Normally, 'Coupés' have two doors (or three if you include the tailgate), but the new Veloster has a tailgate, a driver's door and two passenger doors on the nearside. MINI, of course, gave us this idea with the Clubman, but the BMW-owned carmaker failed to deliver to our right-hand drive market the passenger doors on the nearside (aka passenger-side); instead it favoured left-hand drive markets. Thankfully, the new Veloster is built in two body styles (LHD/RHD), so that means that in Ireland drivers can drop off kids and passengers onto the footpath, away from traffic and without the need to get out to let them out. This is very important on any parent's list.
Outside, Veloster looks positively chunky compared to the famous Hyundai Coupé. It has a very interesting exterior with creases and curves that bring a smile to your face. It has similar proportions to a VW Sirocco - and that is a good thing. Sitting on 17-inch alloys, the four-seater, front-wheel drive car turns heads. Veloster is available in some vivid colours and my bright green test car divided opinion - but let's face it: you don't buy a coupé to be anonymous.
Inside, the driver and front seat passenger are well catered for with a nice dashboard and good levels of equipment. The rear seating is, as you would expect, a compromise. Headroom is poor for adults although there is space for two people. At 5'10" I need to sit with my head almost tilted back (and under the very long rear tailgate glass), otherwise my head hits off the roof where the roof lining joins the tailgate. The trim for the rear passenger, who sits behind the front passenger, is better quality than behind the driver – clearly Hyundai knows the Veloster will be used more as a 2+1 than a 2+2.
So does Veloster go as well as it looks? The ride is comfortable and the cabin a pleasant place to be on good roads. On more demanding surfaces Veloster can be unsettled. Steering is neutral and the manual six-speed gearshift is precise. Power comes from a 1.6-litre GDi (direct injection petrol) four-cylinder engine. There is 140bhp on tap and this helps Veloster deliver a mildly entertaining driving experience when driven hard – but you need to make an effort to drive enthusiastically. A higher performing turbo is being built and this would be the choice for drivers who want a bit of 'Go' to go with their coupé 'Show'. The centre-mounted twin-exhaust is lovely to look at but doesn't provide the slightest audible hint of a sporty soundtrack. There is no induction roar under acceleration either, so Veloster is not aimed at overtly sporty drivers, rather at those who wish to look the part.
The old Hyundai Coupé was a huge hit in its class in Ireland but never a performance car, so buyers coming to Veloster from a Hyundai Coupé will be happy. Another reason to be happy is that Hyundai has a great five-year warranty with Roadside Assistance and Vehicle Health Check as standard. There is just one specification and this keeps things simple. Veloster costs €24,995 OTR (on the road) and CO2 is 137g/km, so that means owners will pay €225 in annual road tax.
Hyundai Veloster is a bold and striking-looking car.