Hyundai is a couple generations into general competence and long ago became immune to cheap shots like “Hyundais are good, for Korean cars.” More recently, the automaker has grown ambitious about making its mainstream models more appealing to drive. Recently, sizzle has trickled into models as unpretentious as the price-leader Accent sedan and the Kona crossover.
2019 Veloster ride and handling
With its stiffer body and new rear suspension, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster has more predictable and capable handling. We needled a pair of Turbos around suburban Austin, and found the new Veloster doesn’t get flustered much.
The suspension now pairs front struts with a multi-link rear suspension, which replaces the rear torsion axle. Mid-corner bumps and imperfections easily upset the last-generation Veloster, but no more. It doesn’t have huge amounts of ride compliance, but the 2019 Veloster Turbo on all-season tires feels soft enough to be comfortable every day. It skitters through tight corners as it overpowers those less aggressive all-season treads, but on the summer tires sold as an upgrade, the grip lives up to the precision dialed into the new rear end. If its steering were just a bit more involving and accurate–there’s some on-center wander–the Veloster would earn some instant comparisons to the Civic Si. As it stands, it’s close.
The N version may turn that talk into comparisons with Honda’s striking Civic Type R. The Veloster N will have a firmer suspension, a limited-slip front differential, and special steering tuning. It will come standard with 13.0-inch front and 11.8-inch rear brakes, while upsized 13.6- and 12.4-inch units will be optional. Standard tire fitment for the Veloster N will be 18-inch Michelin Pilot SuperSport rubber, while 19-inch Pirelli P-Zero tires will be an option. Stay tuned. We give it an 8 out of 10 for features. In addition to a good warranty, the Veloster has ample standard features and good infotainment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Every 2019 Veloster gets power features, cruise control, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. The base price of $19,385 includes an $885 destination charge and the manual transmission; a 6-speed automatic runs an extra $1,000. To that, the $23,635 Veloster Premium adds 18-inch wheels, blind-spot monitors, keyless ignition, wireless charging, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Infinity speakers, a moonroof, heated front seats, and cloth/synthetic leather upholstery.
The $23,785 Veloster R-Spec swaps in the 1.6-liter turbo-4 and a manual transmission. It starts with the base model’s gear, and adds Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires on 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, keyless ignition, Infinity speakers, and alloy pedals. The $26,285 Veloster Turbo takes that setup and adds the dual-clutch transmission, heated seats, a sunroof, blind-spot monitors, and automatic climate control.
At the top of the lineup, the $27,535 Veloster Turbo Ultimate offers either transmission and standard leather upholstery, a black roof, navigation, wireless charging, and pedestrian detection for its automatic emergency braking. It also sports a head-up display that shows a tach and navigation commands.
Comfort & Quality
With a 104.3-inch wheelbase, and a 166.9-inches overall length, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster is only fractionally larger than the first-generation model. Interior space is almost unchanged, but interior quality has vaulted to new heights. We give it a 5 for comfort and quality. (Read more about how we rate cars.) The Veloster’s hatchback styling puts two doors on the passenger side, one longer door on the driver side, and a hatch for cargo. That gives it some interesting utility, though we wonder if the distinctive layout would be missed by any buyers.
In front, the Veloster’s seats come covered in cloth on base models, a grippy cloth and leather combination on some Turbos, and full leather on the top Turbo Ultimate. We sat in the more expensive seats, and found them much improved over the last Veloster, with much thicker upper back bolsters and a good range of manual adjustment. The cabin’s somewhat narrow, still, but the Veloster doles out just enough head room on sunroof-equipped models to keep tall drivers and front passengers from touching head to headliner. Power seats are no longer on the options list.
The dash borrows many styling elements from the Hyundai Kona SUV, including central display screens and climate controls. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes standard while an 8.0-inch is optional. Both displays sit atop an attractive center stack that features a handsome, logical arrangement for HVAC and redundant audio controls. At the bottom, an iPhone X-sized cubby sits alongside standard USB and auxiliary inputs. A wireless charging pad is available, too. Unlike the Kona, the Veloster sets off the passenger with grey center console trim, while the driver’s framed in black. It’s a visual distraction from the petite size, and it works.
Medium-sized passengers are the largest passengers that fit easily in the Veloster’s back seat, and those in the rear left seat will have to choose whether to enter via the rear right-side door and clamber over the seat, or to swing the wide driver-side door and jump in that way. It’s not much easier to get in the Veloster for that fourth passenger, than if it were a two-door hatchback. A 6-foot passenger will have to slouch a bit and splay their knees to fit, even if the passenger and driver slide their seats well forward.
Fold the rear seat down and the Veloster becomes the two-seat cubby hole it longs to be. There’s 19.9 cubic feet behind the rear seat, about that much extra when the rear seat’s folded down. Liftover is high, but Hyundai tucks the hatch release cleverly into the rear wiper housing.
Interior space hasn’t changed much, but the Veloster’s interior sounds much more impressive than before. The stiffer body means less suspension noise; the active-noise control for the turbo-4 can be shut off completely. Door panels are thicker, there’s more sound deadening, and though the Veloster cabin wears lots of hard plastic, it’s toned and grained to fool an otherwise sharp eye.