Reviews

2012 Hyundai Veloster Walk Around

A lot of people think the Veloster is cool looking, so who are we to disagree. Veloster gets looks on the highway, and that's what matters to many. But Veloster has lost the clean direction of the smaller Hyundai Accent.

We like saying “veloster,” by the way. It's not a real word but should have been. Hey bro, that wave was veloster.

Hyundai stylists went a bit far with the scallops. Veloster's muscular shape is marred by lumps and scoops, and its face leaves much to be desired. The scooped hood with pretend vents has the look of an Australian V8 Supercar, but then there are bulging headlights that look all too silvery, over another gratuitous scoop like a tear.

A chrome bar under a small black grille, with the Hyundai emblem, is unfortunately uninspiring. Veloster's mouth is as big as an Audi's, but it's filled in with body-colored plastic, shaped to resemble wings, but maybe looks more like Superman's shoulders while flying, with a chrome cape and silver H for a face.

The scoops keep coming, and begin to look like gouges. There are more on the mirrors, doorsills and liftgate. The farther back you stand, to view the silhouette, the better it looks. The nose looks low, and from a three-quarter rear view, it looks tough on its haunches.

As a three-door coupe, it totally pulls off the two-door roofline. Unlike others, with a third door hinged at the rear, this is a real door. Hyundai pioneers the obvious without compromising the ceiling.

On the passenger side of Veloster, the door is hidden save the seam. Rakish upsweep meets a racy roofline, invisible door handle in the window corner. Thankfully, beautifully, the window trim is black.

The single center exhaust is like Siamese twin trapezoids, outlined by chrome. It's boxed in by a big black fascia, that slims the bumper and looks good in pictures, but a bit less good on the street. The cool tailpipes get smothered by the volume of black plastic; but worse, the license plate sits like a big square hat on the pipes. In publicity photos, Hyundai Photoshops out the license plate, don't blame them.

The black fascia also creates pounce-like stance for Veloster, by turning the rear fenders into muscular legs. With its hunched back, Veloster looks almost frog-like. In a good way.

You can get Veloster with a variety of graphics. We saw a couple and they make us cringe.

Interior

Hyundai says the interior design was inspired by shapes on a sport bike. They say the A-pillars are like a helmet visor, the center stack resembles a fuel tank, the console mirrors a motorcycle seat, and air vents are inspired by tailpipes. We drove Velosters for a day, and can't say we noticed. Mostly we noticed overkill on the trapezoidal trim pieces.

We also noticed the terrific fit and materials of the Style Package seats, nice console support at the right thigh, good feel of the three-spoke leather steering wheel, pleasing uncluttered gauges, and digital information accessed easily. A 7-inch touch-screen is standard, with three interface layouts to choose from. Features include Bluetooth, Pandora internet radio via iPhone, and Gracenote music connectivity. A 196-watt six-speaker audio system is standard, while the 450-watt eight-speaker system comes with the Style package.

Rear visibility has a couple of problems. There's a big blind spot at the C-pillar over the driver's shoulder, comes with the roofline territory. And there's that structural support in the fastback glass liftgate, blocking rearview visibility, also comes with the territory. But the Prius is worse and the Honda CR-Z is worst.

As for the third door, others, for example the Mazda RX-8, have been hinged at the rear, so the front door must opened too. Main thing is that yoga isn't needed to climb in and out of the rear seat, where there's a paltry 31.7 inches of legroom, but after all it's a compact car. Total interior volume is best in the sport compact class, beating the Scion tC and blowing the Mini Cooper out of the water. It even beats the Mini Clubman, by 105.3 to 89.2 cubic feet.

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