Hyundai's quirky Veloster is great, but what if you can't afford one?
We recently had the chance to drive the all-new 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo. The second generation Veloster is a huge improvement over its predecessor, and the $22,900 starting price for the Turbo R Spec model is very attractive. For that price you'll get a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque going out to the front wheeld through a six-speed manual. We enjoyed our time in the Veloster, but wanted to know what $23,000 or less would buy on the used market.
While 201 hp isn't a low figure, some enthusiasts may crave a bit more power and more conservative looks. For less than $20,000, you can pick up a previous generation Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R. In the United States, the Mk6 Golf R was sold in 2012 and 2013 in two-door and four-door variants, with a manual transmission only. Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 256 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. Although 0-60 times for the Veloster have not yet been announced, the old Golf R will likely be quicker thanks to AWD grip, resulting in a 5.7-second 0-60 time.
People who buy a Veloster are likely looking for a unique looking car. The Golf R may be quick, but it is a bit boring in the looks department. Our next option is more unique: the Volvo C30. Volvo sold the C30 from 2008 to 2013, and prices vary drastically based on age and mileage. We found examples starting at around $5,000 and topping out at around $20,000. Power comes from a 2.5-liter inline-five turbo producing 227 hp. There was also an available tune from Polestar, which upped it to 250 hp. Volvo sold the C30 with a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual, and we highly recommend the manual.
Hyundai made improvements to the Veloster by adding headroom compared to the previous generation. Still, the back seat is still a bit tight on leg room. Buyers who need a larger hatchback can now enjoy a used Focus ST. Ford has sold the Focus ST since 2013, and used prices have tumbled down to around $12,000 on the low end. Power comes from a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder producing 252 hp. Like the Veloster R Spec, the only transmission choice is a six-speed manual.
Our next option is a slightly forgotten one: the MazdaSpeed3. The first generation Speed3 was sold from 2007-2009, after being replaced in 2010 by the second generation, which was sold until 2013. The Speed is powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo four-cylinder producing 263 hp. First and second generations cars can be found for less than $10,000, while lower mileage examples cost around $12,000 to $13,000.
For buyers who want something quirky like the Veloster, we would recommend the Saab 9-2X. All Saab cars were a bit odd, but this one was strange for a different reason. The 9-2X wasn't actually a Saab, it was really a Subaru Impreza with a Saab badge. Although it only lasted for two model years, 2006 and 2007, we think the 9-2X (also nicknamed the Saabaru) is an incredibly cool car. The 9-2X Aero was powered by a 2.5-liter flat-four turbo producing 230 hp, with an available five-speed manual. It is also one of the cheapest cars on our list, topping out at around $7,000.