Hyundai introduced the Veloster, its three-door, four-passenger hatchback, in 2012, with one well-appointed trim offering two optional upgrade packages. But now there’s a lot more in the lineup, including the Rally model aimed at enthusiasts.
For 2016, Veloster is available in four trims: Base, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo Rally Edition and Turbo. Prices range from $18,000 for the Base to $23,950 for the Rally Edition.
The limited-edition Rally is new for 2016, with unique Matte Marathon Blue paint, Rays lightweight wheels with wide all-season tires, carbon-fiber-look aero accents, unique badging and floor mats, leather upholstery, and sportier, more performance-focused suspension tuning than the R-Spec on which it is based.
Rays Engineering is a high-end Japanese wheel manufacturer, producing wheels for both motorsport and street use, using exclusive high-tech forging processes.
Standard equipment for the Base Veloster, carried forward to the Rally Edition, includes LED running lights, heated mirrors, centered dual trapezoid exhaust tips; full power accessories, rearview camera, cruise control, air conditioning; height-adjustable driver seat, tilt-telescoping steering wheel and Sport front seats.
Also included are 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks; a cargo cover; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and audio with a seven-inch touch screen, CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack, Pandora Internet radio capability and USB port.
The Base Veloster has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission is available for $1,100.
Veloster Turbo R-Spec adds a more-powerful 20- horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission with a B&M Racing sport shifter, sport-tuned suspension and steering, a torque-vectoring system (selectively applies braking to improve handling around tight turns); projector headlights with unique LED headlight accents, front fog lights, LED taillights, centered dual round exhaust tips, and a unique front fascia/grille and body kit.
It also comes with a 450-watt Dimension premium audio system with eight speakers, alloy pedals, and special features for the Turbo R-Spec including red leatherette bolsters and cloth seat inserts, red seatbelts; Active Sound Design to channel exhaust sounds through the stereo speakers; and R-Spec floor mats and exterior badges.
Other features on the R-Spec, borrowed from the Style Package ($2,100 option on the Base model) include the Hyundai Blue Link Telematics System, chrome grille surround with Piano Black highlights, Piano Black interior accents, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and auto-up driver’s window.
Blue Link consists of a navigation screen with voice-activated functions including navigation help and emergency services. Functions such as turn-by-turn directions, restaurant ratings and gas station locations and prices can also be accessed via the touch screen. With a Blue Link app on a smartphone, navigation information can be sent to the car remotely.
Blue Link services also include SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside services, a monthly vehicle health report, remote door lock/unlock, car finder, stolen vehicle immobilization, traffic conditions for daily routes, and Geo-Fence (a vehicle monitoring service including range, speed, time of day, and a curfew reminder).
The touch screen offers three interface layouts for personalization and comes to life when the engine is started with a Veloster image and a unique sound.
My tester for this review, the Rally Edition, had – in addition to or replacing some of the features on the Base and Turbo R-Spec – the lightweight 15-spoke wheels (five groups of three; five pounds lighter per wheel) in matte black; sportier shocks, springs, and stabilizer bar; carbon fiber aero kit exterior accent covers on the lower rocker panels and lower front fascia/ground effects; and a unique front fascia, grille and body kit.
Also in the Rally package were unique black leather seating with blue leatherette bolsters (with Turbo embroidered on the front) and cloth seat inserts; red Rally Edition badging on the hatch; and Rally Edition floor mats (with Rally embroidered in red). Leatherette reinforcements help protect against wear and tear from entering and exiting.
The Piano Black interior and exterior trim was replaced with Matte Black, with Matte Blue on the grab handles on the doors and center console, and blue stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The third door, on the passenger side, allowed easier entry for rear passengers, although the deeply sloped roof made it necessary to duck. Driver and front passenger had 39 inches of headroom and 43.9 inches of legroom. The rear seat had 35.3 inches of headroom and 31.7 inches of legroom.
Veloster’s sloped glass hatch was close to rear passengers’ heads, though, exposing them to the sun. And visibility – for rear passengers and driver – was also limited by the small side windows resulting from that deep slope. The left side passenger had to be small and nimble to enter from the right.
With the rear seats folded flat, the cargo area is increased from the already sizable 15.5 cubic feet of the hatch area.
Veloster Rally Edition presents with Sporty, extroverted styling, while still an economically-minded hatchback. Acceleration wasn’t special, but handling was balanced and driving was fun and comfortable for the most part.
The ride was firm as expected, which resulted in some harsh impacts over speed bumps and potholes. Driving on side streets was fairly quiet in terms of engine noise and wind, although at highway speeds road noise was noticeable.
For safety, in addition to six air bags (with front occupant classification), including side curtains, Veloster has an energy absorbing steering column, blind-spot mirror, Vehicle Stability Management, antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, front and rear crumple zones, and more.
My Rally Edition was fuel efficient – rated at 25 mpg city, 33 highway, 28 combined – loaded with features, and very eye-catching. Destination charges of $835 brought the total delivered price to $24,785.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.