HOW does the concept of a four-door coupe grab you? Usually the door count is one less if, as is the case, you use the industry convention of counting the car’s hatchback tailgate as a ‘door’. Hyundai has gone one better with its Veloster coupe.
We’ve been here before with an unusual number of doors. Mini’s love it or loathe it Clubman sports five doors, just not where you’d expect them – two on one side, one on the other and a split rear door for access to the load area. The Clubman isn’t a sports car though, while Hyundai’s replacement for its long running Coupe model does at least look convincing with its racy profile.
The point of the Veloster is to prove to potential customers that Hyundai can ‘do’ fun. Its rapidly improving range of regular cars has reached a point where they are routinely compared on their merits to more established rivals. That’s great and a significant achievement, but now comes the hard task of tempting buyers purely on an emotional level.
The Korean firm hopes its Veloster will go some way to changing that situation. But with so many similar cars on sale today, standing out from the crowd is a tough job. What better way than to take go a little crazy with the door count – why have two when you can have three?
Fortunately, unlike Mini’s adventure with the Clubman, Hyundai’s decision to add a single rear door to compliment the two up front does seem to work. It’s helped by the fact the Veloster’s lone rear door is on the proper side for right-hand drive cars, something Mini refused to do with its right-hook Clubmans. This way you can get in and out at the kerbside where it’s safe. To Hyundai’s credit the door is also on the proper side for left-hook cars.
Anyway, it looks like Hyundai’s work is done here as, so far, conversation has been about that door and not much else.
Sharing underpinnings with the i30, it’s fair to say that the Veloster is no Porsche Cayman. That’s okay because this is the firm’s first step in convincing a European audience. And it’s baby steps in the engine department, as power comes from a 1.6-litre petrol unit producing 138bhp, while drive is to the front wheels.
With a zero to 60mph sprint time of just under 10 seconds with the manual gearbox, the Veloster isn’t going to set any land speed records. What it can do, thanks in part to the willing engine, is deliver a rorty and willing performance if you’re prepared to keep the revs high and make good use of the car’s six forward gears.
In this situation the Veloster offers an enjoyably brisk experience for buyers seeking a good looking, if a little quirky, coupe. Grip levels are high and the effort required to string a few B-road bends together isn’t that great due to the ample assistance from the steering.
Essentially the Veloster is version one of, hopefully, many more funky sporting coupes in the coming years. It gets more things right than wrong and, with ride and handling biased more towards family hatch than road racer, it never punishes you for failing to nail that double apex on the B4302.
Comparisons with family hatchbacks also include the Velsoter’s cabin, which adopts a lot of the feel and some of the look of Hyundai’s i30. This is a good thing, as overall refinement and ambience are good, the switchgear and displays are straightforward and there’s plenty of room up front. There’s enough in the back for short journeys too, and that third door is far from a gimmick when it comes to facilitating entry and exit.
With a good level of standard kit, lively character and the option of a dual clutch semi-auto gearbox the real world performance of Hyundai’s Veloster largely lives up to its rakish looks and unusual door arrangement. Factor in the promise of more performance to come for future models, and this is another Hyundai that’s destined to get tongues wagging for all the right reasons.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Hyundai Veloster 1.6 GDI, from £18,000 on the road.Engine: 1.6-litre petrol unit developing 138bhp.Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission as standard, driving the front wheels.Performance: Maximum speed 125mph, 0-62mph 9.7 seconds.Economy: 43.5mpg.CO2 Rating: 148g/km.