Full 2014 Hyundai Veloster Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Hyundai Veloster lineup expands to include a slightly less expensive Turbo R-Spec model, while last year's RE:MIX trim level is replaced by the new RE:FLEX Edition (late availability). In addition, the base 2014 Hyundai Veloster gets a rearview camera, LED daytime running lights and a driver side blind spot mirror as standard. All Veloster Turbo models get a brake-based torque-vectoring feature designed to improve handling around tight turns, while automatic climate control is newly optional.
If you want a small, affordable, fuel-efficient car with a dash of personality, there are quite a few options to choose from this year. One offbeat candidate you might consider is the 2014 Hyundai Veloster, a sporty-looking hatchback with an interesting twist: Instead of two or four doors, it has three. Hyundai designed the Veloster with a longer, single door on the driver's side to let the driver in and out with ease and two shorter doors on the passenger side, to allow easier access to the backseat. Although the real-world usefulness of this design is debatable, it definitely makes the Veloster stand out from more conventional rivals.
Plus, if you're comparing the Veloster to smaller two-door hatchbacks and coupes, that third door really does make it easier to get in and out of the backseat, install child safety seats and load groceries. Along with that extra measure of practicality comes a long warranty and a generous standard equipment list. Even base Velosters come with Bluetooth, a USB input, a rearview camera and a 7-inch touchscreen electronics interface.
However, the engine in the base Hyundai Veloster makes all of 138 horsepower, so if you're expecting much in the way of velocity (as the car's name implies), you'll likely be more interested in the Turbo and Turbo R-Spec models. Both get a more powerful turbocharged engine, but the new-for-2014 R-Spec model is a bit less expensive and gets various performance upgrades like a stiffer suspension, sportier steering and a sport shifter. Both Turbo models also have a new torque-vectoring system that selectively applies the brakes to help the Veloster get the power to the pavement when you're accelerating out of tight turns.
Although these updates should make the 2014 Hyundai Veloster a bit more fun to drive than earlier versions, Hyundai's three-door coupe has some catching up to do in this department. Although both of the available engines are fuel-efficient, they're not especially potent, and the Veloster is significantly slower than most similarly priced rivals. Another issue is ride quality, as this coupe tends to ride harshly around town, while its lack of composure over bumps detracts from its handling abilities. Although the more aggressively tuned Turbo R-Spec model could prove to be more enjoyable on twisty back roads, buyers who commute on potholed roads will want to a take a thorough test-drive before committing to this version. Finally, from the standpoint of practicality, bear in mind that while this Hyundai is more versatile than most two-door hatchbacks, almost every four-door hatch on the market has it beat for maximum cargo space.
Accordingly, you'll want try a few of the 2014 Veloster's two- and four-door rivals before making a decision. Among four-door hatchbacks, the 2014 Volkswagen GTI should definitely be on your list, though it will cost you a bit more. The VW offers an excellent blend of speed, comfort and agility and has the nicest (and roomiest) passenger quarters of any car in this price range. Priced slightly below the GTI, the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST and the 2014 Ford Focus ST are also great choices, particularly if sharp handling matters as much to you as fuel economy and ride comfort. If you want a smaller two-door package, we recommend looking at the 2014 Mini Cooper S and 2014 Fiat 500. Both are fun to drive and bursting with personality, and the Mini gained useful interior room in its recent redesign. With so many desirable hatchbacks available for similar money, the 2014 Hyundai Veloster doesn't rank among our top picks, but it's still worth considering as an alternative to an everyman's economy sedan.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Hyundai Veloster is a four-passenger hatchback with three doors (one on the driver side and two on the passenger side) and three trim levels: base, Turbo R-Spec and Turbo.
The base Veloster comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, heated mirrors, full power accessories, keyless entry, a rearview camera, cruise control, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Blue Link emergency telematics, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 7-inch 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 optional Style package adds a panoramic sunroof, chrome and piano-black exterior trim, cloth/leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, aluminum-trimmed pedals, piano-black interior trim and an eight-speaker LG Dimension premium audio system. To this package the Technology package can be added. It adds 18-inch alloy wheels with body-matching painted inserts, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a 115-volt household power outlet and a navigation system.
