Let's begin with the concept of this car - the asymetrical configuration of the door is utterly odd. On the driver's side, you get an elongated door just like a coupe, and on the other, 2 doors. One in the front, one in the back. This is to give the Veloster 'dual personality', where the 10 year old in an individual seeking for a sporty coupe is matched with everyday practicality needed by everyone.
The problem is, the number '3' has not worked out well for automobiles. 3 wheels for example, the Reliant Robin was revolutionary! - At first. Then people started realising that it won't take corners. Same goes to 3 doors, it looks odd. It looks, unbalanced somehow. But after 3 days spending time with it, it grew on us.
The general idea is - Korean cars are cheaply made and not exquisite to behold. Back then, they felt cheap because they WERE cheap. These days the Koreans are logging heads with the Japs, fighting for product reliability and quality. Exhibit A, the Hyundai Veloster - feels more expensive to be in than what it cost.
Hyundai first revealed the concept in 2007. Codenamed the HND-3 concept, it took the company over 3 years to actually put it to production. Why? Why did it take them so long to put into production?
The idea is absolutely brilliant. The massive door means that its easy for the driver to get in and out, it looks quite the part and yes, it's practical. We'll get to that.
The Drive - 7/10
Firstly, the 1.6 litre engine produces 132ps and 158nm. We have to admit, although the product breif says 80% of the torque is available at 1500rpm, the car feels a little lacking. It is a little defeated by hills. Zerotohundred sprint takes a shy below 9 seconds (as tested), so; theres enough poke to go with the styling but we reckon the turbo version would make the drive a lot more engaging.
As tested, the Veloster came with a manual gearbox. The basic problem is that youngsters these days would prefer an automatic to a manual, but a manual would always give a more engaging drive. There shouldn't be much to complain as the clutch is light, and the shifter is smooth and enjoyable. We reckon, to enjoy the Veloster more of the time, it has to be in manual form due to the lack of torque but if you insists on an automatic, there is a CVT option with paddle shifters.
Handling wise, is rather impressive. Although the steering feels a little numb, it is rather forgiving. Most cars in this class range would suffer from delirious understeer, but the Veloster copes with corners very well. There is significant amount of front-end grip, but due to the suspension setup of the rear, the back fancies to let go at times. The sensation of having a skittish back-side may sound scary, but here, it actually makes the car a little more lively - which is a good thing!
Driving position is quite admirable. The driver's seat can be moved upwards or downwards, to fit many different drivers. Of course to feel racier, one could have it all the way down. Visibility of the surrounding is quite questionable however, particularly in the back, due to the low roofline and glass. But we're nit picking really. The floor mounted throttle paddle was a nice touch by Hyundai, giving the driver a little more comfort while driving.
The Looks - 7/10
If I was a teenager looking for a first car, i'll be looking for something that could turn heads. So to test out this theory, we took it down to Taylor's Lakeside campus to see if it appeals to the target market it's trying to acquire. Parked it for about 5 minutes in front of Starbucks and watched the crowd.
Verdict - the looks is spot on. It seems to turn heads very easily, as people start to wonder what car it is. Most of them thought it was a Megane; which we can't penalise them for thinking it is. Because upon closer inspection, we found that the styling cues seemed to be borrowed from a couple of cars. The rear certainly looks like a Megane, if you're anal enough, you'll notice that the roofline looks a little like the Nissan GTR and the front has some resemblance from the Citroen DS3. But is it a bad thing though?
These are very good looking cars, and combining the looks has proven a success with the simple fact that it turns heads. We certainly love the centerised exhausts at the back, giving the Veloster a sporty look. Don't despair over the 3 door concept, as it will grow on you eventually.
The Interior - 8/10
To appeal this car to the youngsters, Hyundai has fiddled with establishing the needs of an average teenager in a car. This move has made the interior a rather pleasant place to be in.
Entering for the first time, you'll notice that there is a small little resistive touchscreen on the centre console of the car. We think that is just brilliant. The material used for the dashboard is sublime for its class, giving a touch of euro feel. It comes with 2-tone leather seats which is an absolutely cool touch. They don't ideally hug you very well, but they're comfortable to sit in, which makes everyday driving comfortable and joyous.
Over the period we had the car, we never found it dull or boring to drive in. The Veloster comes with keyless go, with a push start button. The sound system is acceptable, although it could use a little more bass boost. It comes with iPod and USB connectivity, which is exactly what most people need these days. Especially the Veloster's target market in mind.
Just for kicks, there's a little game called "Blue Max". What it does is it keeps scores of how economical you've been driving in a period of 10 minutes. The lighter you are on the throttle, the more economical you'd be - therefore the higher you get to score. We scored 28,713 in the game, with a mixture of highway and traffic, which we reckon seems pretty good.
The rear headroom may be a little difficult for people above 5ft7" but, theres sufficient legroom and a relatively big boot for its size. With the seats folded down, you could fit even a mountain bike in it! ~
The Verdict - 22/30
Yes, the Veloster is well made, and comes with a very interesting look. It is very easy to live with and the interior is very welcoming.
It handles pretty well, but it could really use a little more torque. We reckon the turbocharged version would simply cure this lust for power and torque. Because of the lack of torque, its not as economical or eco-friendly as a Honda CRZ, but with the target market in mind, it will appeal easily to the teenagers looking for a first car.
The Hyundai Veloster comes with 5 years warranty (or 300,000kms) for RM116,901.50 (otr inclusive of insurance*).