The 2019 Hyundai Veloster, re-designed from the ground up this year, retains its quirky three-door persona but receives a slicker and more chiseled look, a higher-quality cabin, and a nicely executed and intuitive infotainment system. Holding it back is a steering system that lacks on-center feel, a dual-clutch automatic that occasionally bumbles at low speeds, and a ride that still might tire commuters.

Best Value

Prices for the 2019 Hyundai Veloster start at $19,385 for the base 2.0 equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and rise to $29,035 for the Turbo Ultimate fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Two engines are available right now. The 2.0 and 2.0 Limited models are offered with a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, Turbo R-Spec, Turbo, and Turbo Ultimate trims share a carryover 201-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual (R-Spec, standard on the Ultimate) or seven-speed dual clutch automatic (Turbo, optional on the Ultimate). Later this year, Hyundai will begin offering the high-performance 275-hp Veloster N.

For all models, the usual power features are present along with a rearview camera, LED daytime running lights, dual center exhaust, Bluetooth, seven-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and driver attention warning.

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard and only available on the 2.0 Premium, Turbo, and Turbo Ultimate trims, while adaptive cruise control is standard and only available on Turbo Ultimate models equipped with the dual-clutch automatic.

Choosing among the turbo models (we haven't driven either 2.0 trim, or the N version), we'd go with the R-Spec for its affordability and additional equipment that includes larger 18-inch wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer performance tires, LED headlights (low beam only) and taillights, high beam assist, R-Spec cloth seats, alloy pedals, keyless push-button start, an eight-inch touchscreen, a premium audio system with a subwoofer, satellite radio, and Hyundai's Blue Link connected services (three years).

Here's how we'd build it:

  • Model: 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec
  • Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 201 hp / 195 lb ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 26 City / 33 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price: $23,785 (including an $885 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $23,785

Performance

Hyundai Veloster

For 2019, Hyundai addressed our biggest gripe about the outgoing model by swapping out the rear torsion beam axle for a multi-link setup. That, along with a stiffer body, shows up in more predictable and capable handling. Mid-corner bumps and road imperfections are now handled with ease – sticking points on the last-generation. Opting for the R-Spec with grippier summer tires takes full advantage of the precision dialed into the new rear end. There's still not a boatload of compliance, but driving in Chicago will no longer require a follow-up visit to the dentist for fillings replacement.

Kudos to Hyundai in other areas, as well: the turbo offers plenty of driving fun, off-center feedback is decent through the steering wheel, the brakes are easy to modulate, while the slick clutch and six-speed manual make it a joy to row your own gears.

Fuel economy is also very good, with manually-equipped 2.0 models earning an EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon city, 33 mpg highway, and 28 combined, while those with an automatic get 27/34/30 mpg (city/highway/combined). Turning to turbo-equipped models, those with a manual check in at an EPA-estimated 26/33/29 mpg, while ratings rise to 28/34/30 mpg when fitted with the dual-clutch transmission.

At the same time, swapping out those summer tires for all season rubber requires judicious use of the accelerator in cornering to avoid skittering, as the Turbo quickly overpowers the less-aggressive rubber. The steering system displays a bit of on-center wander, while the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission bumbles an occasional shifts at low speeds.

Style

Despite the ability to market it as either a three-door or five-door hatch (sold in both right-hand-drive and left-hand-drive markets, those body panels are available), Hyundai has stuck to its guns by continuing to offer the Veloster as a unique single-driver/two-passenger-door model. The logic goes something like this: "the driver approaching that side of the vehicle sees a sporty coupe, while passengers approaching the other side view an inviting sedan."

While the concept remains unchanged, the execution is much improved over the outgoing model. Up front, the blending of slimmer headlights, prominent grille, and deep front fascia more closely resembles the rest of the Hyundai lineup. The A-pillars have been pushed rearward, elongating the hood, the roofline has been tapered, while the wheel arches are more stylized. Things wrap up in back with narrow, angular taillights, a larger upper spoiler, and a new diffuser flanking the center-exit exhaust port. The overall design is cleaner, chiseled, and more mature.

It's wrapped around an interior with a Kona-inspired dash and a unique theme for each of the five trim levels. A seven-inch display is standard on the 2.0, with all other models receiving a larger eight-inch unit – both coupled to a simple and intuitive infotainment system that puts those found on many luxury models to shame. Cloth seats are standard on 2.0 models, replaced with cloth and leather on the 2.0 Premium. The Turbo R-Spec has black cloth with yellow accents, while Turbo models feature black leather and cloth with red accents. Meanwhile, the Turbo Ultimate retains the black and red dash while adding beige leather upholstery.

The cabin has also received a thorough makeover, with more supportive front seats and a cleaner dash with an attractive center stack that contains logically-arranged HVAC buttons and knobs, and redundant controls for the infotainment system. In addition to its other functions, the center console also delineates the space between the driver and passenger: the driver's side is framed in black, while the passenger side is framed in gray. The door panels are thicker, more sound deadening has been added, and – although hard – the trim is nicely grained, giving the interior a class-up look and feel.

The Veloster also sports hatchback versatility with a release handle cleverly built into the rear wiper housing that exposes 19.9 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats that expands to nearly twice that with the rear seats folded.

At the same time, only the front seats are comfortable for larger adults, while getting into the left rear seat requires either moving the driver's seat forward and climbing in, or entering from the passenger door and stepping over a seat. And while the driver's view to the front and sides is very good, the thick C-pillar and small rear window result in poor visibility out the rear three-quarters and back.

The Best and Worst Things

The 2019 Veloster boasts of improvements across the board: a slick, cohesive design, higher quality interior, and more capable handling.

At the same time, the dual-clutch automatic isn't always smooth at low speeds, the back seat is on the small side, while the ride might be too firm for some tastes.

Right For? Wrong For?

Hyundai Veloster

The latest Veloster is a good choice for singles thanks to its vastly improved ride and handling, a slick-looking exterior, and a trim level for nearly every pocketbook.

Enthusiasts will note that the Veloster's improved ride and handling still can't touch class leaders like the Volkswagen GTI, Honda Civic Si, or even the Mazda3.

The Bottom Line

Despite a recalcitrant dual-clutch automatic transmission, steering that lacks on-center feel, and a suspension too firm for some tastes, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster is a solid offering in its class because of its slick design, high-quality cabin, and intuitive infotainment system.