by Deiondre van der Merwe
Rule of thumb: if you can choose it on Forza, it's probably got something to write home about. With Hyundai's Veloster N, you'll run out of paper pretty quickly. The Veloster N is an affordable challenger to the Volkswagen GTI and the Honda Civic Type R, and it glares in the face of the former. Like most hot hatchbacks, it enlists the help of a 2.0-liter turbo to get its wheels turning, and the 275 horses from the Performance Package do a fine job of it. While the inside of the Hyundai doesn't match the interior offerings from its German and Japanese rivals, what it lacks in luxury, it makes up for in fun. The Veloster N comes in at a much lower asking price than its main rival from Honda, enabling Hyundai to deliver a track-ready hatchback to more enthusiasts than ever before.
The Hyundai Veloster is unchanged for 2020.
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
The Veloster N's styling is truly unique amongst the pool of modern hot hatchbacks, and though the front end is relatively simple, the rear end has a lot going on. Dominating the face of the Veloster is a large gloss black grille that's not quite honeycomb, but gives off a similar effect, and a set of slim full-LED headlights round off the front perfectly. The rear end is where things start getting baroque, and you'll either love the back or hate it. The high-set full-LED taillights are filled with Y-shaped strips ranging in size; the icing on the outrageous cake is the flamboyant wing that rests right above them. Two large tailpipes poke out from either side of a sporty diffuser and the combined extravaganza sits on a set of 18-inch five-spoke wheels. 19-inch wheels are additionally available.
On par with the Volkswagen Golf GTI, but significantly smaller than the Honda Civic Type R, the Veloster N is just the right size to be nippy without sacrificing interior space. It runs 167.9 inches from front to back, 11.5 inches shorter than the Type R, and has a 104.3-inch wheelbase. A maximum width of 71.3 inches is attributable to its pronounced haunches, and the Veloster stands 55.1 inches tall on 18-inch wheels, or slightly lower when equipped with the available 19-inch wheels. In standard form, the hatchback has a maximum curb weight of 3,036 pounds, increasing to a maximum of 3,106 lbs when equipped with the Performance Package.
Hyundai makes a total of four exterior hues available for the Veloster N, and while the palette is limited, the colors offered range from understated to striking. Notably, all four colors are available at no extra cost. Chalk White and Ultra Black are the only exterior colors available for those who aren't particularly fond of bold colors, and Racing Red is one half of the adventurous selection. Our favorite is the Performance Blue, and we're assuming Hyundai shares the sentiment as nearly all of their PR is focused around a Veloster N splashed in the arresting shade.
Hyundai's core focus for the Veloster N wasn't on giving the best numbers, but on giving the best driving experience. This concept is driven home by their "BPM over RPM" outlook, and this is thanks to Albert Biermann's guiding hand within the project. The engineer previously in charge of BMW's M-division now heads up Hyundai's high-performance development, so the Veloster has been in good hands from the start. This isn't to say that the Veloster N takes all of its cues from its German rivals. Its 0-60 mph run takes 5.5 seconds in independent testing with the Performance Pack, which is in between the Golf GTI and the Civic Type R. Just one-tenth separates the Veloster N from the latter. The absence of an all-wheel-drive option is partially alleviated with the addition of a limited-slip differential and addition under the Performance Package that also delivers a bump in horsepower. Venture into N mode and the Veloster stiffens up and gets ready for abuse - quicker throttle responses and more lenient stability control join forces with stiffened shocks and a louder soundtrack from the exhaust. The result? Pure bliss.
Hyundai took the 2.0-liter four-pot out of the Sonata and dropped it into the Veloster N, adding a bigger turbo to the mix. The engine makes 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, making it slightly more powerful than the Golf GTI. It does fall behind the Type R's 306 horses, but it's around $9,000 cheaper, so it's worth remembering that the decrease in power comes with a decrease in debt. The Veloster N is a purist's dream, coming exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission that's likely to steal your heart. While the shifter may not be as fluid and weighty as the one found in the Type R, the Veloster is still ahead of most of its rivals in terms of snappy and obedient gear navigation. If you're an all-or-nothing kind of enthusiast, the Performance Package bumps the horsepower figure to 275 and adds a variable exhaust valve system. The eager 2.0-liter four-pot delivers a soundtrack that belongs somewhere on Spotify, and an auto rev-matching button is located right on the steering wheel for when you're feeling feisty. The dedicated shift lights in the cluster are a nice touch, too.
