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Reverse Halo: 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Test Drive

When most automakers make a statement vehicle, it’s usually an expensive, high-performance vehicle — something along the lines of, say, a Chevrolet Corvette or an Acura NSX. Such halo vehicles are great examples of brand expression, but they’re often priced out of the reach of average buyers. Looking to put its most expressive vehicle in the hands of any driver, Hyundai has taken a “reverse halo” approach with the Veloster since 2011, and the quirky three-door hatchback ushered in its second generation for the 2019 model year (after skipping 2018).

The 2019 Hyundai Veloster builds on the previous model with a more stylish and aggressive take on the asymmetrical hatchback. The Veloster has been a gateway vehicle in the Hyundai portfolio with 70 percent of early sales being conquests from other automakers, which is a pretty big deal in a niche sport compact segment commanding about two percent of all new-car sales. In addition to traditional rivals like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Hyundai also expects the new Veloster to attract the eyes of buyers also considering small CUVs like the Chevrolet Trax and Toyota C-HR.

To see how this hatchback stacks up, we traveled to the Texas hill country outside of Austin to sample the extensive 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo lineup.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Exterior

The original Veloster was defined by its unique styling, but Hyundai says that the addition of the Kona crossover in its lineup actually allowed designers to get even more expressive with the 2019 Hyundai Veloster. Since the line between hatchbacks and small crossovers continues to blur, buyers looking for a stylish family vehicle will probably opt for the Kona while buyers looking for a fun, sporty and stylish coupe-like experience will still have the Veloster.

Like the previous model, the 2019 Veloster still has a “2+1” door layout with a single door on the driver’s side and two doors on the passenger side (with a hidden handle for the rear door), and the new design is longer and wider giving it a meaner stance. Every angle of this hatchback reveals some sort of eye-catching detail starting up front with the LED daytime running lights, functional lower air vents and a unique take on Hyundai’s signature cascading grille. Whereas the rounded wheel arches of the previous Veloster left the car looking a bit pudgy, this new design has less defined arches but prominent body creases to create a sportier, more athletic profile. Finally, the rear angle of the Veloster has improved with a flatter, lower roofline, horizontal taillights and a more squared-off fascia.

Sadly, the bright color palette has been toned down (no more bright greens, yellows and oranges) and there is no current plan for a return of matte finishes on the Veloster, but as you can see on this tester, certain models are available with a black roof for a two-tone look. Furthermore, each trim level has distinct wheel options, but all Turbo models are easily distinguished with its red anodized-look accents in the front fascia and the round, center-mounted exhaust outlets in the rear and a “Turbo” badge on the rocker panel.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Interior

While the exterior has gotten even more extreme when compared to other compact hatchbacks, the interior of the 2019 Hyundai Veloster has been toned down a bit, which is no insult to this car. The overall layout now has more of a familiar look with other Hyundai products, but it has standout features to display its sportiness such as the deep-dish steering wheel (reminiscent of the fifth-gen Chevy Camaro) and mix of materials and colorful accents that are unique to each trim level. The coolest aspect of the new Veloster is the asymmetrical design of the Turbo Ultimate’s cabin, which splits the cabin by using black trim for the driver’s compartment and white trim on the passenger side; even the door panels are different colors!

Despite its lower roofline, the new Veloster actually has more interior space than its predecessor including added front legroom and shoulder room and a half-inch more rear headroom. At 6’1″, the rear door is hard to get in and out of, but once inside, there is plenty of headroom and legroom for all four passengers. Unfortunately, there is also plenty of hard plastic throughout the cabin even on this loaded Ultimate trim level that gets upgraded features such as leather seats, an eight-inch touch screen infotainment system, eight-speaker Infinity audio system and a full-color head-up display. This HUD screen offers a variety of information and even changes to a tachometer in Sport mode, but more importantly, it isn’t affected by polarized sunglasses. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on all trim levels, while the Qi wireless charging pad is only found on the 2.0 Premium and Turbo Ultimate.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Powertrain

Although Hyundai is expecting a take-rate that will be evenly split between Turbo and non-Turbo buyers, we weren’t able to sample the base Veloster’s 2.0-liter engine. This did allow us to focus on several versions of the Veloster Turbo ranging from the Turbo R-Spec with its B&M manual shifter up to the luxury-minded Turbo Ultimate you see here. All 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo models are powered by the 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder sending 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque the front wheels. The Turbo Ultimate comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, but this tester was equipped with the optional seven-speed dual clutch automatic, which is the most efficient version of the new Veloster with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway**.

Winding through the rolling hills outside of Austin, Texas proved how much added tuning Hyundai put into the new Veloster. The curb weight is only slightly more than the outgoing model, but the overall handling has been improved as have the steering, braking and ride comfort. This was all achieved through design changes to suspension and steering components. Torque Vectoring Control is standard on all 2019 Hyundai Veloster models, and it further aids cornering performance. For optimal handling, the R-Spec and Ultimate with manual transmission get standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer performance tires

Hyundai doesn’t give an exact times, but several unscientific runs have us guessing this car can accelerate from 0-60 mph in the mid-five second range. If that’s not good enough, give Hyundai until the end of the year, and the automaker will launch its first performance car in the U.S., the Veloster N. Even though the Veloster Turbo is designed to be a sporty car, the cabin is surprisingly quiet at highway speeds… but it doesn’t have to be. Turning on the Active Engine Sound helps create sportier soundtrack for Veloster Turbo occupants.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Safety

The 2019 Hyundai Veloster just went on sale, so it has not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but it does come with segment-first standard features like forward collision-avoidance assist and lane keep assist. The Turbo Ultimate also adds standard Pedestrian Detection, rain-sensing wipers and smart cruise control (on DCT-equipped models).

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Overall

A halo vehicle is one that focuses on automaker’s image, pride and emotion, and the 2019 Hyundai Veloster is exactly that. Only instead of being a high-priced car, the new Veloster stays true to one of Hyundai’s core attributes: value. The 2019 Veloster went on sale in May, and it is offered in five versions – 2.0, 2.0 Premium, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo and Turbo Ultimate – with prices starting at $18,500*. The Veloster Turbo starts at $22,900, with this fully loaded Turbo Ultimate having an as-tested price of $29,160. Combining the expressive styling, enjoyable performance and attainable pricing, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster is a one-of-a-kind halo vehicle.

Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Hyundai dealership and check out the all-new 2019 Hyundai Veloster today!

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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