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Unhinged on the Left -- Hyundai Veloster is 3-Door Coupe Hatch

By Arv Voss, November 12th, 2011

Hyundai is on a roll with its appealing vehicles. The latest is the 2012 Veloster, a three-door asymmetrical coupe with a rear hatch.

The Veloster is unique in its styling and functional attributes, with a host of advanced technologies on board, all included in a value laden package starting at $17,300. The Veloster is available in three packages: Assurance, Essentials and Guidance.

In terms of styling, Veloster is a three-door hatch coupe with a single left door on the driver's side and two conventional hinge doors on the passenger right side. Veloster sports a bold signature grille, hood scoop, LED headlight accents and black "A"-pillars that tend to simulate a motorcycle visor.

A unique rear glass hatch with an integrated rear spoiler is set inboard of the wraparound tail lamps. The rear also features a blacked out diffuser with centered dual-chrome tip rectangular exhaust outlets. A backup camera and backup warning sensors are optionally available.

Veloster's interior design inspiration is drawn from sport motorcycles, with the dynamic center fascia taken from the bike's tank, the air vent design drawn from mechanically styled, wide motorcycle mufflers, while the floor console delivers a sporty and sleek profile.

There's a 7-inch touch screen, a technical, non-reflective grain on the instrument panel, and stylish, silver-colored grab handles. The Veloster offers two levels of audio systems as well, featuring Hyundai's first application of Gracenote technology and Pandora. There's also Bluetooth with voice recognition, cruise control and steering wheel audio controls.

A Gamma 1.6-liter, direct gas injected 16-valve inline four-cylinder engine with dual continuously variable valve timing delivers power for the 2012 Veloster. The engine generates 138 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 123 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,850 rpm. The diminutive engine is mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (Hyundai's first), with a Shiftronic manual shift mode.

My test 2012 Hyundai Veloster came with the EcoShift DCT transmission. It sported a Century White exterior with a Black interior and had a base sticker of $18,550.

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is an incredible compact vehicle that is not only innovative, but extremely attractive in its appearance, especially from the rear and side views. It comes with an almost unbelievable inventory of standard features and technology, with impressive option packaging that provides enhancements for personalization desires and requirements.

The ride quality is compliant, even with the optional 18-inch wheels and tires -- and the handling characteristics are sporty indeed. The power that's put out by the 1.6-liter four-cylinder motor is decidedly adequate to satisfy the car's mission statement, but the addition of turbocharging would definitely up the ante in the performance department. In other words, it could absolutely use more power in certain driving scenarios, such as uphill passing. Though Hyundai representatives were unable to verify that a turbo version was in the works, it seems almost certain that such a model can't be far from off in the Veloster's future.

The new Veloster is a most impressive compact vehicle that's sure to fill the bill for those consumers shopping for a sporty, yet economic and technologically innovative vehicle -- and its price is quite reasonable considering the almost unimaginable content.

Specifications

Base price $18,550 (as tested: $23,405)
Displacement 1.6-liter
Epa mileage rating 29 mpg city, 38 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 138 at 6300 rpm
Motor type 16-valve DOHC 4-cyl w/DI
Overall length 166.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 123 at 4850 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 4-passenger FWD compact coupe hatch
Wheelbase 104.3 in.
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