Three words define the Veloster N from behind the wheel. Fun, fun and fun. This is partly attributable to the fact that the daring hatchback takes its cues from motorsport like the WRC. Eager and agile into the corners even in standard guise, the optional limited-slip differential runs a tight ship and refuses to let the car come unglued from the road beneath it. You'll have to try extremely hard to find the land of understeer in the Veloster N - it may as well be Narnia. When in Normal mode, it becomes surprisingly mild-mannered, the engine becomes less offensive and tames the exhaust note along with it. That being said, it's not fit for brunch with the Queen of England in even its tamest mood, as all that stiffening and aggression we were talking about still shines through the cracks and rougher surfaces will make themselves known through the cabin. It's not completely terrible, the electronically controlled dampers mitigate any real discomfort, but it won't offer a ride quality as comfortable as a Golf. The steering is pleasantly weighted, but lacks a little in responsiveness. If you're planning on taking your Veloster N out on the track, it comes with a lap timer and shift time indicator, so if you grew up playing Need For Speed every day after school, this is your budget-friendly chance to experience it in reality.
The world of hot hatchbacks is home to enthusiasts that not only want performance, but want to avoid astronomical fuel bills while they're at it. The Veloster N delivers. Boasting EPA estimates of 22/29/25 mpg city/highway/combined, the Hyundai is on par with the Civic Type R's 22/28/25 mpg and slightly behind the lighter Golf GTI's 24/32/27 mpg estimates. When the 13.2-gallon fuel tank is full, the Veloster N will manage a range of 330 miles before you need to stop to fill up.
In between subtle German style and the in-your-face styling of the Type R, the inside of the Veloster N offers simplicity and modern style. But don't expect the same premium feel as its esteemed rivals. It's not horribly bland, but hard plastics are used liberally and the rear of the unique three-door setup is cramped, giving its rivals from Honda and Volkswagen the upper hand. A saving grace for the Veloster N's interior is that it keeps the race-feel alive with N-blue interior accents, and its infotainment system is a boon. While the interior may not be something to rave about, it's well put-together for its price point.
Better suited for front passengers, the Veloster N boasts plenty of space in the front, but not much in the back. The good news for all four occupants is that all of the seats are comfortable and supportive, especially those found in the front with side bolsters that embrace with commitment. We would have liked to see some sportier seats (as an option, at least), but the standard ones fare well in terms of comfort, if not boldness. There isn't much room in the rear for even the smallest of adults, but the third door attempts to make ingress and egress easier. It doesn't do it well, but it tries.
You're not going to find much in the way of premium materials inside of the Veloster N, and it's in the interior that we see where they cut the budget to make the track hero accessible to those on a budget. Black cloth upholstery is standard, and no option for leather upholstery is available. Blue interior accents are present throughout for a sportier look, including contrast stitching for the seats. The steering wheel and gearshift are the only leather-clad components on the inside of the Veloster N. If you can get past the hard plastics, all of the materials are durable and well-placed.
A coupe-like profile means that the Veloster N's trunk is slightly smaller than rivals, but not by astronomical amounts. Its 19.9 cubic feet of trunk space falls behind the Type R's 25.7 cubes. A total of 44.5 cubic feet can be had with all of the seats folded, so the Veloster N won't perform terribly in a pinch. In-cabin storage is decent thanks to a large glovebox and a center storage compartment under the climate control center. A small center console is enough to store at least 20 KitKat bars, and slim door pockets allow for a smartphone and a water bottle.
Once you look past the packaging, the Veloster N is laden with standard convenience features. Keyless entry and push-button start are at the top of the list and are followed by a tilt-and-telescopic multifunction steering wheel, a six-way adjustable driver's seat, an LED shift-timing indicator and rev-match control. Air conditioning is manually controlled via the dials at the bottom on the central cluster, and a 12V power outlet is standard. A basic suite of safety features includes a rearview camera, driver's blind-spot mirror, electronic stability control, traction control system and vehicle stability management. Safety features are ended off with a tire pressure monitoring system.
The infotainment system is easy to use and well laid-out, which is a plus for the Hyundai. An eight-inch touchscreen enables Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as SiriusXM and Bluetooth streaming through a premium eight-speaker Infinity sound system. An aux-input is included for the old-school occupant and dual-charging USB is standard. A 4.2-inch color screen is located in the instrument cluster for additional information. The absence of a digital instrument cluster makes the fight against the Type R even more difficult, but the user-friendly nature of the Veloster N's infotainment system rescues the situation a bit.
The 2020 model hasn't been recalled for anything as yet, but the 2019 model was at the center of a recall for the possibility of the driver's door opening in the event of a side-impact crash. As usual, Hyundai outshines the competition with its warranty offering, and the Veloster N's basic warranty is valid for five years or 60,000 miles. This bests both rivals from Honda and Volkswagen, and it doesn't end there. The ten-year or 100,000-mile drivetrain warranty is double what Honda offers for the Type R and the seven-year corrosion warranty isn't far off, either. Roadside assistance is standard for five years.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA have crash-tested or rated the Veloster N in terms of safety.
