"Practical, good looking, well equipped and fun to drive - the Hyundai Veloster is an attractive package."
What you get in the Hyundai Veloster is the Korean company's latest attempt to build a coupe without compromising practicality - and first impressions of the 2012 car are good. There's actually a lot of space inside for four adult passengers, which is great considering it's a stylish, well-proportioned car on the outside. Once you also consider the large boot and clever rear door set-up, you have a sleek coupe with the practicality of your average small family car on your hands. However, the engine line-up is disappointing and lets the car down overall, while the lack of any diesel engine will send high-mileage drivers elsewhere. Which is a shame because, with its agile handling and comfortable ride, the Veloster could easily take on the VW Scirocco and Audi TT in the hard-fought, desirable coupe market. Having said that, if you can live with the increased running costs and slightly underwhelming performance, the Veloster is a stylish alternative to its mainstream rivals. The Hyundai Veloster comes in four specifications – entry-level, Blue Drive, Sport and top-of-the-range Turbo.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
If only Hyundai had decided to fit a diesel in the Veloster, it could have had some really impressive fuel economy to add to its appeal. As a result, the stylish coupe will lose sales to the Audi TT and Scirocco in the UK on that basis alone. Perhaps Hyundai didn’t want to dilute its sporty coupe image even more by making it too economical? The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol is the same engine found in the i40 saloon and returns a disappointing 43.5mpg in fuel economy. CO2 emissions are also relatively high, too – at 148g/km road tax won’t be cheap. That said, the faster, more powerful Veloster Turbo will manage to return 47.9mpg - if driven carefully - but still chugs out slightly higher CO2 emissions of 156g/km. However, the excellent Triple Care warranty is valid for five years and includes RAC Roadside Assistance and a useful annual health check that should help keep costs down.
Interior & comfort
For a sporty coupe, the Veloster manages to strike a good balance between handling and comfortable ride. It always feels agile enough when you want to drive it fast, but remains composed and comfortable over some of the bumpiest of the UK's poorly surfaced roads. This is in part thanks to its cushioned suspension absorbing the jolts, but credit must also go to its well-bolstered sports seats, which hold you snugly in place. In the back, you get a pair of seats, accessible by a single rear door on the passenger side. Headroom is reasonable, if you take into account the sloping roof, and there's actually quite a lot of knee room – so most passengers should be able to tolerate longer journeys sat behind a tall driver.
Practicality & boot space
The inside of the Veloster is actually more spacious than the exterior's compact dimensions suggest. With the standard-fit split-fold rear seats still in place, the boot offers a generous 320 litres of space, which is marginally more than you’ll find in a Volkswagen Scirocco, but still smaller than in the Vauxhall Astra GTC. Fold down the back seats, and the capacity expands to 984 litres, which is getting near the amount of room you’ll find in a small family hatchback. However, the Veloster's real trump card comes when you need to get into the back seats – it has a single rear door on the passenger side, which enables you to get into the back without having to lever the front seats forwards, which is especially useful if you want to fit some child seats or dump shopping on a regular basis. Get in the back and you’ll immediately notice the abundant knee room, and headroom that isn’t bad considering that it has a sloping roof. In the front, the interior is well designed with plenty of flair and lots of handy storage cubbies, while equipment is generous, too.
Reliability & safety
The Veloster is still a bit too rare on UK roads to feature prominently in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but reliability should be one of Hyundai's key selling points. Hyundai itself was on the verge of claiming a top three spot in the Driver Power manufacturers rankings a couple of years ago but alas took something of a tumble in the 2013 poll, dropping from seventh to 14th. However, all Hyundai cars do feel well made and come with the company's impressive Triple Care warranty – which gives owners peace of mind for an unlimited number of miles during the first five years of ownership. That deal also includes RAC Roadside Assistance and an annual vehicle health check to make sure you get fairly trouble-free motoring. The Veloster is also very safe, having secured the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, proving particularly strong on the adult occupancy category in the even of an accident. Electronic stability control, ISOFIX child seat anchor points and six airbags are fitted as standard equipment across the range.
Engines, drive & performance
This is where the Veloster doesn’t live up to its promise. Given its sporty looks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it would be enormous fun to drive. However, even the Turbo model isn’t that fast – managing to accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds – and the standard 1.6-litre GDi petrol feels really rather sluggish. You do get plenty of grip, though, and it feels agile on winding country roads thanks to its suitably direct steering set-up. The supple suspension makes it more comfortable than the Audi TT, but the noise from its exhaust isn’t as tuned as you’d expect from a sports car. The six-speed manual gearbox is better to use than the power-sapping dual-clutch automatic version, but if you want a desirable coupe that's also good to drive, the entry-level Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4-litre TSI is a much better bet.
Price, value for money & options
Hyundai doesn’t really make any cars that aren’t good value for money, and while it can’t match the Scirocco for performance or outright build quality, it does come very well equipped and manages to undercut most of its main rivals by a substantial chunk of change. Thanks to the smartly designed rear door system, you get a lot more practicality for your money than you might at first think, plus the extensive five-year warranty should give peace of mind during the early stages of ownership. All models come fitted with alloy wheels and climate control as standard, while mid-spec Sport models add a panoramic sunroof and electric folding mirrors. Top-of-the-range Turbo models are the best equipped, with electrically adjustable seats, Bluetooth connectivity and an eight-speaker stereo as fitted as standard. Resale values on the used car market won’t be as strong as some of its rivals, but factor in the lower list price and the Veloster still looks like good value.