First drive: 2019 Hyundai Veloster launch review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 09 October 2019

Tim Nicholson takes the new Hyundai Veloster coupe for a first drive.

First impressions:

Hyundai has improved the Veloster in almost every area, but should you buy one over an i30 hatchback?

Hyundai’s oddball Veloster three-door coupe was a minor sales hit for Hyundai when it launched in early 2012, but interest dipped in the final years of its model life. The second-generation version hits showrooms this month and it’s an all-new model with new and updated powertrains, better dynamics and a lot more standard safety and comfort equipment.

Hyundai has taken an evolutionary approach with the design, building on the squat stance and proportions of the old model. As with the original, the new Veloster coupe retains the extra rear door on the passenger side, giving access to the second row. The new Veloster’s dimensions are almost exactly the same as the model it replaces.

The Korean car-maker’s signature ‘cascade’ grille dominates the front end, and despite the styling changes it is unmistakeably a Veloster.

(This is what our expert car reviewers thought of the Hyundai Kona Electric 2019, Hyundai Ioniq 2019 and Hyundai i30.)

What do you get for the price?

Pricing starts at $29,490 plus on-road costs for the entry-level Veloster 2.0L with a six-speed manual. Opting for the six-speed auto adds $2300 to the price. Stepping up to the Veloster 1.6-litre Turbo increases the price to $35,490 for the manual and $38,490 for the auto. The more generously specified Turbo Premium is $38,990 and $41,990 respectively. Turbo pricing is up a little compared with the outgoing model.

It’s hard to pinpoint direct rivals for the Veloster given it is a three-door coupe-cum-hatchback, but the Turbo has the same powertrain as the related Kia Cerato GT. Buyers might cross-shop it with small warm hatches like the upcoming Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen’s Polo GTI. 

Standard gear includes a seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, leather-appointed gear shifter, 3.5-inch TFT instrument cluster, heated exterior mirrors and single-zone climate control, while the Turbo gets a larger eight-inch screen, an eight-speaker stereo and digital radio. The Turbo Premium adds wireless phone charging, head-up display, auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated and ventilated front seats.

Hyundai Veloster interior
Interior shot of Hyundai Veloster

How safe is it?

ANCAP is yet to crash-test the new Veloster, but it is offered with six airbags, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, tyre-pressure monitoring, emergency stop signal and Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety package that includes a driver attention warning, forward-collision avoidance assist and lane-keep assist. The Turbo and Turbo Premium add a blind-spot warning, pedestrian and cyclist detection for the autonomous emergency braking system, a rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

What's it like inside?

Hyundai has completely overhauled the Veloster cabin and it’s now in keeping with other modern Hyundais, including the i30 hatch. The new infotainment system is easy to use and the dash controls are logically laid out. The base Veloster has cloth trim but the Turbo and Turbo Premium add more leather touches and matching colour flourishes throughout. There are a lot of hard plastics in the cabin and Hyundai hasn’t broken any new ground with the interior, but it all functions well. The second row has 15 millimetres more headroom than the old model but it is still cramped back there – it’s fine for kids though. The boot volume has actually dropped by 17 litres to 303 litres.

What's under the bonnet

The base Veloster swaps out the 1.6-litre unit from the old model in favour of a 2.0-litre 110kW and 180Nm four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. It comes with a six-speed manual or auto and like all Velosters it drives the front wheels only. The Turbo uses Hyundai’s familiar 1.6-litre turbo petrol unit pumping out 150kW and 265Nm, which increases to 275Nm if you engage the overboost function. It’s offered with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo interior
Hyundai Veloster Turbo rear view

Is it efficient?

The 2.0L base Veloster consumes 7.0 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres in manual guise, while the auto sips 7.1. This is slightly more efficient than the 2.0-litre Hyundai i30 auto that drinks 7.4 litres. The Turbo manual uses 7.3 litres and the auto 6.9.

How does it drive?

Hyundai’s local engineering team has once again tweaked the Veloster’s suspension and steering setup to ensure it is better suited to Australian conditions. As a result the Veloster has a much more compliant ride than the outgoing model. It is also more nimble and dynamically capable. The 2.0-litre Veloster lacks the punch to really call itself a sports car, but the Turbo has lost some of the lag of the previous version and is a much more sprightly performer.

Should I buy one?

We question the value of the base Veloster given you can get a much more practical five-door Hyundai i30 Elite with essentially the same engine slightly cheaper. The Turbo, however, is a much more capable performer than the old Veloster and is now a genuine competitor to some popular warm hatches. If you don’t need four or five doors and you love the styling, the Turbo is the pick.