By Derek Price
Equal parts practical, fun and funky, the asymmetrical Hyundai Veloster gets an all-new design for 2019.
It returns with its same oddball layout — a long, coupe-like door on the left side and two stubby, sedan-like doors on the right — while adding a lot more satisfaction for the driver.
The driving enhancements were instantly apparent in my Veloster Turbo tester with the most powerful (for now) engine in the lineup, a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes a meaty 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.
The high-performance Veloster N, with a ridiculous 275 horsepower and track-tuned suspension, is expected later this year.
Still, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had from the Turbo model already available at your local Hyundai dealer. It’s rewarding enough that maybe, just maybe, people shopping for a Honda Civic Si or Volkswagen GTI should give it a look, if they can put brand loyalty aside.
With a precise feeling dual-clutch transmission, ample grip in corners, firm handling and high-feedback steering, the Veloster Turbo is the kind of car that could help build loyalty among enthusiasts. It’s legit.
People shopping for more practical reasons will find a lot to love about the Veloster, too, including on the base model. It comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both easy to use on the 7-inch standard display, and is powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes a respectable 147 horsepower.
Available tech upgrades include a bigger 8-inch display, satellite radio, wireless charging for smartphones in the center console and a premium Infinity sound system with a subwoofer and brains that make compressed digital music sound better.
Keeping with the times, the 2019 Veloster includes standard forward collision warning assist and lane keep assist that gently tugs the steering wheel toward the center of the lane.
My favorite thing about the Veloster, though, is what people find most polarizing about it: the unusual door layout.
On the driver’s side, the Veloster looks like a coupe, with a wide-swinging door that makes it simple for the driver to slide into the low-slung, sporty-looking car.
On the passenger side, the two narrow doors provide ease of entry to the back seat, much like a sedan. It’s a best-of-both-worlds approach that allows for the sleek, sexy look of a coupe with the kid-friendly packaging of a sedan.
Two things I wish were better are the back seat roominess and storage capacity in the rear cargo area. Both are compromised to create the Veloster’s signature, sloping look — the price you must pay to keep it from looking bulbous or boxy.
The sporty styling with narrow back windows also hurts rear visibility. Fortunately, the Veloster comes standard with a great rearview camera that uses dynamic guidelines to show where the car will be moving as you back up.
Pricing starts at $18,500 for the base model with a manual transmission, something I didn’t get to experience but think would be fantastic in a fun car like this. An automatic starts at $19,500, or $22,750 for the upmarket Premium trim.
The Turbo starts at $22,900 for the manual-transmission R-Spec — the version I’d be most tempted to buy — and ranges up to $28,150 for the Ultimate trim with the slick and quick dual-clutch transmission.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2019 Hyundai Veloster Ultimate ($26,650). Options: 7-speed dual-clutch transmission ($1,500), carpeted floor mats ($125). Price as tested (including $920 destination charge): $29,195
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
Length: 166.9 in.
Width: 70.9 in.
Height: 55.1 in.
Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder (201 hp, 195 ft. lbs.)
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Fuel economy: 28 city, 34 highway
Why buy it?
It offers spunky styling, efficiency, practicality and outstanding driving dynamics after a total redesign for 2019.