Full 2013 Hyundai Veloster Review
What's New for 2013
The Hyundai Veloster gets some much-needed extra velocity for 2013 thanks to the addition of a new Turbo model, which boasts an extra 63 horsepower and 72 pound-feet of torque along with other mechanical and aesthetic enhancements. Meanwhile, the regular Veloster loses a little engine power with the automated manual transmission, but gets better fuel economy in return. There's also the new RE:MIX edition, which dresses the standard Veloster up with a body kit and special wheels.
The 2013 Hyundai Veloster is for the type of person who likes to be different. Maybe she wears colorful shoes or claims her favorite Beatle is Ringo. Maybe he's a Yankee fan who wears a red version of the iconic cap. Such people might want (or can only afford) an economy car, but driving to an indie rock festival in a Hyundai Accent or Elantra would be just too darn ordinary.
With the Veloster, you definitely won't be getting ordinary. From the driver side, this funky hatchback looks like a regular two-door. Turn it 180 degrees, though, and it looks like a four-door thanks to the perfectly normal-looking rear door. You can think of this unusual three-door setup as a variation on the mullet -- business on the right, party on the left. It gives you a sporty look like a coupe on one side while delivering practical access for rear passengers like a sedan on the other. Maybe it makes sense, maybe it doesn't, but it's certainly different.
Yet like colorful shoes, the Veloster must still serve a practical purpose. Its backseat does sacrifice room for fashion, but it can still fit two people more easily than other "different" hatchbacks like the Fiat 500, Mini Cooper or VW Beetle. The Veloster also delivers great value, since its reasonable price includes a truly impressive number of standard features, plus a great many more are available as options.
As a vehicle to get you from home to the rock festival, the Veloster is perfectly acceptable. If you expect more -- either in terms of refinement or driving fun -- you might want to be different with, well, something different. The base engine does not deliver the velocity this car's name implies, as the standard Veloster is actually slower than subcompacts like the Chevy Sonic or even the Hyundai Accent. The Veloster has even become a little slower for 2013 when equipped with the optional automated manual transmission, sacrificing some horsepower and torque in favor of a fuel economy increase to an EPA-estimated 37 mpg on the highway.
There is some extra velocity to be found this year, however, thanks to the addition of a new Turbo model that packs 201 hp. This is a much stronger engine that still gets decent fuel economy, but even with this extra oomph, the Veloster remains slower than cars like the Mini Cooper S or Volkswagen GTI. Its handling isn't as sharp either, while the suspension delivers a harsh and insufficiently damped ride across the bumps.
In other words, the 2013 Hyundai Veloster isn't as fun to drive as you'd expect, nor is it as comfortable as it should be. We definitely recommend looking at some of the alternatives, but there's no taking away this funky hatchback's interesting mix of value and practicality. It's also really different.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Hyundai Veloster is a hatchback with three doors (one on the driver side and two on the passenger side). There are base, RE:MIX and Turbo trim levels.
The base Veloster comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, heated mirrors, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, BlueLink emergency telematics, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a touchscreen electronics interface and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, an RCA audio/video jack, Pandora internet radio capability and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Style package adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a panoramic sunroof, chrome and piano-black exterior trim, cloth/leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, alloy-trimmed pedals, a driver auto-up window and an eight-speaker Dimension premium audio system. To this package the Tech package can be added. It includes different 18-inch wheel with body-matching painted inserts, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a 115-volt household power outlet and a navigation system.
The RE:MIX is essentially a base Veloster fitted with a body kit, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, projection headlights with LED running lights, LED taillights, keyless ignition/entry, the Dimension sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, LED cabin lighting and monogrammed floor mats.
Compared to the base Veloster, the Turbo gets a more powerful engine, sport-tuned steering, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, different styling elements, foglamps, keyless ignition/entry, heated front seats, driver lumbar adjustment, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped wheel and shifter and the Dimension sound system. The Ultimate package adds the rear parking sensors, panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, 115-volt outlet, rearview camera and navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2013 Hyundai Veloster comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission. It produces 132 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque with the optional six-speed automated manual transmission known as DCT. In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped Veloster went from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, which is good for a subcompact hatchback, but not exactly swift. A DCT-equipped Veloster we tested last year was nearly a second slower and should be even pokier for 2013 because of the decrease in power.
The base Veloster with a manual achieves an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined. The DCT achieves an estimated 28/37/31.
The Veloster Turbo gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque regardless of whether it's attached to the standard manual or optional six-speed traditional automatic transmission. In Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped Turbo went from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is slow for a sporty compact hatchback. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 24/35/28 mpg with the manual and 24/31/28 mpg with DCT.
Every 2013 Hyundai Veloster comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also included is Hyundai BlueLink, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlock, stolen vehicle tracking and vehicle alarm notification.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Veloster came to a stop from 60 mph in a class-average 121 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Clearly, the most prominent feature of the 2013 Hyundai Veloster is its three-door layout. While the single driver-side door creates a coupelike appearance, the two smaller passenger-side doors provide added convenience for loading people or parcels. Once you pass through the single rear door (be careful not to clip your head on the truncated opening) you'll find a backseat that's roomier than most coupes but less so than most hatchbacks. There's a decent amount of legroom, but the seat cushion is mounted quite low and headroom is limited by the sloping rear roof line that places the heads of its occupants under the sun-warmed glass of the hatch. The deep trunk holds 15.5 cubic feet under that hatch.
Up front, the cabin boasts a youthful and modern design that never seems cute or gimmicky. The splashes of blue trim included with the Turbo are a nice touch. There is an abundance of hard plastic, but it's textured for a more favorable appearance. In terms of functionality, the Veloster's controls are presented in the sensible way we expect from Hyundai, including even those in the standard touchscreen interface.
The Veloster is also notable for its standard electronics and entertainment features. Besides an iPod interface and Bluetooth phone connectivity, Pandora radio control is standard as well. Hyundai's BlueLink emergency communications system comes with the typical safety telematics features, plus outbound text messaging, location sharing (via Facebook) and a geo-fence system that alerts you when the car travels outside of a defined area (for keeping tabs on younger drivers or valet parkers).
To paraphrase Top Gun, the Veloster's styling and name are writing checks its driving dynamics can't cash. The base model is downright slow and even the Turbo's performance is well off the pace of hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST, Mazdaspeed 3 and Volkswagen GTI. The Veloster corners reasonably well, but the steering feels vague and the car is upset by bumps while cornering. Moreover, the ride is harsh, which makes this car less than fun on a daily basis.
So the 2013 Hyundai Veloster is not a legitimate sport coupe or sport hatchback. However, if you're just looking for a subcompact or compact hatchback with a distinct and sportycharacter, then it definitely still has some appeal. It is easy to drive, responsive to inputs and both engines deliver strong fuel economy.