Hyundai Veloster is a hatch mixing funky and cruisy
TWO doors on one side, one on the other. It's quirky but the Hyundai Veloster's asymmetric styling means there's a kerb-side door for rear passengers and the driver gets the purity of two-door coupe styling on the opposing side.
Call it genius, call it daft but until Ford's Mustang arrived the Veloster was often the country's best-selling sports car. The sales tally since 2012 exceeds 18,000.
With four usable seats and a decent size boot, it had the practicality of an everyday hatchback and was one of the cheapest sports cars you could buy.
The Mazda MX-5, Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are more in the sporty roadster or coupe mould but the Veloster trumped them as a viable daily driver.
A new Veloster is to go on sale later this year. Meanwhile, the used market is the only place to find one today.
It's a compelling item, with edgy styling, long warranty, decent ride and handling, room for four and generous equipment for not much money. You can't say that about many sportsters.
Velosters don't have the outright performance and dynamic brilliance of the above rivals and, for some, issues with satnav and connectivity have tarnished ownership.
If you're buying mainly for unique looks on a budget, the entry level Veloster should be your target, with manual or dual-clutch auto gearbox to suit.
For some go with the show, look for the 150kW SR Turbo version. There is better kit in Veloster + versions and the scarce Street grades bring a modified look.
The earliest Velosters will now be out of Hyundai's five-year/unlimited km warranty, so favour later cars with some balance.
The Veloster, launched in February 2012, stretched the sports car definition with its 0-100km/h sprint time of nearly 10 seconds but standard equipment was good.
Included were 18-inch alloys, sport bucket seats in cloth and leatherette, daytime running lights, seven-inch touchscreen with USB input and Bluetooth, Dimension audio, rear camera, rear sensors, cruise control and alloy pedals.
For $4000 more the Veloster + had distinctive 18-inch alloys with colour inserts, projector beam headlights, smart key and start, panoramic sunroof, power driver's seat, climate control and fancy digital driver display.
A few months later the far sportier SR Turbo arrived, claiming 46 per cent more power and 60 per cent more torque.
As with non-turbo versions, it came with a six-speed manual and until 2015 a conventional auto gearbox rather than a double-clutch job. The auto is hard to fault but the slick manual gearbox is the pick for keen drivers.
It added sports body kit, sports suspension, bigger brakes, leather/leatherette seats and satnav. Some even had a chameleon colour-changing Marmalade paint, if that's your bag.
In May 2015 the Series II landed with improvements to ride quality and redesigned alloys with wider tyres for all grades. SR Turbos got the new seven-speed dual-clutch auto, attractive matt-blue paint option and coloured seat belts.
The Veloster + now had satnav and Hyundai cut the price of the SR Turbo to sub-$30K. This made room for an SR Turbo + with satnav, panoramic roof, climate control and heated and ventilated seats.
In August 2016 the range was simplified to just Veloster and Veloster SR Turbo, with all gaining Apple CarPlay.
For exclusivity, look out for Veloster Street versions. A non-turbo special launched in August 2013 with SR Turbo sports suspension, exclusive silver paint, larger rear spoiler, red leather trim and red inserts for the alloys.
In June 2016, a further edition of 200 Veloster Street Turbos landed with Rays light alloy wheels, exclusive blue paint and black exterior highlights.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The model is a favourite of modifiers, so avoid Velosters that have been "enhanced" with giant wheels, garish body kits and scene-stealing colours.
Especially be wary of aftermarket performance upgrades. A remap of the engine chip can unleash extra kilowatts - as well as invalidate the warranty.
Big-ticket dramas aren't widely reported but there have been instances of engine and auto gearbox failures. Ensure the engine light doesn't stay on from start up, or come on during your drive.
Be wary of any loss of power delivery, or hesitation, alarming jerkiness or nasty noises coming from the gearbox, especially the dual-clutch auto.
If you're buying one that's out of warranty, a pre-purchase inspection is a good idea, especially for turbo cars that had enthusiastic owners.
Non-turbo Velosters need servicing annually and Turbos require the work every 7500km or six months. Careless owners may have neglected this - insist on a complete service record so remaining warranty isn't jeopardised.
Give the air-conditioning and infotainment a thorough test, as owners have reported failures here. If satnav's fitted, test its functions - make sure the screen turns on and stays on, ensure all speakers work and that your phone pairs with Bluetooth and makes clear calls.
Remember there's only space for two in the back. Some owners report leather seats wearing prematurely.
The sole recall was in January 2013, when there was a glass sunroof shattering scare.
A great car if you're smitten with the funky styling. There's strong equipment for the money and it's quite practical for a sports car. You need an SR Turbo for driving thrills but it's still no firecracker. Favour unmolested, unmodified examples with warranty remaining.
MICHELLE TURNER: I have a 2012 Veloster, non-turbo with auto gearbox. It's super cute, very economical, seats are snug but comfy, it's reliable and is solid and nicely finished for a low-mid priced car. It performs best on 98 fuel as it pings when using E10. The aircon is pretty gutless and there's a long lag between pushing the throttle and engine response. The low-profile tyres make the ride firm and are noisy at speed. The car's quite low so the front sometimes scrapes in car parks. Biggest annoyance is it takes a number of screen touches to make a simple phone call using Bluetooth, which I think is dangerous. Rear seats are comfy but, size-wise, best for kids and teens.
THE EXPERTS SAY
The Veloster's asymmetric styling polarised opinion when it arrived seven years ago. It looked like a coupe from the road and a conventional five-door hatch from the footpath.
By 2017 the importer sold more than 18,000 examples of the first-generation Veloster. Among used listings, half are turbo versions and more than 60 per cent are automatics. Tracking down an SR Turbo + can be hard as it accounts for just a fraction of listings.
For 2012, the base manual Veloster ($23,990 new) is valued at $12,600. The flagship Veloster + with dual-clutch transmission ($29,990 new) is worth $15,750.
For 2017, the base Veloster ($29,590 new) is $23,550 and the range-topping SR Turbo ($33,150 new) is $26,850.
The front-wheel drive Veloster's rivals are rear-drivers: the Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ and Mazda MX-5. For 2012, the Veloster retains value better than the previous series MX-5 and is close behind the 86 and BRZ.
For 2017, the Hyundai isn't valued as highly as the recent MX-5 and the 86 and BRZ remain well ahead. Carefully maintained Turbo models from 2017 are attractively priced.
HYUNDAI VELOSTER 2012-17
PRICE NEW $23,990-$33,150
ENGINES 1.6-litre 4-cyl, 103kW/166Nm; 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo, 150kW/265Nm
SAFETY 5 stars
TRANSMISSION 6-speed man, 6-speed auto, 6 or 7-speed double-clutch auto; FWD