The 2019 Hyundai Veloster is a revitalized version of a type of car many mainstream automakers are slowly giving up on entirely: the affordable sports car. Rivals like the Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen GTI spring to mind, but, generally speaking, car companies crank out more and more SUVs and crossovers while this once thriving segment dwindles in numbers. That’s too bad, because it takes only a few minutes behind the wheel to realize the crossover and SUV crowd are missing out on a lot of driving fun.
Styling is subjective, though we’d say Hyundai’s design team did an excellent job transferring the Veloster’s unique three-door design into a revitalized new shape. The 2019 Veloster is 0.8-inches longer and 0.4-inches wider than before, though the most noticeable changes include the large cascading front grille, along with a cleaner and more aggressive look at the rear. The new version looks like a cross between a sport coupe and, say, a high-end sneaker. It stands out, and that’s a good thing in a world ruled by crossovers.
Like the exterior, the cabin gets a thorough redo for the 2019 model year. The overall control layout is logical and getting accustomed to the touchscreen infotainment is quick and painless. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard, a major plus point for tech-savvy car buyers in this segment. Some cabin plastics are hard and look cheap, especially the panels on the upper half of the doors, exactly where you’d rest an arm with the windows down during a sunny summer drive.
But it’s the dynamic bits that make the biggest contribution. Rather than removing sport-tuned (i.e. more expensive parts) from the car to keep the price low, the Veloster receives mechanical upgrades that help sharpen the handling and provide a more connected feel to the road.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to test that base model during the press launch in Austin, Texas. Instead, we sampled two variations of the Veloster Turbo: a fully-loaded Turbo Ultimate DCT with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and a Turbo R-Spec fitted with a six-speed manual. Both come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm.
With all that torque available down low, and an impressively flat torque curve, the Veloster Turbo models packs more punch than the horsepower figure suggests. Acceleration when powering around tight corners, or merging into Austin’s surprisingly fickle rush-hour traffic, is strong and purposeful.
Hyundai put some real thought into this car, and deserves credit for not dumbing down the mechanicals of the 2019 Veloster. The revised suspension pays dividends, and the turbo motor punches above the weight its raw numbers would suggest. Not to diminish our enthusiasm for the Veloster Turbo at all, but we’re now even more excited to see what the Veloster N can do later this year when it arrives with 74 additional horsepower.