The Hyundai Veloster N may be a relatively new player in the hot hatch game, but it's been doing an excellent job of showing that you don't need to own the most expensive German or Japanese offering to have a load of fun. Like its direct rivals - the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf GTI - it makes use of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that, thanks to an update, now develops 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque as standard. But with the Honda Civic Type R being refreshed soon and an all-new Golf GTI on the way from Wolfsburg, its job is going to be more difficult than ever. Still, the South Korean brand has surprised us before, especially with this spicy hatch. So will the USA love the new Hyundai Veloster N or have its updates made it too expensive to consider over established giants of the sector? Hint: it's not too expensive.
2021 sees the new Veloster N come standard with last year's Performance package. As such, you get 19-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber, an electronic limited-slip differential, a variable valved exhaust, and a 25-hp boost in power. Other improvements include additional safety equipment as standard, and an upgraded eight-inch display with navigation. Finally, the addition of a new eight-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission is big news, and up to 278 lb-ft can be unleashed temporarily with turbo overboost. It brings with it steering-mounted paddle shifters and launch control. Golf GTI, be worried.
See trim levels and configurations:
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
There is no angle from which the exterior of the 3-door Hyundai Veloster N looks particularly bland. A massive grille is framed by a pair of full LED headlights with projectors, while a massaged hood, gloss black mirror caps, and a sloping roofline make it look more like a small coupe than a hot hatch. Speaking of the roof, there's a huge rear spoiler on it with an integrated brake light that adds just the right amount of rally-style porn. That wing leads to LED taillights, some fake vents, an oversized faux diffuser, and a pair of exhaust tips with aggressive slots cut out of them. 19-inch wheels are the new standard, upgrading from the 18s of yesteryear.
The dimensions of the Hyundai Veloster N are rather compact, with length measuring 167.9 inches. The wheelbase spans 104.3 inches while width is rated at 71.3 inches. Height is 54.9 inches, while curb weight on the manual version has a rating of 3,106 pounds. Opt for the DCT variant and curb weight starts at 3,247 lbs.
There are only four paint options available with the Veloster N, but the good news is that all four of these colors are offered at no cost. You get Chalk White, Racing Red, Ultra Black, and Performance Blue, with the latter being the color most often associated with this vehicle. Although an attractive powder blue shade, we think that the Veloster N deserves something racier. Thus, we'd opt for red on ours. If you don't choose red paint, you do get red accents along the side sills and along the lower front bumper, though.
The Veloster N may only have a 2.0-liter engine, but the performance from this turbocharged four-pot is remarkable. For 2021, the Veloster N is only offered in its most powerful guise, with 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Sending all that power to the front wheels is a six-speed manual gearbox, or if you really want to embarrass the GTI next to you at the lights, an optional eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. With the former, you can expect a 0-60 mph time of around 5.8 seconds (5.6 with the DCT), but real-world tests have shown that you can expect even lower times if you don't fluff the launch. What about top speed? Well, Hyundai claims that the Veloster N is limited to 155 mph, but again, some real-world testing will show that you can comfortably expect at least 10 mph on top of that. It's not all about straight-line speed though. The Veloster N also has electronically controlled suspension and Pirelli rubber, so you can have just as much fun going around corners as you can in a drag race.
The only engine offered with the 2021 Veloster N is a pretty potent little four-banger. It's a turbocharged 2.0-liter motor that develops 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, all of which is channeled to the front axle via a six-speed manual transmission as standard. Optionally available is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, but let's look at the stick shift first. We love that a manual transmission is still offered here, but we do find that this unit is a little BMW-esque; it's a little vague and not the slickest we've ever had. That said, it is smooth and has a little bit of that lovely notchy feel that satisfies the purist. What won't satisfy the purist is the automatic rev-matching feature, but it's great for making the novice feel like a driving god and you can deactivate it if you like.
On the other hand, you have the DCT. This is a brilliant transmission that is crisp, sharp, and remarkably quick to respond whether you're shifting up or down. The paddles have a lovely click to them too, but leaving the 'box to its own devices is similarly enjoyable. Shifts are well-timed and smooth, with varying aggression depending on your drive mode. The N Grin Shift function can briefly increase torque output to 278 lb-ft thanks to turbocharger overboost.
In terms of the engine, power delivery is smooth yet torquey, and you get that spiky feeling that makes a turbocharged engine so exciting. Yet it's not so curvilinear that you feel afraid of jumping on the power early. You don't need to feather the throttle to get the power down and getting going from a standstill is simple. Overtaking is a pleasure too, but we aren't big fans of the synthetic noises pumped into the cabin via the speakers. After all, what's the point of including a variable valved exhaust if you're going to dilute the exhaust harmonics with artificial sounds?
