I DON’T know much about car design, but I’m fairly certain that a car has to look the same on the one side as it does on the other. It’s a basic principle I’m sure is dealt with in the very first class on the very first day at car-drawing school.
The lead designer at Hyundai must have had a few beers the night before class started, because it’s quite obvious that he slept straight through the all-important first period and completely skipped the chapter stating that all cars need to be symmetrical. I for one am glad he did. After driving the new Veloster, I’m bored with balanced design.
The Hyundai Veloster is currently the only intentional asymmetrical four door hatch on sale in South Africa. It has a single door on the right hand side and two doors on the left.
The benefits of such a unique layout are twofold: the Veloster looks sleek and coupé-like from the right and on the left you have the the added practicality of an extra door. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but in the right colour it is a truly inspiring design and irrefutable proof that some classes were made to be bunked in the same way some rules are just meant to be broken.
Some people will buy this car based on its looks alone, but that doesn’t mean Hyundai’s skimped on interior fittings. The Veloster is only available in Executive specification, which includes leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB slot, reverse camera, cruise control and automatic air conditioning.
The standard feature that stood out for me is the multimedia system with a full-colour touch screen in the centre console. With this display you can control the Bluetooth functions and change the settings of the sound system (four speakers, two tweeters, centre speaker, subwoofer and an external amplifier) to suit your own music taste.
Among the many functions and sub functions, we stumbled across the Blue Max in-car game. Activate it and the Veloster gives you 10 minutes to prove how ‘green’ you can drive by scoring you for being consistent and punishing you when you step on it. My co-pilot and I were proud of our scores ranging from 25 000 to 29 000 until we found out that the average eco-minded individual normally scores around 100 000 points.
I could blame my poor performance on my dislike of the ‘green’ movement, but this time I’m laying some of the blame on the car itself. You see, the Veloster is currently only available with Hyundai’s 1.6-litre GDI engine. It delivers 103kW and 167Nm of torque, which, for a 1.6-litre engine, is impressive to say the least.
The trouble started with my own personal expectations of the Veloster. Because of the stunning exterior I was expecting it to be a hot hatch and it just isn’t. It hustles along just fine, but calling it brisk would be a bit of a stretch.
I gave up on caning the Veloster and settled back in the luxurious leather seat. The points on Blue Max started adding up and it gave other motorists the opportunity to enjoy the chunky styling as well. To fully appreciate the Veloster, you need to make peace with the fact that it’s a stand-out-in-a-crowd car with a comfortable interior and adequate performance.
I like the fact that on one side it’s a natural competitor to the Mini, Audi A1, Citroën DS3 and Volkswagen Scirocco. On the other side it offers an interesting alternative to the more traditional hatchbacks out there. At R259 900 (R276 900 for DCT Auto) it’s a very attractive package.
And if the power output and performance put you off, don’t worry too much. A turbocharged version will arrive in South Africa before the year is out.