There are an awful lot of good reasons to get into the Hyundai Veloster family and formula. This car looks good, is loaded out with tech and offers a great deal of practicality in a small form factor. One good reason not to consider a Veloster, at least if you're a city dweller or have primarily urban daily driving path, is the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine in the eponymous Veloster Turbo.
Two major factors kill the Veloster Turbo in terms of said city driving: turbo lag and fuel economy.
I had our long-term Turbo for all of June and the first week of July, during which time I primarily used the car as a runabout in Ann Arbor, MI. With the exception of a few 40-ish-mile jaunts into Metro Detroit, I drove the Hyundai roughly five to ten miles at a time, with speeds that I'm sure averaged 30 miles per hour or less. This kind of driving isn't a good recipe for high mile-per-gallon numbers, to be sure, and I netted out at about 21.6 mpg – a decent bit lower than the EPA estimate of 24 mpg in the city.
Two major factors kill the Veloster Turbo in terms of city driving: turbo lag and fuel economy.
Meanwhile, I wasn't having a riveting time whilst burning that gas (at least you don't have to run premium). If you've been following the saga of this long-term car to date, you've read a lot about how the Turbo doesn't feel especially hot-hatchy. There are plenty of reasons for this, but I think much of it comes down to a laggy turbo. Getting into the heart of the boost takes a really heavy foot and a low gear when initially accelerating. Worse, the rush from the turbo boost doesn't feel especially strong once it does come on. (I don't actually mind a bit of turbo lag, if the payout at the end is a crazy accelerative moment; see Mazdaspeed3, Mini Cooper S, etc.)
In other words: If the Veloster Turbo felt really fast, even sometimes, I'd forgive the fuel economy. As it stands, I'm quite sure the trade-off versus the standard, slow, nice handling non-turbo Veloster, at least for city drivers, is a bad one to make. That's not even taking sticker price into account...
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In better news, the $1,000-option Matte Gray paint withstood a major test a few weeks ago. I was westbound on M-14 when the car ahead of me ran over a newly shed tire tread and rocketed it backwards, directly at the nose of the Veloster. There was a mighty "whump!" and "thwack!" as the offending gator smacked the hood and bounced up to the windshield, leaving a trail of rubber-burn as it went. Considering this paint finish isn't even allowed to go through a carwash for fear of paint damage, I was less than pleased at the prospects of keeping the Veloster out of the body shop.
As it turns out, the paint (and bodywork) was just dandy. I used the much-discussed Dr. Beasley's car-care kit and a soft wash mitt both to remove the rubber residue and give the Veloster a much-needed bath. All cleaned up, I was sort of surprised to see that the tire tread hadn't even left any fine scratches, although there is still a very faint, whitish rub mark on the plastic 'vent' on the hood. The washing process wasn't all that bad, either. It's been a while since I've hand-washed a car (I'll cop to being more of an automatic wash guy when I can get away with it), but my fairly thorough cleaning only took about 45 minutes. The results weren't detail-shop worthy, but the car looks as good or better than it did when I took possession of it.
One more quick note: I was surprised to find out that the Veloster seems to have a real "community" out there in the wide world. A couple of my fellow editors have mentioned that the car was positively received where it's been driven. To back that up, I noticed that just about every time I drove by or next to another Veloster on the road, that car's owner waved or handed out a thumbs-up.
I was pretty surprised to find out that the Veloster seems to have a real "community" out there in the wide world.
I love this; It happens with Mini Coopers, Miatas and other high-personality, high-owner-loyalty cars that I've driven, so it's fascinating to see a similar camaraderie growing up around this three-door (four-door?) Hyundai. It'll be more interesting still to see if the fellowship sticks over time. Oh, and it's worth noting that not a one of the Veloster Buddies that I encountered were themselves driving a Turbo-trim car. Methinks the lukewarm-hatch market is still a little soft around these parts, or else Veloster drivers just tend towards rational decision making.