Hyundai offers unique take on coupe with 2012 Veloster

  • 13-Jan-2011 03:13 EST

The Hyundai Veloster incorporates a unique third door for easy rear-seat access. The passenger-side rear door handle is hidden to maintain the coupe design. (Matthew Monaghan)

The Hyundai Veloster coupe concept launched at the 2007 Seoul Motor Show was aimed directly at potential Gen-Y buyers, and the production version, shown four years later at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, has stayed true to its original target. The production Veloster purposefully forgoes pure acceleration and aggressive handling in favor of playfulness and utility, while still delivering a driving experience that is “nimble and agile,” according to John Krafcik, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hyundai Motor America.

“Veloster isn’t about 0-to-60 times; honestly, there are a lot of other cars that will outrun it in a quarter mile,” Krafcik said. “That’s not the point of this car. We’ve got Genesis Coupe in our lineup to wave that flag.”

Rather than chase additional horsepower, Hyundai engineers opted instead to target weight efficiency and fuel economy.

“We interviewed a lot of Scion tC buyers and what we found was they wanted greater fuel economy because many of them are just starting out and fuel economy is really important,” said Brandon Ramirez, Veloster Product Manager. “With Scion tC, they weren’t happy with that, so that was the number one development target, fuel economy. That’s why we selected the 1.6-L GDI to power this vehicle.”

The Gamma 1.6-L four-cylinder engine is the smallest Hyundai engine to use gasoline direct injection (GDI), helping to deliver projected highway fuel economy of 40 mpg, exceeding that of the smaller Honda CR-Z hybrid (37/39, manual/CVT). Peak output is an estimated 138 hp (103 kW) at 6300 rpm and maximum torque is 123 lb·ft (167 N·m) at 4850 rpm. The engine is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission or a Hyundai-developed six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

By using steel from its own plant in Dangjin, South Korea, engineers were able to cost-effectively incorporate high-strength steel and reduce weight. Weighing in at 2584 lb (1172 kg), Veloster is 476 lb (216 kg) lighter than the Scion tC.

“We don’t have to have a really powerful engine if we cut weight,” Ramirez said. “By cutting weight, that also improves the agility of the vehicle. The other day, John Krafcik drove the latest tuning of the Veloster and a smile came to his face because it’s so light and agile. It’s a really fun-to-drive vehicle.”

Veloster is based off of the Elantra platform; however, it features a unique rear suspension with integrated rear stabilizer bar dubbed a V-Beam. “It gives you great handling characteristics,” Ramirez said.

Additional insight gained by interviewing Gen-Y buyers was applied on the interior.

“When we interviewed these buyers, they had all of their electronics spread across the whole dashboard on some other competitor products,” Ramirez said. “They wanted all their technology to be centralized, and we do that.”

Veloster comes standard with a high-resolution 7-in LG touch-screen display with Pandora Internet radio capability, Gracenote album cover art and voice recognition, video playback via USB, and photo slideshow.

“Every single Veloster will have RCA jacks and a USB, and there’s a 115-V outlet, so [Microsoft] Xbox or anything with an RCA jack you can play on the video screen,” Ramirez said.

The display also incorporates a unique Eco Coach scoring system, which acknowledges fuel-efficient driving with an eco rewards score, and it accumulates points over time for a total Eco Score, which can be compared with other Veloster owners.

The production Veloster is largely reminiscent of that original concept, with a similar profile and rear fascia. The trapezoidal shaped grille of the concept, however, is swapped out in place of Hyundai’s traditional hexagon shape. The concept’s painted wheel inserts have been carried over as a production option, believed to be a segment first.

The Veloster is slated to go on sale this summer "at a starting price in the $17,000 range," according to Krafcik.  

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