Read the whole story at AutoGuide.comHyundai builds a sports car for a generation that's fallen out of love with the automobile
If the auto industry were a dice game, Hyundai would have wound up dead long ago in a seedy back alley, shot or stabbed by a jealous pimp over having a “hot hand” for too long. Just as everyone else’s luck seemed to run out a few years ago, Hyundai went from punch line to punching well above its weight with a string of products – the Genesis Coupe and Sedan, Elantra, Tucson, Sonata, Equus and Accent have all presented a serious challenge to both domestic and import manufacturers, and industry observers have been asking sotto voce whether Hyundai was due for a fall.
The Veloster is Hyundai’s most important product for the 2012 model year – on the surface, it looks like another inexpensive, sporty offering aimed at Gen Y, a crucial market for automakers who must try and sell cars to a cynical demographic that has come to see driving as an anti-social and wasteful act. While Hyundai was busy touting the car’s 40-mpg highway rating and light weight (only 2,584 lbs with the 6-speed manual) in the run up to the car’s launch, they were also making excuses. Claims abound that the Veloster was fun in the classic “driving a slow car fast” kind of way, and one Hyundai engineer told AutoGuide that the 40 mpg rating would be a bigger selling point than the car’s meager 138 horsepower rating (and he may not be wrong). The Veloster is supposed to be a mix of utility, performance, efficiency and technology, but compromise rarely leads to great automobiles.
CERTAINLY NOT SHORT ON STYLE
At first glance, the Veloster looks cool, with a broad, aggressive front end and a rakish roofline. A 360 degree walk around the vehicle reveals two design oddities that ruin an otherwise attractive shape – the rear end is pear-shaped, with a pinched-in upper-deck and strangely scalloped taillights that look the head of an insect that’s about to sting you.
On the passenger side sits an asymmetrical third-door, another oddity that we can’t understand the rationale behind. Hyundai told journalists that for right-hand drive markets, the door will shift to the other side (so that passengers won’t have to get out of the car and into traffic), so why not just make the car a 5-door hatchback? The last car to use the asymmetrical third-door setup was the Saturn Ion, and self-conscious Gen Y types would sooner admit to liking mainstream pop music than have any associations with the most uncool of car brands.