Hyundai's 2021 Veloster Comes in Three Flavors, but North of the Border, It's a Very Different Story
The Hyundai Veloster remains an automotive oddity in a vehicle landscape rapidly shunning nonconformity, and for that, we give Hyundai credit. The car still exists. You author can still recall the first time he ever encountered one in the wild — in historic Vieux-Québec, with the “three-door” hatchback resting quietly under a streetlamp on those cobblestone streets.
A second-generation model landed in the latter part of 2018, with newfound power coming by way of the first N-badged Hyundai. With 250 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque, the Veloster N was a vehicle worthy of the hot hatch banner. And come 2021, it’ll be the only Veloster offered north of the border.
Very few quirky cars remain in today’s homogeneous vehicle landscape, but the Hyundai Veloster can count itself among that offbeat cohort. The Veloster N cranks up the fun quotient considerably, adding 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque to the oddball three-door package. More power can be drawn from the turbo 2.0-liter via a performance package.
A recent entry to the Hyundai lineup, the Veloster N has thus far been available only with a six-speed manual. No problem there, this writer says, but Hyundai clearly felt otherwise.
I drove the racetrack-ready Hyundai RM19 prototype, and I didn’t crash it.
The day after the Los Angeles Auto Show, while most of the rest of the assembled automotive media was either at home or in an airplane heading that way, I was in a shuttle bus heading north from Westwood/Beverly Hills towards the desert. Awaiting me would be the RM19 high-performance version of the Hyundai Veloster N.
The bus was ferrying me to Hyundai’s Proving Grounds located in/near California City, California. In addition to driving the RM19, I’d autocross a production Veloster N against the clock – something I did on the launch last year, outside of Sacramento – and be offered the chance to ride right-seat with a pro driver on an autocross in a race-prepped Veloster N. I’d also get to off-road a Palisade SUV and take a Nexo fuel-cell crossover around the high-speed track.
I skipped the right-seat ride due to lack of time, and I have little to say about autocross or the off-road. Those were merely repeats of experiences I’ve had before. The story here is the RM19, which Hyundai claims is a preview of future N products.
That exact future isn’t yet clear.
Hyundai’s hottest hatch isn’t breeding any smoking lease deals. The pinnacle of the revamped, second-generation Veloster three(?)-door definitely puts the power down, providing a Korean entry in a class dominated by Germany, Japan, and, until recently, America (via Germany), but the first lease seen for the Veloster N might leave potential owners shopping elsewhere.
There’s cheaper alternatives for those wanting 250-plus horsepower in a small package.
The hot hatch segment is about to lose two stalwarts in the Ford Focus ST and Fiesta ST. Who, oh who, now will compete with the class-leading Volkswagen Golf GTI and Honda Civic Type-R?
Will it be Subaru, bringing back a hatch version of the WRX? Chevy with an actual hopped-up Cruze hatchback? Perhaps Toyota with a performance version of the new Corolla hatch?
No. As you no doubt know by now, the newest player in the hot-hatch game is Hyundai, with the N version of its Veloster three-door entering the fray. Positioned above the sport-trimmed R-Spec Veloster and the top-trim Veloster Turbo (which blends luxury with sport), the N is meant to be an affordable track-ready toy that’s ready to go from the moment it leaves the showroom while still being usable a daily driver.
A peach in the streets and a freak off the streets, as it were.
Someone once uttered several unkind words about the name “Veloster,” claiming it to be one of the most convoluted and forced names to grace a car since the Mitsubishi Mini Active Urban Sandal.
I’m not sure I agree. After all, at least it is an actual name and not something plucked from an upset bowl of Alphagetti. The 2nd-generation Veloster bowed for the 2019 model year and, given Hyundai’s M.O. of high content and low price, we figured it’d be wise to inspect one for this week’s Ace of Base trial.
Hyundai has spend the majority of its life as a value company. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not a role that comes with a lot of prestige or upmarket appeal. It’s ready to grow up. However, for an automaker, part of growing up includes a performance line. Because you can’t be a serious carmaker if you don’t have an iconic brooch for specially designed vehicles — and the emblem that sporting Hyundais will wear is the mighty N.
