2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Review - Hyundai Brings the Funk

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Ultimate

1.6-liter turbocharged four (201 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm)
Seven-speed dual clutch transmission, front wheel drive
28 city / 34 highway / 30 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
8.5 city / 6.9 highway / 7.8 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
31.1 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $29,035 US / $32,231 CAD
As Tested: $29,160 US / $32,412 CAD
Prices include $885 destination charge in the United States and $1,705 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2019 hyundai veloster turbo review hyundai brings the funk

Hyundai turned itself into a successful brand by building sensible, reliable cars and crossovers that match up nicely with the competition. Where rival carmakers have a product, Hyundai has a very similar alternative. Making a sale by imitating the class leaders is generally a winning strategy.

And then you have the 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo – a car that really has no similar rival. No other automaker offers an asymmetrical three-door, sloped-rear-light hatchback. No matter how functional it is or how well it drives, all conversations about the Veloster start with its funky layout.

Of course, what differentiates the Veloster from a more traditional hatchback are, for me, the big drawbacks. The asymmetrical door arrangement led to a pair of sisters climbing over one another to exit via the single rear door, and that sloping roof cuts down on rear headroom. Every time I drove over a speed bump, my five foot six eldest bashed her skull on the headliner.

Some of that headroom deficit may lie at the feet of the panoramic sunroof. The wide expanse of glass is nice, should one want a bit more airflow, but it cuts into the head space. Further, I was annoyed by a lack of body rigidity seemingly amplified by the gaping glass hole, as I noted a good number of squeaks, creaks, and rattles above my head, especially when driving spiritedly.

That’s a shame, because the 201 horsepower 1.6 liter turbocharged four practically begs you to go play. Power delivery is excellent, with minimal turbo lag – the full complement of 195 pound/feet of torque is available at 1,500 rpm. The seven-speed dual clutch transmission works well enough, though downshifts can be somewhat sluggish when trying to hustle on that deserted twisty road down by the river.

I beg you, however. If you do take the plunge on a Veloster of your own, make it a manual. While not Miata-perfect, the Hyundai six-speed manual pairs perfectly with this engine, making a very good car even more enjoyable.

Handling from the short-wheelbase Veloster is superb. While never quite straying into the oversteer category, the multi-link rear suspension (shared with the Elantra GT Sport I so adored last year) is happy to rotate when asked. My only note is an unusually strong self-centering action to the steering. It often feels as if the steering wheel is pulling you back to straight with more gusto than in most cars. My guess is the Veloster is designed to be aligned with more caster than the similar Elantra, to aid stability on interstate drives.

While my rear seat passengers complained about bopping their noggins, they were otherwise comfortable, and welcomed the convenient center-mounted cupholders. That plastic console does mean this is a car limited to four passengers, rather than five.

I love that Hyundai offers something more interesting than a typical black or charcoal interior – the off-white leather looks wonderful and brightens up the entire cabin. I’d be wary of how long it stays looking nice, of course. The asymmetry on the exterior continues inside, with differently colored sides of the dashboard and door panels. It’s one of those things that strikes you at first, but quickly fades into the background after a few days of living with the car.

Were I to sign a note on a Veloster Turbo – and not the Veloster N, which is an entirely different monster – I’d play right into my thrifty nature and specify the Turbo R-Spec. I’d lose the sunroof, heated seats, rain sensing wipers, leather, navigation, active cruise control, power lumbar support, and wireless cell charging, but I’d save nearly six thousand dollars. I’d miss the active cruise and wireless charger, but I’d have a car that fits me so much better. And it’s only available with the six-speed manual.

Make mine Sunset Orange.

Really, though, the Veloster Turbo is not the right fit for my family or my lifestyle. I need a bit more headroom and cargo space – I’m hauling kids everywhere all the time, it seems. But if you can live with the baked-in quirks – really, if you love those quirks simply because they are the essence of Veloster – than this funky warm hatch is a great choice.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC, screenshot via http://hyundaiusa.com]

Join the conversation
3 of 21 comments
  • Doug Dolde Doug Dolde on Apr 20, 2019

    I would not eat Kimchee if it were given to me, Same with gook cars

  • Raevoxx Raevoxx on Apr 23, 2019

    I own a 2018 Elantra GT Sport, fully loaded, and I just traded my 2017 Elantra Value Edition sedan for a 2019 Elantra GT N-Line, also loaded. In addition, I test drove the Veloster Turbo Ultimate. All of these vehicles, with the DCT. I had my heart set on an Elantra Sport sedan, but because of "reasons" I got the Value Edition. Then the Elantra GT Sport came out, and I changed my mind. Then I drove the Veloster Turbo when IT came out, and changed my mind yet again. Though for a short time, before going back and forth between the Elantra Sport and the GT Sport/N-Line The Veloster is a hoot. It's fun, it's funky, and I love it. Even though it's just me and my partner, with no kids, it still ended up missing the mark and didn't end up being the "right" car for me. Here's why, and why I ultimately chose the GT N-Line over the Sport sedan (17-18, the 19 facelift is a huge miss): The Veloster's armrest is adequate for one person. Not two. And it doesn't slide forward. When he had a 16 Fiesta, we CONSTANTLY elbowed each other. The Elantra GT and sedan, have a wider one that slides forward. For reference, the Veloster Veloster and Elantra sedan, both have leather seats without a ventilation option. In Sunny California, and my sweaty butt and back, this was 90% a deal-breaker up front. Veloster has a weird and disparate options mix. Rain sensing wipers, when few Hyundai vehicles even offer that. Can I trade those for the vented seats? In essence, what I needed was the utility of a hatchback (nix sedan), and something more along the lines of a Touring car (GT) rather than a sport coupe (Veloster) It really is a car for just a single person or two for a trip, and that's it. Though the hatch opening is low, the seats DO fold down quite low and you can fit more in there than you think.

  • Jack For me, this would be a reason for rejection if considering a purchase of one of these overgrown golf carts.
  • Bufguy An enthuiast obviously owned this car....Love the old school VDO gauges added to the dash....The same ones standard in my 1981 VW Scirocco
  • Bill Wade Very simple for me, no Android Auto, no purchase. No young person in the world will buy one without Carplay.
  • MrIcky I like the 78 concept. I like the safari type top on the purple one but I don't like that color, I want to like the warth...scrambler concept but it doesn't quite do it for me. I'd like to try the magneto.
  • Tassos GM, especially under the sorry reign of socially promoted nobody Mary Barra (who would not have a chance in hell being appointed the CEO if she was a MALE) has done far dumber and sillier things than that, wasting BILLIONS on 'cruise' and expecting it to make it $50 billion, remember? THey do not mention the name much these days, the clowns at GM, do they?