The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N kind of came out of nowhere. One day we had established hot hatchbacks like the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R. The next, Hyundai, yes, Hyundai was releasing a pocket rocket that was hot enough to take them on. I’m here to tell you, dear automotive enthusiast, that even if you’re not okay with that, this car kicks ass.
All The Right People
The thing is, if you still count yourself among those who think all the good stuff belongs to established brands, you need to catch up on what’s actually happening these days. For starters, Hyundai is no longer a builder of cheap, mediocre automobiles. It’s now up there among the best carmakers, manufacturing well put together and rather reliable transportation. It now owns Kia, and a recently born luxury brand called Genesis that’s been taking home a bunch of awards. Hyundai isn’t what it used to be.It also has all the right people working for it now, talented individuals like automotive designer Luc Donckerwolke who once put his artwork on Lamborghinis and Audis, or Albert Biermann, the dynamics engineer who was once in charge of calibrating the chassis and suspension of BMW M cars. He’s tuning Hyundais now, and the Veloster N, well it’s kind of his personal statement. Or what he likes to call: a “Corner Rascal”.Why the letter N? For Nurburgring, of course, but also for Hyundai’s huge R&D centre at Namyang, South Korea, a place I actually visited myself. Rumor also has it that the letter N, which comes after the letter M, illustrates Biermann’s next step in his career. But that’s not founded. What isn’t fake news, though, is the fact that he and the entire Hyundai brand promise that in the future, cars wearing the letter N will be fun to drive on a daily basis.It really is serious stuff. Hyundai takes a standard Veloster – its oddball four-door hatchback -, and reinforces the entire structure with extra welds and structural braces. Adaptive dampers are standard equipment, so is an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, larger brake rotors, and vented rear discs, as well as Pirelli P Zero PZ4 rubber.Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four good for a healthy 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, all sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, with rev matching. And no, there’s no automatic. Pricing is equally pleasing, with only one, standalone model (in Canada) with no available options listed at a very affordable $34,999.
While I continue to firmly believe that the Honda Civic Type R is the best hot hatch money can buy, this Veloster N stands not far away from it simply for its flamboyant character. Fire up its turbo engine, and the immediate audible distinction is its sports tuned exhaust rumbling underneath your seat.Hit the giant blue button with a flag on it located on the steering wheel, and it’s all cranked up a notch. In fact, everything in a Veloster N can be adjusted to your liking through a super-well laid out and easy to operate infotainment interface. Weather it be damping, steering heft, stability control, diff locking, or the aforementioned exhaust note, you can change all of those dynamics as you wish.In N mode, the Veloster N is loud, emitting a series of violent crackles and pops, all while snorting with angst as if it was just released from its cage. On the road, it tracks like the best German cars out there, feeling light and agile the moment you throw it into a corner.Steering response is sharp, and the chassis is super stiff, allowing for good old fashion road slicing. There’s enough dynamic brilliance here to keep pushing without feeling like the whole thing will fall apart. The Veloster’s gone a long way from its humble origins.Gun the throttle and its turbo engine picks up quickly with plenty of urgency and feistiness, front tires gripping on for dear life as torque steer is all but apparent. The Veloster N is fun, loud, quick and immensely capable, so much so, that you quickly start wondering why you should dish out ten grand more for a Golf R. This thing was tuned to perfection.
Still A Bit Raw
That all said, there are some areas where the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N could improve. While steering inputs are razor sharp, feedback remains distant, especially during hard driving. Also, when set to N mode, this thing is immensely stiff, leading to a not-so-comfortable ride on Québec’s beaten roads. Also leads to some unwanted cabin rattles, revealing the car’s economy car origins. And while the brakes are good, there’s an annoying slack at the top of the brake pedal. So in that respect, both a Golf R or a Civic Type R offer more daily driveable comfort.But the Veloster’s cabin is still a nice place to spend some time in, with a clean and functional cabin design adorned with materials that make the car look and feel more expensive than it is. Look a little lower, however, and it doesn’t take long before spotting some cheap flimsy plastics. Rear seat room is surprisingly roomy, but I continue to question Hyundai’s decision of keeping an awkward four-door layout.What really shines through with Hyundai’s latest fire-breathing hatch, is that it actually has character, enough of it for slotting smack between the surgically serious Civic Type R and the refined athleticism of a Golf GTI. While yes, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N still has a rough side to it, the way it drives, pulls and makes you smile is good enough to be taken seriously. Indeed, this is Hyundai’s first attempt at building such a vehicle, but with the Veloster N, it feels like it’s been doing this for decades.
Review of the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N by William Clavey
Sport Compact Cars
- Solid performance for the price
- Badass exhaust note
- Practical hatch
- Some bargain basement interior materials
- Stiff suspension (in N mode)
- Missing a door
8 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Hyundai Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]