Last year, Hyundai revealed the i30 N for the European market. This caused an uproar in North America because it appeared as if the company was producing something created for the sole purpose of besting the industry standard for hot hatchbacks — Volkswagen’s GTI. Fortunately, the South Korean brand decided to throw us a juicy bone by unveiling the Veloster N a short time later.
The model takes the i30 N’s 271-horsepower 2.0-liter engine and places it inside of a slightly different (more aggressive) body. Hyundai is confident it will be a success and, based on how things are playing out in Europe, it has every right to feel that way.
Some car companies seem to listen to the gripes of us underpaid yet overfed journalist types more closely than others. Hyundai and corporate sibling Kia are particularly good at that – if there’s a consensus among cranky critics about a particular car’s failings, the next generation will almost certainly address the criticisms and improve upon them.
Hyundai’s Veloster has taken a lot of crap from us keyboard knights for being a sporty hatch that lacked in power, had a crashy suspension, and offered so-so handling. Oddly, the unusual three-door body style never seemed to be the biggest complaint (surely, some even like it).
Enter generation two. Hyundai’s made a lot of changes, and every one of them goes towards making the Veloster a better car. Most succeed in that endeavor.
BMW has M, Mercedes-Benz has AMG, Cadillac has V, Lexus has F, Volkswagen and Honda share R, and Hyundai now has ownership of the letter N for its performance sub-brand.
The second-generation Hyundai Veloster, bowing for the 2019 model year, gains a hot, 275-horsepower N variant later this year, but it won’t be the only Hyundai model with that letter affixed to its sheetmetal. While the automaker hopes to use the Veloster N’s athleticism to brawn up the lineup’s image, don’t expect any additional N models just yet.
Expect N Sport.
It wasn’t a secret that Hyundai was set to launch its next Veloster in 2018. It also was fairly certain that there would be a turbo model available.
Yet Hyundai still managed to stuff a surprise up its sleeve – the high-performance N version will come to America.
Hyundai promises “up to” 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0-liter direct-injected turbocharged four-banger, and the sole transmission is a six-speed manual.
Ahead of next week’s North American International Auto Show, where TTAC will have a full complement of boots on the ground, Hyundai has released a few teaser shots of its next Veloster.
Spy shots have been floating around for a while now, supporting the thesis that the upcoming Hyundai hatch will retain its oddball door configuration. It may even have a performance model, dubbed the N, a letter so chosen by the Korean automaker because all the cool bits of the alphabet were already taken.
If the multitude of spy shots circulating around the internet wasn’t enough of a clue, Hyundai’s making it clear. There will be another Veloster, but you’ll have to wait about six weeks to see it.
The Veloster, an oddball take on the traditional hatchback, debuted in 2011 for the 2012 model year and, despite the declining popularity of traditional passenger cars (and especially coupes), managed to rack up pretty consistent sales since its unveiling. Sporting three side doors of uneven length and two-piece rear glass, the Veloster only really ran into sales trouble this year.
The next Veloster looks to keep the original’s unique profile, but Hyundai’s flagging fortunes requires a hatch hot enough to buoy the brand.
After four years of development, Hyundai is ushering a new entry into the hot hatchback category with its i30 N. Based on the newest incarnation of the family friendly i30, known throughout North America as the Elantra GT, the N badge separates it as a serious performance model. Hyundai appears to be taking direct aim at the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI, both through the N’s performance and styling — which seems to be a handsome amalgamation of the pair.
Available in two trims, the base model i30 N provides 246 horsepower while the performance package quipped version bumps that number up to 271 hp. Both use a turbocharged 2.0-liter and six-speed manual transmission and, according to Hyundai, can manage 0-60 times in the low six-second range. Power is sent to the front tires and only to the front tires, with an electronic limited slip differential to keep things manageable in the corners.
It’s a legitimate hot hatch and Hyundai’s first if you discount the Veloster — which you definitely may.
Even for a dyed-in-the-wool fanatic of a particular car, said fanatic is likely reasonable enough to see one or two flaws somewhere in their beloved ride of choice.
Conversely, the biggest consumer of Haterade for the very same car is often able to see a couple of good qualities or features in the vehicle they despise. Other times, the [s]losers and haters[/s] passionate individuals on either side of the automotive aisle (road?) can come together and agree certain vehicles are just not that great, overall.
Today we ask: Which current vehicle has the fewest redeeming qualities?
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