It’s a rarity in the car business for a daring design to work out, and win favour among buyers. The sport compact segment is one of few where a whacky-looking car will succeed, and that’s why the Hyundai Veloster just… works. Read my review at TractionLife.com.
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Straight Eight: 2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
1. Stands out in a crowd
The car is the Hyundai Veloster, and the colour is called Vitamin C. Loud colours work best on cars that look loud no matter what shade they’re painted. Four years since its introduction, the Veloster remains controversial, and that’s just how it should be.
Hyundai calls the Veloster a coupe, but technically it’s not, if your definition means only two doors. The Veloster has three: from the passenger side, it looks like a weird four-door hatchback, while the driver’s side paints the car as the rakish coupe it purports to be.
3. Humble roots
Believe it or not, the Veloster is based on Hyundai’s Accent subcompact; its wacky styling is the most notable part of the transformation into a wannabe sports car.
4. Glass ceiling
There’s a ton of glass out back, but little rearward visibility. When reversing, the best view of what’s behind you is through the standard backup camera.
5. Trunk line
Beneath that big hatch lies (unsurprisingly) a big trunk, and the rear seat won’t make your friends curse you out for making them ride back there. On the downside, your friends will keep asking you for rides.
6. Close, but kind of meatless
The Odds song “Someone Who’s Cool” (quoted above) is about trying to look cool even when you’re not. That’s you if you buy the lukewarm base model. The car I drove had the optional turbocharged engine, which brightened performance significantly, but not quite enough to match the promise of that orange paint: the Veloster isn’t as sharp to drive as the Mini Cooper S, Honda Civic Si or Ford Fiesta ST.
7. Get in, hold on
Check out the grab handles on the centre console – great to give the passenger something to hold onto when the yahoo behind the wheel gets heavy with the right foot. Similarly-styled door pulls look good, but are also easy to reach when it’s time to close the cabin door and prepare for takeoff.
8. Cheap thrills
It’s not as much fun to drive as some competitors, but the Veloster Turbo is a great value. A similarly-equipped Cooper S costs thousands more, the Civic Si is dowdy in comparison, and the Fiesta ST rides hard and has sport seats that are uncomfortable in daily use. The Veloster combines standout looks with a useful interior and a dash of fun – a combo that’s hard to resist.
Straight Eight: 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8
1. Lots of luxury
My test car was a 3.8 Tech model, the best-equipped Genesis available with the V6 engine (there’s also a V8). It comes with, among other things, navigation, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable steering wheel, power trunk (more on that in a moment), power rear window sunshade, and wood trim that, if it isn’t real, looks pretty close to it.
2. Is that a Bentley?
Two people who saw the Genesis’ winged logo on the hood asked if the car was “some new Bentley” model. Enough said.
3. So-so sightlines
It’s easy to lose sight of a pedestrian while making a left turn, thanks to the thick A-pillar, large side mirror and relatively short greenhouse, making the Genesis a nerve-wracking car to drive in busy urban traffic.
4. Big on convenience
With the “smart” key in your pocket, stand next to the trunk for a few seconds, and it’ll power open on its own. Handy if you’ve got armfuls of stuff, and saves you the indignity of having to wave a foot under the rear bumper, a common method of hands-free cargo access.
5. Short of practicality
If you’ve got big stuff to move, keep in mind the Genesis’ back seat doesn’t fold, at all. This is a serious oversight that’s common in upscale Asian sedans.
6. New design, improved performance
Steering feel isn’t great, and the chassis tends toward understeer in hard cornering, but this is a much more entertaining car than its predecessor. In “sport” mode, the engine and transmission are eager to get where you’re going, quickly, and the engine and exhaust sound pretty sweet in speedy driving.
7. Big-car thirst
My test car averaged 12.6 L/100 km (18.7 US MPG) in a mix of city and highway driving. It’s a thirsty car in city slogging, where you can expect an average of about 15 L/100 km (about 15 US MPG), even with a gentle right foot.
8. Enticing offering
For its upscale look, decent performance and long list of luxury goodies, this car is a steal at its $53,000 MSRP. But it’s a better deal in the U.S., where Hyundai sells the same car I drove for $48,000. If your eyebrow muscles need a workout, go see what it would cost to kit out a competitive German sedan with the same equipment.
What I think: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
Another redesigned crossover; another redesigned Hyundai. Ho-hum. The Santa Fe is certainly not much to get excited about – unless you like getting lots of kit for not much money. In that case, then, yes, there’s plenty to like here, and in a vehicle that’s really quite nice to drive.
This, by the way, was my first review for my new full-time gig, with Autos by Sympatico.
What I think: Long-term Hyundai Genesis Coupe
This summer, I spent a few weeks with a 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T. I did a little bit of everything with this car: city slogging, highway cruising, and hauling heaps of stuff. Click through the links below to read my impressions of a car that was fun, but far from perfect.
What I think: Long-term Hyundai Genesis Coupe
I’m in the early weeks of an extended, four-month test of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, a rear-wheel drive car that challenges many of the negative stereotypes that continue to dog this carmaker, in spite of the recent, massive strides in quality they’ve made. Click here to read my Autos.ca Long-Term Introduction.
