The Hyundai Veloster remains an unusual and charming entry in the compact hatch class since the current generation launched in 2019.

New For 2020: Changes for 2020 are slim. The Turbo R-Spec model gains standard blind spot monitoring while DCT-equipped Turbos have standard wireless smartphone charging. The Turbo Ultimate is now only available with Hyundai’s agreeable seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The Veloster is the only four-door hatch on the market, with a longer, single door on the driver’s side and two on the passenger side.

With a lower-slung profile than its Elantra sibling, the Veloster is the sportier option in the Hyundai lineup. It’s more sporty-looking than genuinely sporty in base trim, with the 2.0-liter naturally aspirated pumping out 147 hp and 132 lb-ft. It comes with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Turbo model uses Hyundai and Kia’s ubiquitous 1.6-liter turbo-four, here in 201 hp, 195 lb-ft form. Veloster Turbos use either the six-speed manual or a seven-speed DCT.

Every Veloster includes a reasonable amount of tech and safety: forward collision avoidance with braking, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all standard across the board.

Prices start at $19,520 for a base 2.0 manual, including $920 for freight. The top-of-the-line Veloster Turbo Ultimate has an MSRP of $28,150, which puts it in direct competition with the hardcore (and highly-rated) Veloster N hot hatch.

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Hyundai Veloster Features

The Veloster comes standard with a decent amount of kit for its class. Hyundai puts an emphasis on safety, with forward collision-avoidance assist, tire pressure monitoring, driver attention warning, and lane-keep assist all standard. A blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic warning are both available on select trims.

Interior amenities include an 7.0-inch touchscreen (8.0-inch on everything above the base trim), with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

Most Velosters come with cloth seating as standard. Only the Turbo Ultimate features leather seating; the Premium and regular Turbo offer partial-leather seats up front. These three trims also include standard heated front seats. The second-row features a typical 60/40 split seat arrangement, allowing the 19.9 cubic foot trunk to expand to 44.5.

Other available features include an eight-speaker Infinity sound system, wireless charging, leather-wrapped steering wheel, push-button start, and a color heads-up display.

Read More Hyundai Veloster Turbo Review

Hyundai Veloster Performance

In Turbo trims the Veloster packs a surprising amount of punch. Hyundai’s 1.6-liter turbo-four produces 201 hp and 195 lb-ft here, enough for a 0-60mph run around 7.0 seconds. There’s little lag from the turbo, and torque plateaus from 1500–4500 rpm, making it feel more like a bigger engine than a blown one. Manual enthusiasts will gravitate towards the Turbo R-Spec, which includes a sweet-shifting, short-throw six-speed manual, not to mention sticky performance rubber. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is also available.

The base engine is a larger 2.0-liter, naturally-aspirated unit. It produces an entirely reasonable 147 hp, backed up by 132 lb-ft of torque. The Veloster 2.0 puts power down via either the six-speed manual or an automatic with the same number of gears. It’s quicker than the previous generation, but we’d recommend the turbo if your budget allows.

Hyundai Veloster Fuel Economy

Impressively, the turbo may cost more at the dealer, but not at the pumps. Both engines run on 87-octane fuel, and the 1.6-liter just outpoints the entry-level engine on fuel mileage:

  • Veloster 2.0 Manual EPA Fuel Mileage:  25 city/ 33 highway/ 28 combined
  • Veloster 2.0 Automatic EPA Fuel Mileage:  27 city/ 34 highway/ 30 combined
  • Veloster 1.6T Manual EPA Fuel Mileage:  26 city/ 33 highway/ 29 combined
  • Veloster 1.6T DCT EPA Fuel Mileage:  28 city/ 34 highway/ 30 combined

In the realm of sporty hatches, that puts the Veloster right between its two main competitors, the Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen Golf GTI. The VW manages 24/32/27, but requires premium fuel for its 228 hp turbo engine. Honda recommends premium for the Si, though it can accept regular gas. Even with a six-speed manual—there’s no auto available—the Civic Si achieves 26/36/30.

Hyundai Veloster Pricing

The Veloster is meant to provide fun without putting a hurt on your bank account. The base-level Veloster 2.0 rings in at $19,520 including destination. That’s for the standard row-your-own option: upgrading to the six-speed auto is an extra grand. Jumping up to the 2.0 Premium brings the total to $22,800, adding 18-inch alloys, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and more.

Getting into the turbo-engined model is only a few hundred more, with the Turbo R-Spec starting at $23,150. This is the enthusiast’s choice, eschewing the added features and dual-clutch transmission of the Turbo ($25,450) and Turbo Ultimate ($28,150) models. The R-Spec comes exclusively with the slick-shifting manual transmission, plus grippier summer-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4s; all other Velosters feature all-season rubber.

Read More Hyundai Veloster N Review

Hyundai Veloster vs Honda Civic

The evergreen Honda Civic is the standard-bearer of the sport compact class. Its reputation comes at a price: the cheapest way into a Civic coupe is $21,880, over two grand more than a Veloster. That said, it does offer more power—the Civic’s heart is 2.0 liters too, but produces 158 ponies versus 147—routed through a standard CVT.

If the coupe profile isn’t to your liking, there’s a sedan or a five-door hatchback. The hatch offers much more room than the Veloster, and runs it close on power in 1.5-liter turbo Sport trim (180 hp). The most direct performance competitor for the Veloster Turbo is the Civic Si: the 205 hp, six-speed manual-only model starts at $25,930, in either coupe or sedan form.

Read More Honda Civic Si Review

Hyundai Veloster vs Volkswagen Golf GTI

We’re skipping right over the regular Golf and looking at the GTI. The seventh-gen Golf isn’t long for this world, with the October 2019 reveal of the MK8 pointing the way forward. Until then though, the current car represents an excellent blend of quality, usability, and sheer pace. That finely-honed recipe doesn’t come cheap, however: you’ll need $28,490 to even get your foot into the base GTI, sailing clear of the Veloster’s highest non-N trim.

That does include a more usable five-door shape, plus a smooth, powerful 2.0-liter turbo engine pumping out 228 hp and a stout 258 lb-ft. Not to mention that famous VW interior quality, complete with retro-cool plaid seats and golf ball shifter.

Read More Volkswagen Golf GTI Review

Detailed Specs

Engine / 2.0L I4 / 1.6L turbocharged I4
Horsepower (hp) / 147 / 201
Torque (lb-ft) / 132 / 195
Drivetrain / Front-wheel drive
Transmission / 6-speed manual / 6-speed automatic / 7-speed DCT
Price Range / $19,520–$28,150

Our Final Verdict

The first Veloster looked the look, but didn’t walk the walk. This second-gen model delivers the goods, maturing in both design and dynamics while still majoring on fun. Its interior won’t win any awards, but it offers reasonable room and everything is laid out logically. Most importantly, Hyundai has put the money where it counts: under the skin. The Veloster offers plenty of smiles per mile—just aim for the Turbo to maximize them.