A bit of an oddball when it comes to safety features, the Veloster N only offers the most basic lot of features, with no notable driver-assists in sight. Standard safety features are inclusive of a rearview camera, driver's blind-spot mirror, and vehicle stability management. Electronic stability control and a traction control system join the list along with an anti-lock braking system and a tire pressure monitoring system. A four-airbag system includes driver and front passenger airbags along with seat-mounted side-impact airbags.
The Veloster N is a lovable hot hatchback, with bold exterior styling and an eccentric soul at a more affordable price than its esteemed rivals. Everybody loves an underdog, and that's just what the Veloster N is. A track bravura that flies under the radar, Hyundai's WRC-inspired hatchback offers an engaging drive that's further amplified by the optional Performance Package which adds a limited-slip differential and a 25 hp power boost. The corner-carving Veloster N brings a racetrack feel to a daily commute, and that's all that enthusiasts can really ask for at this price point. Excellent handling dynamics, a powerful engine and frugal fuel economy figures make the Veloster N worth considering if you're looking for a fun hatchback on a budget and its most ideal for young performance enthusiasts who are just getting into it. In comparison to rivals, the Hyundai skimps a little on premium materials on the interior and the inside of the Veloster N is pretty bland, but its eager personality makes the sacrifice worth it.
With just one trim level available, pricing is a simple affair. The Veloster N's starting MSRP of $27,600 is around $9,400 more affordable than the Type R's $36,995 sticker. Given the frugality of it to start with, we'd go ahead and add the Performance Package for $2,100 which brings the final asking price up to $29,700. Both prices exclude the $995 destination and handling fee.
The 2020 Hyundai Veloster N range comprises one trim. A 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot is the driving force behind the three-door hatchback, and it's mated to a six-speed manual transmission as standard. Exclusively available in FWD, the only option to beef up the drivetrain would be adding the limited-slip differential.
Full-LED lights grace the front and rear of the car, and it rests on a set of 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, with a 19-inch option available. Standard-fitted conveniences are inclusive of keyless entry, push-button start, a six-way adjustable driver's seat and a tilt-and-telescopic multifunction steering wheel. Rev-match control and an LED shift-timing indicator add to the sporty feel of the hatchback. Manual air conditioning and a 12V power outlet round off the list of standard features. The infotainment offering of the Veloster N is one of its stronger points, and an eight-inch touchscreen enables Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM and Bluetooth streaming through an eight-speaker Infinity sound system.
We wouldn't call the safety suite generous, but it's manageable. Features are inclusive of a rearview camera, electronic stability control, and a traction control system. Vehicle stability management and a driver's blind-spot mirror are standard along with an anti-lock braking system and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Only one additional package is available for the Hyundai Veloster N, and that's the Performance Package. It's certainly worth opting for, and it adds a limited-slip differential, a variable exhaust system and 19-inch wheels hugged by Pirelli P Zero tires. It also adds 13.6-inch front rotors and 12.4-inch rear rotors, and increases the standard power output by 25 hp to 275 horses.
With just one model to choose from, we'd recommend opting for the Veloster N in its most famous hue, Performance Blue. We'd also recommend adding the Performance Package for the limited slip differential, upgraded exhaust system and bigger wheels. This package also bumps the power up slightly. Adding these two options to the list results in a superbly well-rounded hot hatchback from Hyundai for a little over $30k.
The Type R has some tough competition and it comes straight out of Korea. While the Hyundai's 250 hp pales a little in comparison to the Honda's 306 horses, its $9,395 lighter price tag certainly does not. They go head to head in terms of exterior styling, both boasting sharp and futuristic design. The N allows for customizable drive modes and a variable exhaust valve that are both absent from the Type R, but the Honda takes the cake when we evaluate interiors thanks to the use of premium materials and pops of color to keep things interesting. The Veloster N allows for a more personal driving experience, but the Honda wins in terms of refinement and a premium-clad interior. The better car depends on your budget and what you're looking for out of a hot hatchback.
Going up against Volkswagen's flagship performance hatchback takes guts, but the Veloster N does it without any shivering at the knees. German interiors are historically hard to match and the Hyundai unsurprisingly falls behind the GTI in this regard. The categories in which the GTI outshine the Veloster N are its premium interior and better fuel economy. The Hyundai takes the cake with its engaging and immersive experience from behind the wheel, and it offers character that is absent from the Wolfsburg-hailing contender. If you're purely focused on performance, the Veloster N is for you, but if you're after some added refinement, the Golf GTI would be the better bet.