Forget about those drag races you've seen where Hyundai demolishes Volkswagen in a straight line. With a new GTI on the way, these tests may soon be dated, but more importantly, this car is styled like a rally car and the driving experience evokes that same love of aggressive cornering. It handles remarkably well with flat cornering thanks to an electronically controlled suspension. Lift-off oversteer is possible and easy to control, but this is a car that maintains a great balance between playful fun and sharp focus. Concentrate on where you want to place the car, turn in, and let the electronic LSD handle all the details. This thing just grips and grips, with the grip limit well telegraphed and easy to anticipate. Once you eventually get there, tapping off the gas slightly tightens your line and allows you to exit with minimal wheelspin. Yet it's not a hardcore rally racer that you can't enjoy every day. Sure, it's a little stiff over corrugated bumps and large undulations, but not so harsh that you feel like your kidneys are bouncing in your ribcage. Overall, this is a great package for the enthusiast, but it is lacking the refinement and comfort that a GTI offers. For some, that's just another feather in the cap of this remarkably well-sorted boy racer.
According to the EPA, the manual version of the Veloster N will manage 22/28/25 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With a 13.2-gallon gas tank, you can expect approximately 330 miles of range on a full tank with mixed driving. Interestingly, the DCT auto is actually less efficient, with the EPA giving it a rating of 20/27/22 mpg on the same cycles.
The interior of the Veloster N is prettier than it was last year, thanks to the standard inclusion of bucket seats up front. However, that's the only thing that really seems upmarket in the cabin. The upholstery is a black fabric only, and there are plenty of hard, cheap, and nasty plastics scattered throughout the cabin. Nevertheless, there are some cool features like a shift indicator and colored seatbelts. You also get an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display with an Infinity audio system, push-button ignition, and a chunky sports steering wheel. It's not the most lavish cabin around, but it does give you the impression that this is a car that is built for driving fun, not a car built to satisfy Instagram influencers.
The Veloster N is a four-seater, but thanks to that sloping roofline and minimal legroom behind the front seats, we wouldn't recommend putting adults in the back. In front, the six-way driver's seat offers a good driving position with decent visibility out the front. Checking your blind spots is a little trickier, and the rear window is akin to a letterbox in terms of size. Nevertheless, it's not all bad in here. The seats are supportive and comfy and you feel connected to the car. Front occupants also have good headroom and getting in and out is easy. If you have kids that fit in the back, the third door makes ingress and egress easier for them too. It's just a pity that refinement levels on the road don't match those of the GTI.
If you're looking for customization levels similar to those in an Audi or BMW, you're going to be disappointed. Just one color configuration is offered: black fabric. Fortunately, it is spiced up with some contrast stitching in white, Performance Blue seatbelts, and some faux aluminum accents on the door-release grips, seats, steering wheel, and gear-lever surround. The steering wheel is also clad in leather, as is the shifter itself, while the pedals are fashioned from alloy. With plenty of hard plastics, it's a little bit disappointing to sit here if you've just gotten out of something like a GTI, but fancier materials would also have meant a higher base price.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Veloster N offers compromised cargo space. The opening is narrow and high, making loading tricky, and with only 19.9 cubic feet of volume, it'll take some creative packing to fit enough luggage for a weekend away. Fortunately, you can fold the rear seats in a 60/40 split to open up an area of 44.5 cubic feet.
In the cabin, you'll find a large glovebox, narrow door pockets with beverage holders, four cupholders, center armrest storage, and a little area in the center console for your phone and/or wallet.
As standard, the Veloster N boasts LED projector headlights, heated wing mirrors, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, automatic climate control, cruise control, a 4.2-inch color TFT driver display in the instrument cluster, keyless entry with push-button ignition, electronically controlled suspension, remote start via an app, a shift indicator, a variable valved exhaust system, a lap-timer, and on-board diagnostics. Safety equipment includes forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, brake assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The infotainment system consists of an eight-inch touchscreen display hooked up to an eight-speaker Infinity sound system. It offers SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth with voice control, aux connectivity, a pair of USB ports, navigation, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The good news is that the system is intuitive and easy to navigate, but the bad news is that the screen seems a little small compared to the offerings found in many new vehicles. Nevertheless, it looks decent and doesn't dominate the focal points of the cabin the way so many others do. This is a driver's car, and a big screen would be an unwanted distraction in such a machine.
Thus far, neither the current model nor the 2020 version of the Veloster N have suffered any recalls. The last issue to present itself pertained to the 2019 model - this was for a driver's door that could open in a side crash, but the same problem has not resurfaced.
In terms of warranty coverage, Hyundai once again leads the competition with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. You also get rust perforation cover for the first seven years and roadside assistance for the first five, both of which are provided without a mileage limit. Finally, Hyundai also includes three years/36,000 miles of trouble-free motoring thanks to an impressive complimentary scheduled maintenance package.
