Hyundai Veloster: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Finalist

WE LIKE Styling inside and out, three-door whimsy, no-lag turbos, value

WE DON’T LIKE Base-model road noise, hard plastics, Elantra-sourced 2.0L engine

A dab of asymmetry, undeniable value, coupe-flavored hatchback styling, and a penchant for a good time? That’s a great way to get the judges’ attention.

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As it did in its first iteration in the 2012 COTY contest, the second-gen Veloster advanced to the finalist round on its many merits. Back then we suggested what it would take for the Veloster to make the leap: “When Hyundai gives it the engine it desperately needs and tunes the suspension to deliver the sportiness the exterior suggests, this will be the hottest pocket-rocket in the segment.”

Looks like Hyundai listened. The 2019 version benefits from a larger, more powerful base engine, two new (and terrific) optional turbocharged motors, a better stick shift, an optional dual-clutch automated manual, an improved chassis, and independent rear suspension. In the process, Hyundai broadened trim offerings and performance.

Pricing starts at a reasonable $19,385 for the 147-hp base car up to about $30,000 for the 275-hp high-performance N model, and each step up the Veloster ladder adds equipment and driving enjoyment. We were impressed by the standard lane keeping assist and automatic braking, plus the availability of adaptive cruise control, head-up display, and premium audio. The Goldilocks of the brood is the $23,785 R-Spec, which delivers near-N performance for thousands less.

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