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Motoring: Not much velocity with the Hyundai Veloster

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | February 13th, 2012

One of the cars I was most looking forward to testing was the Hyundai Veloster, and the main reason behind it is its looks.

Just look at it; nothing in our market — especially for under $30,000 — looks this cool. It has a clever three-door design, which makes it very practical, and with its wild styling, it turns heads at every traffic light. If you're looking for a poser, this is it.

If you're looking for a sports car that will make you giggle every time you go for a drive, you might need to look elsewhere, at least for now.

You see, for the time being, the only engine offered with the Veloster is a normally aspirated, 1.6-litre, four-cylinder motor (the same motor you'll find under the hood of the new Hyundai Accent) that produces just 138 hp. Couple this motor with the task to rotate 20-inch wheels via the laziest dualclutch gearbox on the planet, and the end result is a car that is not at all exciting to drive. For a car that looks this good, it is remarkably unremarkable to drive.

Find some twisty roads and you'll learn that this little coupe can handle quite well, but you never have enough grunt to pull you out of a corner quickly. As a driver's car, it isn't there yet.

As a comfortable, practical, everyday cruiser, it is not bad. The seats might not be the best in the business, but they're not bad. It isn't the quietest car either, but since it has a great stereo, you can drown out any unwanted noises.

The fuel economy is quite good. I averaged 7.8 litres/100km in my week.

I'd be happy to burn more fuel if the car was more exciting to drive. That car is coming. At last month's Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai launched the Veloster Turbo, which has over 200 hp. So it seems the cool body and the willing chassis will finally have an engine that can do them justice. I can't wait.

If you can't wait for the Turbo model to hit the showrooms, you can go to a Hyundai dealership right now and pick up the boring version. With prices starting at just $18,999, this car offers a lot of style for the money. So if you're more interested in style than performance, this is your car. If you're looking for a first car for your son or daughter, this again is your car, because it looks cool, which is important for new drivers, yet it is not fast enough to get them in trouble. Maybe there is a point to this current version of the Veloster after all.
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