veloster offers plenty of car – and exclusivity – for the money. But as we learned, buyers will not be able to have their Red Velvet cake and eat it.
Performance-hungry motorists will no doubt we swayed by bona fide hot hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Polo GTI and our current favourite, the Ford Fiesta ST. But if posing, rather than power is what you seek, the Veloster is worth a look.
The Technical Stuff:
Model: 2013 Hyundai Veloster
Price: R259 900
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder
Power and Torque: 103kW and 167Nm
Fuel Consumption: 9l/100km
Test Mileage: 457 Kilometres