What is it?
The Hyundai Veloster is an over-engineered solution to what is, at best, a negligible problem. In an effort to attract customers from two disparate segments, Hyundai has employed an unusual 1+2 door configuration (one large one on the driver’s side, and 2 smaller ones on the passenger side) to distinguish the Veloster, in both form and function, from its competition.
Beyond that unfamiliar arrangement, the car is rather conventional fare. It shares a platform blueprint with the current five-door Accent doing the rounds abroad, and gets a stock MacPherson front strut, torsion beam axle rear suspension setup.
The engine options are simple enough: there’s just one – the 138bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder GDI petrol unit mated to a six-speed manual gearbox (although Hyundai’s first dual-clutch automatic is an option).
As you might expect from Hyundai, the kit list is generous even on the entry-level model tested here. A 7-inch touch-screen media centre featuring iPod and Bluetooth connectivity features alongside climate control, automatic headlights, heated door mirrors and reversing sensors, all for the £17,995 asking price.
What’s it like?
First things first: that door. Yes, access has been improved. But only marginally. There should be plenty of room for an extra entrance – the Veloster is slightly longer than a five-door Golf – but thanks to the design limitations of its swept-back coupe profile, the constricted rear opening insists you adopt an awkward shape to gain admission.
The tapered posterior means that taller passengers are going to find their heads brushing the roofline, but otherwise its commodiously hatchback-like in the back. It isn’t unpleasant either. Hyundai is becoming a hugely proficient at crafting budget interiors from subtle styling and shrewd material choices, and the Veloster is another prime example of that recent trend.
The similarities to an orthodox hatchback continue out on the road, where the car is content to amble along in companionable fashion. The ride quality is well-judged when it’s not faintly lumpy, refinement is generally up to scratch and the nasal four-pot is appropriately perky where it ought to be.
Issues only appear when you endeavor to take the congenial controls by the scruff of the neck and extract some enjoyment from the Veloster. Despite gaining some weight, the slow, powderpuff steering remains unresponsive and resolutely uncommunicative at speed – especially through the first few degrees of lock. Coupled to an evasive front end and surprisingly unsettled stability under heavy braking, attempts to push on can quickly become wearisome.
Should I buy one?
Your admiration of the Veloster concept is likely to hinge on whether you consider the project a commendable stab at producing something different or, alternatively, see it as a superficial and cynical attempt to hijack new sales ground with flagrant gimmickry.
We’re not entirely sure whether either argument deserves the high ground to itself, but there is a nagging suspicion that the Veloster’s component parts don’t quite add up to an entirely satisfying whole.