Hyundai Veloster – the outstanding, oddball virtues of being different

Daring to be different has a thin margin of error. It’s the line that separates a tech entrepreneur from your weird uncle Randy. But both will find appeal and value in the asymmetrical Hyundai Veloster.

 

The head-on appearance is sporty with swept headlights and a low grille. The rear looks like a versatile hatchback. But each side tells a different story. The driver enters through a sleek single-door coupe body, and there’s the extra practicality of front and rear doors for the passenger side.

It is a polarizing style with function being the true deciding factor. This kind of utility is unique on the market today, but it has been done before on everything from post-war Chevrolet Suburbans to the AMC Pacer.

Hyundai would like this to appeal to young, hip urbanites who are seeking a cool coupe for themselves but also wanting to carry their friends with ease. The special Rally Edition seen here particularly panders to that crowd with youthful exterior features like black 15-spoke alloy wheels, carbon fiber body kit, and a very cool exterior matte blue paint scheme. What’s amazing is that even this car sticks to Hyundai principles of providing value for money, and the special 1,200-car limited edition comes loaded at $24,785 (a base Veloster starts under $19K.)

While Hyundai is aiming for the cool kids, we also know it appeals to the same crowd that buys a minivan. After all, with the rear door on the curb side only, the Veloster offers the convenience of keeping youngsters safe. So, it is not hard to see it as that perfect second vehicle that occasionally makes soccer runs, and the one mom and dad use for date night.

Regardless if it is family or friends, the Veloster will seat four people total with the rear reserved for children or very understanding buddies. But this shouldn’t be a surprise because it is compact car that’s out to win people over with utility, not space.

The real interior appeal once again lies in value. All the favorite features come standard like power windows, power locks, and air conditioning. Every trim level comes standard with a touchscreen radio. This isn’t a high tech sat nav unit (that’s an option,) but it provides a terrific stereo control, easy Bluetooth interface, and a nice display for the backup camera. An upgraded model like the Rally Edition also gets cool blue interior accents that match the exterior color.

The Veloster has the potential to satisfy both the youthful horde and the second car crowd with its drivetrain options. The base model has an economical 1.6-liter motor that has a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) option. It can be shifted quickly via steering wheel paddles when so desired, but operates like a normal automatic the rest of the time. This makes for an easy and inexpensive car for those who need a minivan companion.

There’s an optional turbocharger that boosts the power 52 percent to 201 hp total. That car is also available with the DCT automatic transmission, but the Rally Edition lives up to its name by only sporting the six-speed manual.

The limited edition also comes with a sports suspension and lower profile tires. Packaging like this is usually a recipe for a harsh ride only a driver could love, but no one is offering all-out racer components for $25K. This works in the car’s favor. It feels tight on the road, but the bumps aren’t jarring. The motor revs nicely and forgives easily if the driver doesn’t want to shift the Rally Edition like, well, a rally car.

In the end, the Hyundai Veloster is aimed at one crowd, but also holds appeal for plenty of other less-intended people. Besides, who says the young architect that needs the occasional rear door to carefully transport models is cooler than the grandmother who picks up the grandkids at the airport?

So youth image be dammed, because utility has mass appeal. Some people can even live with a design that’s as quirky as Uncle Randy.

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