The Hyundai Veloster, a new car for 2012 has been ‘a car of interest’ here in The Garage, but until now we haven’t reported on the latest from the Korean automaker. The Veloster takes the place of the discontinued Tiburon, meaning it slots below the larger, more powerful, rear drive Genesis Coupe. Hyundai sees its main competitors as the MINI Cooper, VW Beetle, and Scion tC. I’m a little skeptical of much cross-shopping between the MINI and the Veloster, but the Scion is the most obvious target. Hyundai has been on a roll, so it should come as no surprise the Veloster has some unique tricks. The car is a true three-door coupe (unlike the Saturn SC’s, the rear door can open independently), is lighter than the MINI and tC, and boasts some impressive standard features.
At its debut, all Velosters share the same engine, a 1.6L direct-injected four rated at 138hp-hardly earth scorching, but remember, the Veloster has a curb weight of on 2,584lbs, around 4oolbs less than the Scion. A Veloster with a six-speed manual is priced at $17,300USD, while buyers opting for a six-speed dual clutch automated manual has a starting price of $18,500. In typical Hyundai fashion, there is a generous list of standard equipment. Read on to see:
A 7″ touchscreen display featuring Gracenote Technology (iPod album cover art, voice recognition), six-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio with iPod and USB jacks, Pandora Internet radio capability, Bluetooth, Blue Link telematics (Hyundai’s version of GM’s OnStar), 17″ alloys, air and full power accessories.
Style Package (adds $2,000)
Adds 18″ alloys, exterior/interior trim upgrades, fog lights, panoramic sunroof, eight speaker stereo with external amp and subwoofer, leatherette seat bolsters, and alloy pedals.
Tech Package (adds $2,000, Style Package Required)
Unique 18″ alloys, back-up warning sensors, navigation, rearview camera, proximity key entry and push button start.
No question, the Veloster offers a lot for the money. How much fun it is behind the wheel remains to be seen, so watch this space. You’ll recall I started the article questioning if the MINI Cooper was really a viable competitor to the Veloster. So for fun, I thought I would try to configure a MINI to the exact spec as a base Veloster, no packages added. To be equal with the Veloster, I had to add 17″ wheels and an iPod adapter, which brought the price for a comparable MINI a staggering $4,650 higher than the most basic Veloster.
MINI purists are likely howling in laughter at me, but consider this scenario. A young car buyer seeking a small, sporty ride desires the latest tech features at an affordable price. The MINI Cooper, in comparable form is nearly $22,000, the Veloster, $17,300. It may not be as cute, charming, or handle like a go-kart (or does it?), but for the first time car buyer, that is one heck of a price difference. Factor in a longer warranty and a more extensive dealer network,Ã‚Â tell me-are you still howling in laughter?