Hyundai refers to its quirky one-plus-two-door Veloster coupe as a “reverse halo vehicle,” meaning it’s intended to draw young buyers in and get them hooked so that as they age, start families, and get promoted they’ll buy ever fancier Hyundai cars and utes. In Korea they even sell it under a “Premium Youth Lab” subbrand. Well, it’s hard to keep the kids interested year after year, and this new-for-2012 sporty car is arguably overdue for a do-over. One might expect a more radical redo in a market so fashion-conscious, but the new 2019 Hyundai Veloster certainly won’t be mistaken for anything else.
The continuous sweep of the roof into the backlite, the third half door on the passenger side, and the center exhaust outlet are all faithfully retained in this reimagining of Hyundai’s “city rally car,” but there’s a new wider sunroof, the A-pillars and cowl are moved back to visually extend the length of the hood, and aerodynamic air curtains are fitted to the front and (less expectedly) rear wheels. Up front, LED headlights and daytime running lights flank the new “pouring steel” cascade grille, and at the rear there are new LED taillights, dual centrally positioned exhaust outlets, and a more aggressive diffuser. Overall length increases by 0.8 inch (it’s all in the extended front overhang), and it’s wider by 0.4 inch.
Meanwhile most of what you don’t see has been substantially upgraded. The wheelbase is retained but the chassis shares more Elantra/Kona platform architecture, including the standard multilink rear suspension. The base naturally aspirated engine upgrades from 1.6 to 2.0 liters, gaining Atkinson-cycle efficiency plus 15 more horsepower and 12 additional lb-ft. That adds up to peak ratings of 147 hp at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. A choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions is offered.
The up-level engine is still a 201-hp, 195-lb-ft 1.6-liter turbo, though it’s retuned so that peak torque arrives earlier (1,500 rpm versus 1,750) mated to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic that gets sportier programming to hold lower gears when cornering. And augmenting the sport-tuned intake and exhaust sounds made by these engines will be Active Sound Design noises delivered via the sound system and tailored to the drive modes, which now include normal, sport, and smart.
Chassis-wise, 17-inch aluminum wheels are standard with 18s optional. Four different wheel designs are offered. Michelin Pilot Sport summer tires are available on Turbo models. The steering ratio is also quicker by 10 percent for more agile feeling dynamics.
The 2019 Veloster’s interior design aesthetic was apparently inspired by café racer motorcycles, and it echoes the exterior’s asymmetry. A 7.0-inch display audio system is standard with an optional 8.0-inch display that offers performance gauges for turbo boost, engine torque, and lateral/longitudinal g forces. Qi wireless charging and an Infinity premium audio system are available, as is a wide, full-color pop-up reconfigurable head-up display that can depict speed limit, navigation instructions, adaptive cruise and lane-keep assist icons, and several more warnings along with the more traditional speedometer and tachometer.
New safety features include forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist, blind-spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, high-beam assist, and driver attention alert (which analyzes driving behavior, looking for increased lateral movement in lane, sudden increase of steering pattern, or insufficient lane guidance).
For 2019, five trim grades will be offered: 2.0, 2.0 Premium (automatic only), a lighter, more basic Turbo R-Spec with manual transmission, a middle Turbo offering with the seven-speed twin-clutch, and a fully loaded Turbo Ultimate variant that can be had with either transmission. Color choices include black, white, orange, red, and three shades of silver/gray with Turbo Ultimate models getting a black roof. Cloth is standard on 2.0 and Turbo R-Spec, a cloth-leather combo comes with 2.0 Premium or Turbo, and Ultimates get full leather with two-tone black and Sand Storm gray. All get colorful anodized dash accents in different colors.
The 2019 Veloster might look and feel a bit more grown up, but don’t expect its price to leap beyond the reach of the youthful clientele Hyundai expects it to lure into the Hyundai brand.
Read our 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo First Test review right here.