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2012 Hyundai Veloster Review

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If the auto industry were a dice game, Hyundai would have wound up dead long ago in a seedy back alley, shot or stabbed by a jealous pimp over having a "hot hand" for too long. Just as everyone else's luck seemed to run out a few years ago, Hyundai went from punch line to punching well above its weight with a string of products – the Genesis Coupe and Sedan, Elantra, Tucson, Sonata, Equus and Accent have all presented a serious challenge to both domestic and import manufacturers, and industry observers have been asking sotto voce whether Hyundai was due for a fall.

The Veloster is Hyundai's most important product for the 2012 model year – on the surface, it looks like another inexpensive, sporty offering aimed at Gen Y, a crucial market for automakers who must try and sell cars to a cynical demographic that has come to see driving as an anti-social and wasteful act. While Hyundai was busy touting the car's 40-mpg highway rating and light weight (only 2,584 lbs with the 6-speed manual) in the run up to the car's launch, they were also making excuses. Claims abound that the Veloster was fun in the classic "driving a slow car fast" kind of way, and one Hyundai engineer told AutoGuide that the 40 mpg rating would be a bigger selling point than the car's meager 138 horsepower rating (and he may not be wrong). The Veloster is supposed to be a mix of utility, performance, efficiency and technology, but compromise rarely leads to great automobiles.

At first glance, the Veloster looks cool, with a broad, aggressive front end and a rakish roofline. A 360 degree walk around the vehicle reveals two design oddities that ruin an otherwise attractive shape – the rear end is pear-shaped, with a pinched-in upper-deck and strangely scalloped taillights that look the head of an insect that's about to sting you.

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