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2015 Hyundai Veloster REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/3/2017

Con: Not as sporty as it looks; harsh and noisy ride; slow base engine; limited rear-seat access and headroom.

Interior: What sets the 2015 Hyundai Veloster apart 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. The truncated opening is a bit low, though, so taller passengers will have to duck quite a bit when they get in.

The backseat has a decent amount of legroom, but the seat cushion is mounted quite low and headroom is limited by the sloping rear roof line. That same roof line also places the heads of occupants under the sun-warmed glass of the hatch. The deep trunk holds 15.5 cubic feet of cargo space under that hatch, and 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 looks a bit better than it feels. 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.

Body: The 2015 Hyundai Veloster is a four-passenger compact hatchback with three doors (one on the driver side and two on the passenger side) and four trim levels: base, RE:FLEX, Turbo R-Spec and Turbo.

The base Veloster comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, heated mirrors, full power accessories, 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 with voice commands.

The optional Style package adds 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, upgraded exterior and interior trim, foglights, leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter and an eight-speaker LG Dimension premium audio system. To this package the Technology package can be added. It includes rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control, a 115-volt household-style power outlet and a navigation system.

The RE:FLEX Edition trim level gets the contents of the base Veloster with the Style package (minus the sunroof) and adds different 18-inch wheels, foglights, LED taillights and leather upholstery.

The Veloster Turbo R-Spec includes the RE:FLEX Edition equipment (though it has leatherette upholstery rather than leather) and 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 that channels exhaust sounds through the stereo speakers.

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 Turbo Tech package adds the rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, automatic climate control, a 115-volt outlet and a navigation system.

Driving: Although the Veloster looks like a sporty hatchback, it doesn't really drive that way. The base model is just plain slow, especially when equipped with the automated manual transmission. Acceleration is better on the Turbo and Turbo R-Spec models, but their performance is off the pace of hot hatches like the Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI. It's not all bad, though, as the 201-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged engine is generally 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.

For city commutes, both the base and the Turbo Veloster feel adequately nimble, but if you start pushing the car harder on twisty back roads, disappointment sets in as the Veloster just isn't as sharp or communicative as most rivals. It's not a very comfortable car, either. If you drive on cracked streets with lots of potholes, the suspension will be easily upset by bumps and ruts. The harsh ride in the Turbo and R-Spec models might be acceptable if the Veloster was more fun around turns, but that's not an area where this hatchback excels.

What’s New: The 2015 Hyundai Veloster carries over unchanged.

The 2015 Hyundai Veloster (in base and RE:FLEX trim) comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that sends power to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automated manual known as DCT. With the manual, the Veloster produces 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. With the DCT, it is rated at 132 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque.

In Edmunds performance testing, a Veloster with the base 1.6-liter engine and a manual transmission went from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. That's about a second slower than the average for a budget-priced subcompact hatchback, and is definitely not swift. A DCT-equipped Veloster we tested did it in an even slower 10.2 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is pretty good, though, at 30 mpg combined for either transmission (26 city/35 highway for the manual and 27/36 for the DCT).

The Veloster Turbo and Turbo R-Spec come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft. The Turbo and R-Spec come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but the Turbo is also available with the six-speed DCT.

In Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped Turbo went from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, which is much more respectable than the base Veloster's time, but still about a second slower than the class average for a sport-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).

Safety: Every 2015 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). A rearview camera is standard, with rear parking sensors available as an optional extra in either the Technology or Turbo Tech package.

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 stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Veloster the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and roof-strength tests, with the second-highest rating of "Acceptable" for side-crash protection. The Veloster received the second lowest score of "Marginal" in the IIHS test for small-overlap frontal-impact protection. Its seat and head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

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.

Pro: Lots of features for the money; fuel-efficient engines; lengthy warranty.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 Hyundai Veloster is not as fun to drive as it looks, and its ride can be harsh. But with its ample features list, efficient engines and distinctive styling, this unusual hatchback remains an intriguing alternative to regular old economy cars.

Introduction: Just about any compact hatchback these days will take you where you want to go. Finding a car that allows you to have some fun at the same time, though, is harder to find. The 2015 Hyundai Veloster would seem to be a good prospect. It's distinctively styled and is available with a strong turbocharged engine, and its unconventional three-door setup (one door on the driver side, two on the passenger side) allows for easier access to the backseat.

The Veloster is also a pretty good value. Even the base model comes with a lot of standard equipment, and you get Hyundai's lengthy warranty coverage as part of the deal. Fuel economy is decent, too, as the base Veloster is rated at 30 mpg combined and the Turbo is rated at 27 mpg combined.

But if you're interested in the Veloster because you think its sporty looks promise sporty performance, you may also be disappointed. The standard four-cylinder Veloster is definitely slow, and the Turbo option, while quick, lags behind pretty much every hot hatch competitor. The Veloster's suspension is troublesome, too, as it transmits a lot of impacts into the cabin when you're driving on rough roads. There are also practical concerns. Cargo space is pretty small, as is the amount of rear-seat headroom.

While there aren't any other three-door rivals to compare with the 2015 Hyundai Veloster, there are plenty of two- and four-door competitors to consider. One of our favorites is the 2015 Ford Fiesta ST. Although you can't get it with an automatic transmission, it's a much more fun car to drive than the Veloster, thanks to superior performance and handling, and it's still pretty livable on a daily basis. The 2015 Kia Forte Koup, which can also be equipped with the same turbo engine that's in the Veloster, is another intriguing prospect. We're also fond of the lively 2015 Mazda 3 and the upscale 2015 Volkswagen Golf. Overall, the Veloster is a likable enough car, but its rivals strike us as more desirable overall.

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