Saturday, October 19, 2019

Quick Drive: Hyundai Veloster N w/Performance Package

Hyundai Veloster N driving in Oregon
Photo by Doug Berger
Hyundai revamped its funky Veloster for 2019. It maintained much of the said funkiness from the previous model while offering up new style and new features. We always enjoyed the Veloster Turbos we've driven, as reviewed in the past. When the latest generation was announced, we were told a high-performance model was going to come out in its new N lineup. I got to drive the Veloster N with the Performance Package, and must say that it's at the top of the hot hatch game.

Yes, it looks different but its shape is certainly reminiscent of the previous model. It still retains the third door on the side. It's still less boxy than a VW GTI. It's still sporty looking. However, that's about where similarities end.

Previous Veloster Turbos made 201 hp. Hyundai still offers what I'll refer to as the standard Veloster Turbo with the latest redesign, but now there's two notches above that. There's the Veloster N, which makes 250 hp and 260 lbs/ft of torque, and the top-of-the-line Veloster N with the Performance Package offering a stout 275 hp and 260 lbs/ft of twist. On N-spec cars, those ponies are put down to the front wheels via a well-gated six-speed manual—the only transmission available. The N Perpackage also gets you rev-matching for smooth shifts, selectable e-LSD and torque vectoring for improved cornering, a variable valve exhaust system with plenty of snap/crackle/pop sounds, and selectable suspension damping, steering, and drive modes. Opt for the Performance Package, and buyers also get 19-inch alloy wheels, Pirelli summer tires, larger N-specific brakes, and some interior and exterior trim bits, too.

Hyundai Veloster N interior

Speaking of, the interior has been upgraded and refined compared to the previous version. Everything feels more modern and sleek; it feels more like the Elantra GT we tested. Everything fit me quite well at 5'7", but there seemed like plenty of room for larger drivers, too although one journalist said his right kneed made contact with the center console.

My drive experience was part of the Northwest Automotive Press Association's Run to the Sun drive event, where we drove 25 different fun, sporty cars. This Veloster N had a sticker price of $29,920, making it the least expensive car there (the Rolls Royce we drove was upwards of $450,000!), but the Veloster was one of the most fun cars to drive on the entire event—no lie. No, it wasn't as fast as the 755 hp Corvette ZR-1, it wasn't as luxurious as the $172,195 AMG G63, but I loved it for the reason I love small cars: It's nimble, quick, tossable, and presents the illusion of speed. Well, frankly, it's more than an illusion. Car and Driver clocked the car at 0-60 in 5.5 second and a 1/4 mile time of 14.2. For comparison's sake, a 2018 Subaru WRX (with the manual and AWD) was recorded at 6.2 seconds by Motor Trend. So yeah, it's quick.

But it's more than just sheer numbers—it's a sensory experience in part to that glorious variable valve exhaust system. It makes all the right noises. Much the way a Fiat 500 Abarth has me grinning with each shift, the Veloster N had me smiling the entire time I drove it. This car was so much fun. The e-LSD really bites into the corners while undertaking the twisties (those Perelli P Zero tires help, too), and there was plenty of thrust. The multi-selectable driving modes presented noticable changes, as well. I spent most of my time in the sportiest of settings. It felt hardcore enough to be more than just sporty, but never jarring the way a Focus RS or Mitsubishi Lancer EVO could be. It was also the only manual transmission-equipped ride there. My one criticism was clutch uptake, particularly in first gear. I killed the car, and had heard that nearly everyone who drove it killed it in first initially, too.

Hyundai Veloster N in Columbia River Gorge
Photo by Doug Berger
There aren't a whole lot of brand-new cars I'd be willing to spend $30,000 greenbacks on. However, the Veloster N would be one of them. It'd been a while since I drove a car so entertaining and so good at this kind of price. This is a vehicle I could own someday.

THE BASICS: 2019 Hyundai Veloster N w/Performance Package
MSRP As Tested: $29,920
Engine: 2.0-liter 16V DOHC turbocharged four-cylinder with direct injection
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Horsepower: 275
Torque: 260 lb/ft
Curb Weight: 3,036 lbs
Wheelbase: 104.3"
Overall Length: 166.9"
Suspension: F: MacPhearson strut
R: Independent Multilink w/stabilizer bar
Brakes: F: 13.6" Disc w/ABS
R: 12.4" Disc w/ABS
Wheels: 19" alloys
Tires: 235/35R19 Perelli P Zero HN
Fuel Economy (MPG): 22 city, 25 combined, 29 highway
Fuel Type: 92 octane gas
Final Point of Assembly:Ulsan, Korea

No comments: