ANTI PONY CAR: Performance hatchbacks are either the canvas of radical compact import car tuners for street racing domination or the yuppie weekend track warrior’s choice for weekday practicality. From a bevy of European and Asian brands, these boosted small displacement, front drive terrors, nip at the heels of supercars in the passing lanes of their continents’ autoroutes. On this continent the familiar but sparser menu has consisted of fare from Volkswagen [Golf GTI ], Honda [Civic Type R], and Ford [Fiesta ST, Focus ST] and Mini [John Cooper Works].
N HOT HATCH PAYS TWO TRIBUTES: At about the same time Ford exited the hyper performance five-door pool in American, Hyundai dove in. The Korean brand had been quietly offering it’s warmed up, tautly damped, grippy shod, manual transmission rowed N-Line on Elantra 5-doors for a couple years now. However, for the initial genuine high performance N series infusion in the Americas, Hyundai tapped a 4-door hatchback.
Now in it’s third year on the market the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N is available with that latest crutch for quick shifting, a dual clutch transmission. It wears an emblem that is a co-tribute to Namyang where it was conceived and Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife where it was honed.
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WHAT: 2021 Hyundai Veloster N DCT 2nd Generation 2+2 high performance hatchback coupe built on modified J6 – FS platform. The Veloster N reigns over the lesser Veloster Turbo Ultimate, previously tested by Roadblazing.com.
Powertrain: 2.0L DOHC 16V DI intercooled turbocharged gas I-4 = 275 hp/ 260 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm + 6-speed manual helical transaxle; optional 8-speed manumatic automated wet dual clutch helical transaxle, with steering wheel shift paddles.
- Variable attenuation high flow exhaust
- electronic Limited slip front differential
- Eco, Normal, Sport on demand Drive Modes
- N-Mode w/ custom settings for throttle, transmission, damping, stability control, e- limited slip differential, steering, exhaust
- N Grin Shift 20 second turbocharger overboost = +18 lb-ft / 20 seconds
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE:
STAND OUT: Black-mesh rendition of the latest corporate “flowing molten steel” wide hexagon grille; Lower slung hood with greater overhangs;
ALSO: Contrasting graphite side skirts, mesh front corner pseudo inlets and lower front valance w/ mesh; Longer roof spoiler convey greater length; Slimmer wheel arches, lower to mid rising door creases and thinner, wider wrap around lamp housings convey a slimmer silhouette; Boomerang taillamp housings meet rise to match Hofmeister kink thinning the C-pillar; Black contrast roof exhibits float; Beveled liftgate bottom renders a widening, Contrast graphite trapezoid center lower valance spreads wings;
FROM THE VELOSTER Turbo Ultimate: The mid grille bend is less kinked, the lower grille corners are framed in piano black boomerang trim, while a vented metallic band borders the grille bottom. Lower front corner vents are split with metallic boomerang accents inverted upon each. The aft body skirt is vented. Roof wing features open diffuser and lower bumper cover fascia is reworked to relocate corner vents horizontally, split the dual tail pipes to each corner, and make a more prominent lower diffuser.
WHY: Turns out the Civic Type-R wasn’t so undefeatable as quickest front drive car sold in America.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since early autumn 2020
WHERE: Hyundai new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Ulsan, South Korea
HOW ROADWORTHY: From pushbutton ignition a menace underfoot is discerned. No synthesized sounds here. Cockpit controlled variable venting valves, visible on the dual 3.0″ exhaust pipes exiting the transverse resonator, migrate from moderate raspiness to deep lunged howls. Goose, then release the throttle for some backpressure pop. DCT equipped Veloster N’s can be distinguished by the N Grin Shift steering wheel right spoke switch, 20 second turbo overboost mode to rev up a scare the bejeezus out of traffic being passed. Reasons to activate Eco or Sport out of three standard preset drive modes are few. Normal is about right.
On the open highway the lavender colored N-Mode is the one for fun. It keeps the electric turbocharger wastegate wide open for that faster response and allows automated upshifts at 6750 rpm. This viscous dual clutch gearbox irons out any lurching tendency during clutch releases and is amply if not neck snapping brisk in hand offs. Entertaining canyon throttle blipping is set off whether by the plenty large steering wheel shift paddles or the transaxle to its own plenty aggressive devices.
Launch control is accessible from the infotainment display N-Mode Custom menu. Launch engine speed is selectable, and traction control is fully disconnected to let clutch slippage and the electronic limited slip front differential help the rubber get maximum footing, which in colder weather is tricky given the equipped three season Michelin Pilot Sports. A right foot on the gas affair, requiring cool downs between passes, launch control in the Veloster N DCT is a ticket to impressive pushed back into the seat accelerative forces.
