"Practical, good looking, well equipped and fun to drive - the Veloster is an attractive package."
The Hyundai Veloster arrived in 2012 and is the Korean company's latest attempt to build a coupe without compromise - and first impressions are good. It's a stylish, well-proportioned sports car with plenty of space for four adults inside. Factor in the large boot and handy rear door, and you’ve got a sleek coupe with the practicality of your average small family car. However, the disappointing engine line up holds the Veloster back, and the lack of a diesel option will put off high-mileage drivers. It's a shame, because given its agile handling and comfortable ride, the Veloster could easily challenge the VW Scirocco and Audi TT in the hard-fought, desirable coupe market. That said, if you can live with the increased running costs and slightly lacklustre performance, the Veloster is a stylish alternative to the mainstream.
Given the Hyundai Veloster's sporty looks, you’d imagine it’d be a smile-a-minute to drive. However, even the Turbo model isn’t especially fast – managing to go from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds – and the standard 1.6 GDi petrol is really rather sluggish. That said, there's plenty of grip and it feels agile on a twisty back road thanks to the direct steering setup. It's more comfortable than an Audi TT because of the supple suspension, but the exhaust noise is a bit lacklustre considering it's a sports car. The six-speed manual is nicer to use than the power-sapping dual-clutch automatic, but if you want a desirable coupe that's also good to drive, the entry-level Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI is a far better bet.
Unlike many sporty coupes, the Hyundai Veloster finds a good balance between ride and handling. It feels agile enough when you want to drive fast, yet is composed and comfortable over some of the bumpiest, most rutted roads. This is in part thanks to the cushioned suspension, but also down to the well-bolstered sports seats. In the back there's a pair of seats, accessible by a single rear door on the passenger side. Headroom is acceptable given the sloping roof, and there's actually plenty of knee room – so even adults should be able to tolerate longer journeys behind a tall driver.
Reliability should be one of Hyundai's key selling points. All cars feel well made and come with the company's impressive Triple Care warranty – giving owners peace of mind for an unlimited number of miles during the first five years. That package also includes RAC Roadside Assistance and an annual vehicle health check to ensure trouble-free motoring. Hyundai ticks the safety box, too, with the Veloster being awarded a full five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating for adult occupants in the event of an accident. Electronic stability control and six airbags are standard across the range.
The Hyundai Veloster's compact exterior dimensions actually hide a rather practical interior space. The large 320-litre boot is marginally bigger than a VW Scirocco but smaller than a Vauxhall Astra GTC. However, lower the split-fold rear seats and you’ll reveal an area similar to a small family hatchback. The Veloster's trump card is revealed when you need to access the back seats. Thanks to a single rear door on the passenger side, you can get into the back without levering the front seats forward – particularly useful if you need to fit child seats or dump shopping on a regular basis. Take a seat and you’ll notice there's lots of knee room, and headroom isn’t bad considering the sloping roof. Up front, the cabin is well designed with plenty of flair and loads of useful cubbies, while equipment is generous, too.
Value for money
As you’d expect with Hyundai, the Veloster is great value for money. Although it can’t match the VW Scirocco for build quality or pace, it comes well equipped and undercuts all its main rivals by several hundred pounds. Its cleverly designed rear door means it offers increased practicality, and the extensive five-year warranty should give peace of mind during the early stages of ownership. All cars come with alloy wheels and climate control, while mid-spec Sport models add a panoramic sunroof and electric folding mirrors. Top-spec Turbo models are the best equipped, though, with electrically adjustable seats and an eight speaker stereo.
It's a shame Hyundai has so far decided not to fit a diesel engine to the Veloster. As a result, the stylish coupe will lose sales to the oil-burning Audi TT and VW Scirocco in the UK. The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol is the same engine found in the i40 saloon and returns a mediocre 43.5mpg. CO2 emissions are relatively high, too, at 148g/km. That said, the faster, more powerful Veloster Turbo will do 47.9mpg if driven carefully, but produces slightly higher emissions of 156g/km. However, the comprehensive Triple Care warranty is valid for five years and includes RAC Roadside Assistance and a useful annual health check. Used values won’t be as strong as its rivals, but factor in the lower list price and the Veloster still looks good value.