KDM Korner: 3 Doors of Funk

Hyundai Veloster, photography by loubeat

Hyundai has never been afraid to make daring and bold design choices with their lineup. Take vehicles like the sixth generation Sonata (YF) that was introduced back in 2009. Gone was the grandma looking design of the early to mid-2000’s and in came something much sleeker and more attractive. It’s sloping roofline and “fluidic” design made it a standout amongst the hoard of Camry’s, Accord’s and Altima’s of the time. It made waves and caught the attention of a lot of people. Hyundai was on a roll with their design with the Sonata and the Elantra with the most daring of all about to make its debut.

At the Seoul Motor Show 2007 Hyundai debuted the HND-3 Concept which was powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 5 speed automatic. The concept was green lighted and made it into production as the Veloster in 2011 as a 2012 model. The Veloster kept much of the concept car’s unique design including its asymmetrical 3 door layout. One large door on the driver side and 2 smaller doors on the passenger side. It was a design and layout that no one had ever seen before.

2012 Hyundai Veloster, photograph by Automotive Rhythms

The production Veloster debuted with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that made 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque mated to either a 6 speed manual or 6 speed automatic. The styling was cool and grabbed a lot of buyers attention, but the sporty looks weren’t backed up by the weak powertrain. 0-60 MPH came in just under 10 seconds with the manual equipped version and 10.3 for the automatic. Many were not impressed and the Veloster soon became the butt of many jokes in the automotive community.

Hyundai, however, didn’t ignore its customers and soon came back with an answer. It introduced a turbo model featuring the same 1.6-liter GDi motor, only this time Hyundai added a turbocharger. The added turbo created 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque out of the powerplant which gave the car a more impressive 0-60 time of around 7 seconds. The manual continued in the car and the 6-speed transmission was recalibrated to handle the torque down low from the turbocharged motor. It wasn’t screaming fast like other hot compacts such as the VW GTI and Civic Si but it gave the Veloster more of a “cool” factor.

It wasn’t long after the turbo model was introduced that the aftermarket got their hands on one. Providing bolt on parts such as intakes, downpipes, intercoolers and tunes to make the car produce more power and go even faster. The lightweight body of the Veloster meant you didn’t need to squeeze a whole lot of extra juice from the motor to make the car go faster. While most upgrades and mods gave the Veloster Turbo more power, it wasn’t a whole lot more. The average person would need to spend around $3,000 just to make an extra 60 horsepower when you could spend 6 times as less getting the same amount of power from the comparable aforementioned GTI.

As time went on, the aftermarket and manufacture support for the car would continue to grow. Hyundai would make little tweaks to the motor for each model year in the first generation and introduced a brand new dual clutch transmission for the 2016 model year to give it better performance. While the DCT performed a little better than the 6-speed automatic, it was hardly considered “better” overall. Auto journalists were quick to point out its clunky shifting at low speeds and laggy shifts when full throttle. It was a very inconsistent transmission which people just learned to deal with since they didn’t want to learn how to drive a 6-speed manual. The first generation Veloster ended its production run in 2017 with a newer second generation on the way.

2019 Hyundai Veloster, photograph by Automotive Rhythms

Hyundai skipped the 2018 model year for the JS generation Veloster introduced for the 2019 model year. Sporting the same 3 door asymmetrical layout as the previous generation but much more mature styling, the new Veloster draw both praise and skepticism within the community. Some loved the new styling while others loathed it completely saying it didn’t look as aggressive as the first generation. Whether who is right or wrong in that debate is up to you. But the JS Veloster did bring some much needed upgrades to the car. Gone was torsion beam suspension setup from the previous generation and in came a new independent rear suspension setup to give the car better handling characteristics.

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