The 2021 Hyundai Veloster remains one of the most unique cars on sale today. Its because not many cars come with three side doors. The answer would be one: the Veloster. It has an asymmetrical three-door setup with one door on the driver’s side and two on the passengers. That quirky door arrangement improves the practicality of this small hatchback by providing better access to the rear seats compared to a regular coupe. It is fun and playful driving characteristics that you expect from a small performance coupe.
The base 147-horsepower 2.0-liter engine doesn’t exactly get the heart pumping and can feel strained just merging onto freeways. Thankfully, the optional turbocharged 1.6-liter engine (201 hp) makes the Veloster feel a lot sportier. Or if you want serious performance from a small car, look no further than the Veloster N In turns and corners, there’s only a hint of body roll, and the R-Spec’s high-performance tires help it instantly change directions. The R-Spec comes only with a manual transmission, but the dual-clutch automatic in other turbocharged Velosters responds quickly to paddle-shifted gear changes. The Veloster is sportier than most compact cars, and that means a fundamentally stiff suspension. Even so, the Veloster remains comfortable for driving around town or highway cruising. The ride is composed and stable, and the suspension takes the edge off larger bumps, but the car’s short wheelbase makes it more sensitive to choppy roads.
The R-Spec’s seats are nicely shaped, offering ample support and side bolstering and plenty of adjustability. Some drivers will lament that the seats lack adjustable lumbar, but you can get this feature in Turbo and Turbo Ultimate models. The cabin can get noisy at highway speeds, especially when the car is equipped with high-performance tires.
The Veloster’s interior is intelligently designed and packaged. It makes good use of available space afforded by the car’s funky, asymmetrical styling. The long driver’s door makes it tricky to get in or out in tight spaces, but shorter doors make it easier on the passenger side. There’s surprisingly ample front and rear space inside the car, and most adults can sit in the rear seat without complaint, but limited headroom might annoy taller riders.
Fundamentally, the Veloster is a driver’s car, and the driving position is appropriately low and sporty. The controls are logically grouped and placed close at hand. And overall visibility is good, but the massive rear pillars translate to large blind spots. Navigation is available with the Turbo Ultimate trim. It’s a basic system but it’s clear and easy to use.
The Veloster comes with an array of USB and 12-volt charging and data connections, and some trims offer a wireless charging pad. Voice commands are limited to a handful of functions, but the system responds well, even to some more natural phrases. Driver aids are sprinkled throughout the lineup, but we learned they don’t always respond accurately after experiencing some false emergency-braking episodes.
The Veloster’s trunk is surprisingly spacious at 19.9 cubic feet, although it relies on a low load floor to create much of that space. As a result, you’ll have to lift items somewhat high to clear the trunk opening. The cabin offers plenty of spaces to store drink bottles and personal items, including wide door pockets and a large center console. Rear passengers need to make do with cupholders and a small tray. The car seat anchors near the surface of the seats are clearly marked, but they’re tucked between the cushions and offer no special access. The top tethers are inconveniently located on the trunk floor. This car is not the best one to choose if you’re frequently installing and removing a car seat.
By Ella Patterson Member of The Texas Auto Writers Assoc. All PHOTOS FROM PROSPECTIVE AUTO MANUFACTURERS