HOW LIMBER: Such a topple impervious and tarmac sticky chassis character is former BMW M-Division chief, Albert Biermann’s, greatest gift to the Veloster N. Beyond the amusing opposite lock drifting, the quick ratio of the tantalizingly thick and handsomely web stitched helm translates plenty of the Michelin Pilot Sports’ raw adhesion in it’s nearly fearless assault on esses. Serious negative camber dialed into the independent rear suspension keeps the Veloster N tracking true.
Despite such large footwear, e-variable damper valving stiffens calmly for abrupt elevation changes without undulation. Long interstate bouts on concrete ribbon respond with little expected jitter or tramlining. Brake clamping is plenty linear the a progressive pedal. Be it vented rear rotors, high friction pads or high temperature brake fluid, successive hot laps produce minimal judder but no fade.
A bit too obvious for the genteel set is the amount of drivetrain noise and some amount of road noise which passes into the cabin.
HOW FAR: 24 combined miles per gallon; 450 mile range
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ Quite the spacious cockpit area for a compact sports coupe; Although clearly a class down in rear seat legroom to a Golf or Civic, it’s actually an inter-city trip tolerable for grown-ups. -1 Careful with that head dip through the rear passenger side 3rd door.
HOW USEFUL: √ Slight incline folding 60/40% split 2nd Row seatbacks; √ Cord suspended rear parcel shelf; +1 Low cowl forward view / -1 Wide side pillars & small backlight impede side / aft view; Tow Rating: Not Rated.
HOW SAFE: √ 6 airbags; STD: √ Rear camera w/ predictive grid; √ Lane departure warning, Lane Keep Assist; √ Forward Collision warning, assist; √ Auto high beam lights; √ Sonar rear park assist, √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic warning, √ Pedestrian avoidance braking; √ Rain sensing windshield wipers;
- -1 Neither adaptive cruise control nor heads up display make it to the Veloster N.
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: √ Simulated suede + leatherette, front sport bucket seats, w/ driver height, adjust; √ 3 power windows w/ driver’s full express; √ “N” specific, crisp black on white dual analog gauges w/ MFD display; √ Automatic climate control
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Oversized lavender drive mode steering wheel button; √ Media screen N-Mode sport displays, with varying performance graphs and access to Launch Control; √ Onboard feature image tutorials w/ UHD graphics; √ Passenger side Row 2 door;
Details Done Right: √ Front sport seats supportive in all the right places without the typical tightness; √ Illuminated front headrest “N” emblem – just like in a $150,000 BMW M8; √ Assymetrical cabin door, mid dash color scheme: driver’s side = dark, passenger side = light; √ Thick leather sport steering wheel w/ perforated side grips; distinctive horizontal spoke multimedia, MFD & cruise control toggles, switches;
Nearly Non-Descript: Gauge cluster is too understated; Plywood hard dashboard, center console and wall / pillar plastics though with distinctive pseudo carbon fiber graining.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 8″ touch LCD 3-pane infotainment screen; √ Voice commands; √ Bluetooth hands-free communications; √ 3-D SD GPS navigation w/ voice guidance, MFD & HUD indicators; √ Streaming audio; √ Bass boomy, sufficiently loud Infinity 350W, 8-speaker audio w/ HD radio; √ Android Auto / Apple CarPlay (AVAIL.) Qi wireless charging pad; USB x 2, 12V x 1. +1 SMS Messaging
Apps = Pandora radio; HD Real time traffic, HD Weather radar;
Subscriptions: Sirius XM radio, BlueLink telematics & remote access
- +1 Deep lower front center stack wireless device storage;
- +/- Sounds of Nature mood music and matching media display images
- -1 No 2nd Row electronics power source
- -1 Limited text message response list
HOW MUCH: $34,745 = as tested 2021 Hyundai Veloster N DCT. Yes the price has gone up since 2019. But the Performance package is now standard and so is the driver’s assistance suite.
WHAT’S MISSING: Pliable cabin plastics; Heated front seats; Will there one day be all-wheel drive?
ANY COMPETITION: Honda Civic Type-R: +1 Cabin space, racy inside and out; Mini John Cooper Works Clubman: +1 Steering feel, cabin materials; Volkswagen Golf GTI: +1 Solid German build, digital cockpit;
BOTTOM LINE: Hard charging, high performance hot hatch without the hardcore compromises.