Thus far, the NHTSA has not gotten around to crash tests on the Veloster N hatchback, but don't let that deter you. The IIHS is arguably more thorough and has tested the 2021 Veloster. The agency was so impressed with this hatch that it won a 2020 Top Safety Pick award. However, the headlights were rated as Acceptable at best.
Much like with Honda, all available safety features are included as standard on the 2021 Veloster N. As such, you get forward collision detection with autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, brake assist, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, driver attention warning, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. With a nod to pedestrian safety, the Veloster N is also provided with 2.5-mph bumpers, which can deform in crashes at that speed without lasting damage. However, you won't find advanced driver aids like adaptive cruise control here.
Based on the simple facts, this review of the Veloster N may lead you to believe that this is a car with a single-minded focus on performance and little interest in anything else. The interior, although neatly laid out, is riddled with cheap materials and hard plastics. The infotainment screen is unfashionably average in size, the only choices you have relate to the color of the paint and the type of transmission, and there's not much in the way of second-row passenger space or cargo volume. It also lacks the refinement of some rivals and may seem a bit unrefined. But if those are the details you're focusing on, then you've missed the point of this car. This isn't meant to be a one-size-fits-all generic product for the masses. This is a car built for the enthusiast. It accelerates and handles like a sports car and provides everything you need in such a machine and nothing you don't. Furthermore, it is affordable, and making it more a mix of luxury and performance would have compromised that. This is a great car, and the world needs more like it.
2021's Veloster N is almost five grand more expensive than the 2020 version, but you are getting a lot more for your money. With a base price of $32,250 - before a $995 freight charge - it's still cheaper than a Civic Type R. If you want the DCT transmission, that adds just $1,500 to the base MSRP. No other meaningful charged options are offered though - this car comes fully loaded as standard.
The 2021 Hyundai Veloster N is only offered in one model. It comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot developing 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels exclusively, with your choice of either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic controlling gearshifts. Along with the ability to do 0-60 sprints in the sub-six-second bracket and a top speed of 155 mph, you'll get features like heated wing mirrors with manual folding, an onboard diagnostics app, remote start, keyless entry with push-button ignition, electronically controlled suspension, a variable valved exhaust system, LED headlights and taillights, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, and 19-inch wheels. Other features include an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display and an eight-speaker Infinity audio setup. Four paint colors are offered, but other avenues of customization are not available.
There aren't many ways to alter the feisty hatch, as it's pretty well equipped from the factory. But you can spec the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission instead of the standard six-speed manual, which will add $1,500 to the price of the Veloster N. Alternatively, you can get miscellaneous items like a cargo net for 50 bucks, carpeted floor mats for $155, or an interior lighting kit for $250.
There's only one model on offer but you do have a choice of transmission. While the eight-speed DCT is certainly the quickest way to make progress down the road, we're still suckers for a manual gearbox, and that's the one we'd have. The fact that this choice saves you $1,500 is just a bonus, and we'd spend that money on some proper track tires so that you can fully exploit the abilities of this hot hatch. In terms of color choices, we'd go with red or black so that the red accents that are equipped as standard don't give off too much of an overt vibe. Beyond that, there's really not much you can change, so just enjoy the car and smile smugly at GTI buyers who spent too much on a slower car.
The Honda Civic Type R is also powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger, but this one is far more powerful, with outputs of 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Like the Veloster N, power goes to the front axle only, and you also get fake engine noises in the cabin along with a questionable level of quality in terms of trims and materials used therein. However, you clearly have more power, and there's a better, notchier feel to this six-speed manual. The Civic Type R is faster in a straight line and around corners, and comes with a more luxurious assortment of features that includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-speaker sound system, and Brembo brakes. You also get a lot more space, but the trade-off is that this space comes in a hideous package. It also costs more, with a base price that leans more towards the $40k mark than the $35k one. It's definitely the more capable, more spacious, and more focused machine, but ultimately, we think a test drive is the only way to determine which car is right for you.
It may not have arrived just yet, but there's lots to love about the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI and lots to get excited about. A 2.0-liter turbo-four once again powers the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DCT, but it falls short in terms of output when compared to the Hyundai. Volkswagen's engine only develops 245 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque (at least in Europe - we'll have to wait for our version to confirm how much power and torque we're getting). While this may seem a little disappointing, it's worth remembering that the GTI has always been about accessible fun, and too much power takes that away. Furthermore, while the Veloster N is a car meant more for the boy racer, the Golf GTI was always destined to be an all-rounder. It's comfortable, spacious, relatively affordable, and built to an impeccable standard. Thus, the Veloster N is our hot hatch of choice if you want to go fast and be a hooligan all the time. But the Golf GTI is still the car to have if you want to ferry your family in comfort while still having the ability to give them whiplash around corners. And for those who love technology, the 2021 GTI has more electronic controls than some Apollo missions.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Hyundai Veloster N:
Check out some informative Hyundai Veloster N video reviews below.