Similar to the Style package, the RE:FLEX Edition (late availability) builds on the base Veloster's standard equipment list, adding different 18-inch wheels, foglights, LED taillights, chrome exterior trim, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, aluminum-trimmed pedals, piano-black interior trim and the upgraded audio system.
New for 2014 is the Veloster Turbo R-Spec, which is available only with a manual transmission and includes the RE:FLEX Edition equipment (though it has leatherette upholstery rather than leather). It also features a more powerful engine, a lower body kit, sport-tuned suspension and steering, a B&M sport shifter, a torque-vectoring system that selectively applies the brakes to improve handling around tight turns, and an Active Sound Design feature (late availability) that channels exhaust sounds through the stereo speakers to heighten the excitement of driving your Veloster.
Compared to the R-Spec version, the Veloster Turbo features slightly less aggressive tuning for the suspension and steering along with a few additional creature comforts. It adds unique 18-inch alloy wheels, different styling elements, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, driver lumbar adjustment and leather upholstery. The Ultimate package adds the rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, automatic climate control, a 115-volt outlet and a navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Hyundai Veloster comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 hp and 123 pound-feet 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 (this transmission is standard on the RE:FLEX Edition).
In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped Veloster went from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, which is average for a budget-priced subcompact hatchback, but not exactly swift. A DCT-equipped Veloster we tested was nearly a second slower. Equipped with a manual transmission, the base Veloster gets an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined (26 city/35 highway). The DCT version is rated at 31 mpg combined (28/36).
The Veloster Turbo and Turbo R-Spec get a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque regardless of whether it's paired with the standard manual transmission or the traditional six-speed automatic transmission, which is optional only on the Turbo model.
In Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped Turbo went from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is slower than average for a sporty compact hatchback. Equipped with the manual gearbox, the Turbo and R-Spec models are rated at 28 mpg combined (24 city/33 highway); automatic versions are rated at 27 mpg combined (24/31).
Every 2014 Hyundai Veloster comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also included is Blue Link, Hyundai's emergency telematics system, which offers roadside assistance, crash response, remote door lock control and monitoring features for parents with teenage drivers (speed, geo-fencing and curfew limits).
In Edmunds brake testing, the base Veloster came to a stop from 60 mph in a class-average 121 feet, while the Veloster Turbo needed 126 feet, which is longer than average for a sporty coupe or hatchback. In government crash testing, the Veloster received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five starts for side-impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The most prominent feature of the 2014 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 (and be careful not to clip your head on the truncated opening), you'll find a backseat that's roomier than most coupes but less spacious 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. With the seats folded down, maximum cargo capacity is 34.7 cubes. That's respectable if you're comparing the Veloster to two-door coupes, but most compact hatchbacks have at least 10 additional feet of space.
Up front, the cabin boasts a youthful and modern design that never seems cute or gimmicky. There is an abundance of hard plastic, but it's textured for a more favorable appearance. The Veloster's controls are well organized, and the standard touchscreen interface is easy to use. Besides an iPod interface and Bluetooth connectivity, Pandora Internet radio is standard as well.
Although the Veloster looks like a sporty hatchback, it doesn't really drive that way. The base model is downright slow, especially when equipped with the automated manual transmission. Acceleration is significantly improved on the Turbo and Turbo R-Spec models, but their performance is still well off the pace of hot hatches like the Ford Fiesta ST, Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI. On the other hand, the 201-hp 1.6-liter engine in these models is impressively refined, and the power comes on so smoothly that you almost can't tell it's turbocharged. The manual transmission is easy to shift, too.
At a relaxed pace, both the base and Turbo models are reasonably capable around turns. However, if you start pushing the car harder on twisty back roads, you'll notice that it's not as sharp or refined as most rivals. In addition, the steering is overly light and not especially communicative, and the suspension is easily upset by bumps and ruts. This translates to a harsh ride in normal driving situations. Hyundai says it has made improvements to the suspension and steering on the new Turbo R-Spec model. We haven't yet tested the 2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec, but we'll update this review once we have.