What I think: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT and Coupe
In Canada, hatchbacks and Hyundai are hot stuff right now. Hyundai’s problem (a first-world problem if ever we’ve heard one) is that its strong-selling compact Elantra was available only as a sedan, while many of its competitors’ small cars can be had in a variety of body styles.
For 2013, the Korean automaker answers a question that I’m sure some have been asking, by adding a hatchback and coupe to the Elantra line.
True, the Elantra Touring station wagon has been available since 2009, but, as the marketers are so eager to tell us, wagons aren’t cool and no one wants them. The 2013 Elantra GT therefore sacrifices some practicality for a more stylish hatchback body, in the vein of a Mazda3 Sport or Ford Focus five-door, which happen to be the cars Hyundai sees the GT competing most closely with for buyers. We got a chance to drive both coupe and GT models at a recent first drive event in Montreal.
The need for an Elantra coupe was less obvious to us, but Hyundai’s Canadian PR reps say this car presents an opportunity to take a bite out of a market that is largely owned by Honda’s Civic coupe. In the past, General Motors was a major player in small two-doors, until it replaced its Chevrolet Cobalt with the four-door-only Cruze. With that popular player gone, the Elantra two-door will compete with the Civic and its corporate cousin, the Kia Forte Koup.
Like the Elantra sedan, the GT and coupe offer good interior space that’s around average for the class. The GT’s cargo space is less generous than the old Elantra Touring had; the coupe really only sacrifices some rear seat headroom; its trunk space matches the sedan’s, and the rest of the interior is as spacious (if not as easy to get in and out of, thanks to the lack of rear doors) as the sedan’s and GT’s.
While all three cars share the Elantra name, they are not all the same underneath. The coupe is essentially an Elantra sedan with two fewer doors, but shares a different rear suspension with the GT, a torsion axle setup with a stabilizer bar in place of the sedan’s less-sophisticated (Hyundai’s word) rear suspension. GT models get stiffer rear springs and better shock absorbers, and the coupe’s suspension is tweaked depending on trim level to accommodate the two wheel and tire packages (16 and 17 inches) offered on the two-door. The GT also rides on a unique platform, the car being a near-twin to the Hyundai i30 sold in overseas markets.
All three cars use the 1.8-litre four-cylinder “Nu” engine found in the Elantra sedan, as well as that car’s six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. Its power ratings (148 hp/131 lb-ft of torque) remain the same for all three cars, putting it roughly mid-pack in the numbers game. It’s a good engine, but if you choose to shift for yourself, you’ll be doing a lot of it to keep the motor in its sweet spot.
Hyundai has made much of this engine’s fuel efficiency, and its Natural Resources Canada ratings of 7.3/5.0 L/100 km (with the automatic transmission; the stickshift does slightly better); this engine does without the direct fuel injection technology used by a number of its competitors (and, indeed, other Hyundai models) because, as Hyundai explains, it wasn’t necessary to meet the company’s economy goals. Automatic-equipped cars have an ActiveECO fuel-saving mode, a driver-selectable system that softens throttle response and changes the transmission’s shift pattern to boost efficiency.
The GT also gets what Hyundai calls Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM), which lets the driver choose from three levels of power assist: comfort, normal and sport. This feature is a first both for Hyundai and the compact segment, and was conceived to allow different drivers to tailor the steering to their own preferences. It’s a bit gimmicky, though, and doesn’t actually affect the car’s performance in any meaningful way; the GT’s steering ratio is virtually identical to the sedan’s. The coupe, meanwhile, has slightly quicker steering than its linemates.
That said, the GT gets the nod as the best-handling member of the Elantra family. It feels a bit more substantial over the road than the coupe and sedan, and the rear suspension provides better body motion control, too. The coupe is a decent handler in backroad driving, as long as the asphalt is smooth; broken pavement brings out the same skittish rear-end feel the sedan is guilty of.
Both coupe and GT models come with a comprehensive list of standard kit that includes air conditioning, heated front seats, cruise, trip computer and Bluetooth. The coupe is offered in GLS and SE trims, while the GT can be had in base, GLS and SE configurations. It’s worth noting that in both cases, the SE trim includes the automatic transmission, with cannot be deleted in favour of the manual.
Coupe pricing ranges from $19,949 for the GLS ($21,149 with automatic) to $25,199 in SE form, which includes navigation, premium audio, leather, automatic climate control, among other niceties.
The GT hatch starts at $19,149 in base form and bumps to $21,349 for the GLS model (the automatic is a $1,200 option in base and GLS models). The GT SE is worth $24,349, including leather, automatic climate control and a front windshield de-icer, and can be optioned with a Tech package that adds push-button start, proximity key, navigation and backup camera, for $26,349.
What I think: Buying a used Hyundai Genesis Coupe
It’s only been on the road for about three years, but I’m fairly confident in suggesting the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a well-built sports coupe that makes a smart used car buy. Check out my full review at Autos.ca.
What I think: 2012 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec
The letter R is a dangerous one when used in a vehicle trim designation.
What I think: 2012 Hyundai Veloster
In the past, upscale, stylish compact hatchbacks have, naturally, been the exclusive domain of upscale manufacturers. That changes, now, with the introduction of the Hyundai Veloster, a car that pitches the Korean manufacturer into the same arena as cars like the Mini Cooper and Volvo C30.