2012 Hyundai Veloster: Suspension Walkaround
While Jay was out riding shotgun in a plain white 2012 Hyundai Veloster, I managed to get my mitts on a Starsky and Hutch themed example in our new lab for a look-see at the suspension.
Once the shock of that stripe wears off the next thing that jumps out is the 2012 Veloster is clearly smaller than an Elantra. This impression largely stems from the V's length, which is a full foot shorter -- 12.2 inches if you're keeping score at home.
After that, however, the differences are less dramatic. Its 104.3-inch wheelbase is 2 inches shorter than that of the Elantra. The Veloster is simultaneously 1.4 inches lower and 0.6 inches wider, and its base curb weight is lighter by 77 pounds.
These dimensions are close enough that the suspension layout can be similar. Suspension tuning is another matter, though, as the Veloster's springs, dampers, tires and other tunable elements have been dialed up to make it decidedly sportier.
Up front the Veloster rides on your basic coil-over MacPherson strut suspension -- or is it?
The Veloster's lower control arm (yellow) is of the one-piece stamped steel variety. There's also a direct acting stabilizer bar that uses a long slender link (white) to connect the stab bar directly to the strut housing. The Veloster uses a 24mm bar, one larger than the Elantra's 23mm piece.
But it all looks so clean and tidy. Something seems to be missing.
Here's another look at the lower control arm (yellow), and from this angle we can clearly see the rear-acting steering (green) that's common to front driven machines like this one.
But I still feel like I'm overlooking something. What can it be?
A-ha! It turns out that our Veloster is the first car we've ever come across in the walkaround series that puts the brake caliper and the steering arm on the same side of the axle centerline. It does not conform to the convention that would normally place the brake caliper in front of the axle in a rear-steer front-drive car such as this.
Hyundai was able to do this for a handlful of reasons. First, the Veloster uses a single-piston (black) sliding brake caliper, a design that works on a light car like this but only has bulk in the middle where that piston is.
Second, the steering arm attaches to the knuckle from below, putting the bulky ball joint itself lower down.
But the third factor is what really makes this possible: instead of the usual 3 o'clock position used by rear-mounted brakes, this Veloster's pinchers sit at 1:30 or thereabouts, leaving just enough room for the steering arm to sneak underneath.
Why do it this way? I have no official answer, but a couple of possibilities come to mind. This layout puts both elements to the rear, a move that reduces nose weight and improves weight distribution.
"Yes, but that has to be small potatoes," you're thinking. I hear you, but every little bit helps on a nose heavy front-drive machine. Still, this is probably not the driving factor.
How about this one: Putting the brake caliper in its normal place opposite the steering may give the relatively heavy caliper a large moment to use against the steering, perhaps making brake vibrations more persistent and harder to damp out. The inertia effect might be significantly lessened by putting them closer together. Here the separation distance is just 1 or 2 inches instead of the usual 9 or 10 inches.
I haven't convinced myself this is actually the case, but it sort of sounds good on the surface.
As you might expect, this arrangement has a drawback or two. The steering tie-rod is closer to a heat source and will therefore run hotter, but this isn't likely to be an issue because the tie-rod is underslung and because high temp grease formulations are easy to come by.
The main drawback for enthusiasts may be this: there seems to be no room for something like a Brembo 4-piston fixed caliper aftermarket brake upgrade for the Veloster. There simply doesn't seem to be enough real estate with this knuckle design and brake placement.
All of this applies to the Elantra, too, because its front suspension shares these brake and steering design elements. Look at the pictures in our recent 3-car compact comparison and you'll see the same 1:30 brake caliper placement we're looking at here.
Other than the 1:30 aft placement, the Veloster's single piston sliding caliper and ventilated front rotors are fairly straightforward.
Like the Elantra, the Veloster uses a twist beam rear axle -- but the two cars do not share the same design.
Like all such twist beam axles, the beam itself behaves like a big stabilizer bar with wheels on the end. But the sportier Veloster needed more rear roll stiffness than the Elantra.
In order to accomplish this, the Veloster needed a different twist beam design. In an Elantra, the central span of the twist beam, the part that crosses the car, is a hydroformed piece with a given roll stiffness that can't be easily boosted.
In order to jack up the roll stiffness in the Veloster a simpler folded cross beam (white) was used in order to provide sufficient space in the void for a sizable welded-in supplemental stabilizer bar (yellow). Welded in bars also allow a suspension tuning engineer to swap out axles with different bar diameters. The one they settled on here is 23 mm in diameter.
If mounted square, the relatively soft twist beam pivot bushing you want to combat ride impact harshness would deflect far too much under cornering loads and allow lateral deflection oversteer to rear its ugly head. Mounting the bushing at an angle helps manage this conflict. This approach was rare in early days of twist beam axles but is widely accepted now.
The Veloster's rear suspension reveals another unusual detail. In most twist beam setups the coil spring sits up front with the damper behind, but here the two are swapped. The Veloster's damper (yellow) is also reclined toward an attachment point that's more or less in line with the axis of the coil spring.
This seems to be an attempt to keep the forward area clear for the fuel filler pipe (white) which itself may be a little lower than usual because of the need to provide decent rear seat passenger space.
Here's another view from the inside. Incidentally that shock absorber is a monotube damper, a more expensive choice that can make more damping force and still run cool. It's a good sign.
The Veloster's rear disc brakes consist of single-piston sliding calipers and solid rotors.
The standard Veloster tire package consists of P215/45R17 rubber mounted on 17 x 7-inch rims, but 215/40R18 tires mounted on 18 x 7.5-inch rims are available.
At first glance it appears that Hyundai used a fairly tried-and-true suspension approach for the Veloster, an approach that makes sense for a car of this size and price point. But they've also gone off-script a little and applied some interesting tweaks.
We're intching to drive this beastie on the road and take it to our test track to see how it all works out. But we can't go there just yet; we have to wait until we get the green light. Stay tuned.