DRIVEN TO EXTINCTION Hyundai Veloster
UNTIMELY DEMISE FOR A BRAVE, QUIRKY, TWO-PLUS-ONE-DOOR HATCHBACK... OR WAS IT A COUPE?
FOR ANYONE WHO appreciates the individuality and flair of a stylish coupe, the Hyundai Veloster’s demise in Australia should signal alarm bells for affordable sporting coupes across the globe. They’re dying, to the point where extinction is a real possibility, and that trend is both stultifying and sad.
The second-generation Veloster – only launched here in September 2019 – never even made it to Europe, and in the US its popularity has nosedived in recent years. Not that the Veloster deserves this level of apathy because the second-gen car is actually a bloody good thing. And you have to applaud any manufacturer with the moxie to champion a two-plus-one-door hatchback parading as a coupe.
Hyundai gave the Veloster a red-hot go, though, and for a time it sold strongly – especially early on. Inspired by 2007’s HND-3 concept, Veloster launched in production form at the Detroit Motor Show four years later.
Curiously, while the concept sported two enormous frameless doors, the production Veloster featured a large single (framed) door on the driver’s side and a shorter front door combined with a hidden-handle rear door on the passenger’s side. The Veloster maintained that layout (emptying a third occupant onto the kerb) regardless of whether it was left- or right-hand drive.
While that may sound like a packaging wank, the whole point was about making a coupe as practical as possible, without compromising its sporty shape. You could successfully argue that the Veloster looked racier from the driver’s side, but its configuration went a long way towards justifying buying one (for a premium) over a three- or five-door i30 hatch.
The first-gen Veloster wasn’t bad, even though the launch model – a 103kW 1.6-litre direct-injected four with a torsion-beam rear end – was pure style over substance. A 150kW turbocharged model arrived in
2012, complete with multi-link IRS and a tougher appearance defined by two fat centre exhaust pipes, and while it could be entertaining, its engine fell flat at high revs and it never sounded that great. For all its visual muscle, several hot hatches could easily ace the Veloster SR Turbo for driver appeal.
The second-gen Veloster, revealed at the 2018 Detroit Motor Show, made up for this. It looked cooler, drove better (with a multi-link rear end on all models), sounded fruitier and in some markets was even offered in a hot-shot N version. Our top model was the Turbo Premium, complete with super-cool blade-like 18-inch alloys, a black roof and a sinister demeanour perfect for cutting a swathe, at any speed, down Main Street.
But with so much competition from Hyundai’s own showrooms, the best Veloster became our last Veloster. If you hurry you might still find one, though with fewer than 100 left in stock it’s goodbye from Veloster and farewell to Australia’s last affordable four-seat coupe.