Tom Crosby: Hyndai Veloster adds new trim, minor changes

 

The Hyundai Veloster is one of the best-looking compact hatchback coupes on the market, with a stealth third door, rising belt-line, flared wheel haunches and newly sculpted front end to include a menacing looking black grille.

Veloster’s U.S. sales dipped last year but Hyundai has begun a hefty sports marketing presence and Veloster sales increased 70 percent the first two months of this year.

To match performance to looks, Hyundai added a limited-edition (1,200 units) turbocharged Rally Edition for 2016. It joins the base Veloster, the Veloster R-Spec (our test drive) and the top-of-the-line Turbo.

Hyundai added more options for 2016 and some styling changes with the only flyspeck a distracting license plate holder in the center of the new 9-slat grille positioned below the Hyundai chrome logo. That does, however, allow a lower front fascia (5.9 inches of ground clearance) and it syncs well with the R-Spec’s lower body kit and sport-tuned suspension with higher spring rates riding on wider 18-inch tires wrapped around 10-spoke alloy wheels with painted inserts.

The suspension contributes to more road-grip confidence in handling turns along with torque vectoring but felt slightly harsh on rough surfaces at higher speeds. Our tester had no options but was equipped with a slick-shifting, short-throw, 6-speed B&M Racing manual transmission, making the R-Spec a pleasure to drive with starting line oomph and highway power bursts when downshifting.

The manual slightly reduces miles per gallon but EPA still estimates a respectable 28-mpg city/highway average. Velosters have a smallish second row door on the passenger side, requiring sliding over recessed mid-seat cupholders to sit behind the driver. Outside, the teardrop-shaped rear windows curve upward as the rear roof recedes, scrunching headroom for average sized adults beneath a glass hatchback.

Center-mounted, twin-touching rear dual chrome-tipped exhausts poke out beneath an ample sized trunk that gains space with 60-40 folding flat rear seats and space-saving tire sealant instead of a spare tire.

Inside, the cabin has a modern look, controls are easily reached and an infotainment 7-inch touchscreen is intuitive to use. Cruise control, audio and phone can be operated from the steering wheel and audio is streamed with Pandora. Bluetooth is standard.

Side-bolstered, stitched red leather seats add to the sport performance ambiance, along with R-Spec logo floor mats, black and red seat insets and exterior badging. Knick-knack spaces abound. Safety features are above average and a rearview camera is standard, although it can fuzz over in a rainstorm.

BOTTOM LINE: The R-Spec has appeal for wallet-challenged sport car wannabes.

LIKE: Price, unique looks, fuel economy, handling

DISLIKE: Tight rear seating, firm ride

FACT FILE

2016 HYUNDAI VELOSTER R-SPEC

Base price w/destination fee: $22,425 (as tested)

Curb weight: 2,877-2,932 lbs.

Wheelbase: 104.3 inches

Length: 167.3 inches

Width: 71.1 inches

Engine specs: 1.6-liter, DOHC w/VVT, turbocharger

Horsepower: 201-hp at 6,000 rpm

Torque: 195 lbs.-ft. at 1,750-4,500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

EPA rating: 25 mpg city and 33 mpg hwy

Range: 13.2-gallon tank

Performance: 0-60 in under 7 seconds

 

 

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