Believe the hype: The Hyundai Veloster N is a darn good hot hatch

When it involves sporty hatchbacks right here in the US, it has typically been a case of “the grass is greener.” For the longest time, Honda would not carry the Civic Type-R to those shores. And the inexpensive “it car” du jour is the Toyota GR Yaris, a three-cylinder enjoyable machine that wins over everybody who drives it. Everyone in Europe and Japan that is, as a result of Americans might want to wait a quarter-century to learn how the Yaris handles the Cherahola Skyway, Mount Palomar, or Angeles Crest Highway—assuming you can still buy gasoline to run it.

Well, not this time. Say hey to the $32,250 Hyundai Veloster N, a bonkers little factor with uneven doorways and dealing with tuned on the mighty Nürburgring Nordschleife. Shockingly, not solely is it on sale right here in the US, nevertheless it’s not accessible to our cousins on the different aspect of the Atlantic.

In 2020, I lastly tried out one among Hyundai’s Velosters, in this case, the Turbo model. My conclusion at the time was that the totally loaded Veloster Turbo was let down by its dual-clutch transmission and that I suspected the equally priced Veloster N could be higher. As it seems, I used to be right.

In reality, it is not simply higher; it is a type of cars the place inside a couple of minutes of setting off for the first time that it is one thing out of the abnormal.

For one factor, it will get a completely different engine from the remainder of the Veloster vary. Here, it is a L turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 275 hp (205 kW) and 260 lb-ft (353 Nm) that powers the entrance wheels. This comes with a six-speed guide transmission as normal, which apparently has an unadvertised no-lift upshift characteristic, however our check automobile was outfitted with what quantities to the solely possibility, an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) that, not like most DCTs, makes use of moist clutches that assist cool the gearbox and cut back parasitic drag. For as soon as, the guide is the extra environment friendly alternative, attaining 25 mpg mixed (9.four L/100 km); the DCT is a thirstier 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km).

Regardless of transmission, all Veloster Ns come equipped with an actual mechanical limited-slip differential, or LSD, (versus an electronic LSD that brakes a spinning wheel) known as the “N Corner Carving Differential.” And for mannequin 12 months 2021, Hyundai determined to make the Veloster N’s efficiency package deal normal tools.

I <three mechanical LSDs

My first expertise with a front-wheel drive automobile with a mechanical LSD got here after I put a new gearbox in the 1992 Golf GTI that I used to race with some friends, and the distinction is illuminating. You can get on the energy earlier, and all through the flip, the diff apportions torque throughout the axle, stabilizing the automobile and quelling the understeer that you simply would possibly usually get from a FWD hatch as you enhance the energy. The extraordinarily addictive Honda Civic Type-R is one other inexpensive FWD efficiency automobile with a mechanical LSD, and it is partly why that automobile likes to nook as a lot because it does.

There is a pair of powder-blue buttons on the steering wheel. The one on the left, labeled Drive Mode, switches you between Eco, Normal, Sport, and Custom. Sport is fairly good, and I spent the first day or so utilizing it and drastically having fun with myself on some empty again roads, till I attempted urgent the right-hand button, merely marked with a checkered flag. Good factor I did, as this activates N mode, which is like Sport however oh a lot extra. This mode sharpens throttle response much more, stiffens the electronically managed dampers—to the detriment of experience high quality, however you will not care—engages a extra extreme profile for the LSD, loosens the stability management security web, and makes the steering extra direct.

I’d additionally wish to reward the communication by the steering, which gives loads of suggestions about the quantity of grip accessible to the entrance wheels. I used to be positive that the Veloster N used hydraulic energy steering, however no; it is {an electrical} power-steering system, though one which’s completely different from all the different Velosters in that the motor is mounted to the steering rack, not the steering column.

Sport and N modes additionally make the Veloster N sound a lot fruitier. Some might flip their noses up as a result of the sound partly comes from the automobile’s audio system, however so what? It sounds good, and that is what issues to the driver. (And actually, is utilizing a speaker to cancel some undesirable harmonics or intensify some others actually any completely different from OEMs that match sports activities exhausts that add nothing when it comes to efficiency?)

Do your seats gentle up?

All of this is accompanied by some inside and exterior bits that mark the Veloster N out from lesser variations. At the rear, there’s a biplane wing (or is it a spoiler?), and alongside the sides, there are extra excessive aspect skirts. On the inside, you get a pair of sports activities seats that grip you effectively, and while you unlock the automobile, the N logos on the backrest gentle up. Despite this bit of caprice, the seats weigh round four lbs (2 kg) lower than normal seats. And the seat belts are the identical N powder blue as the steering wheel buttons.

While I’m very impressed with the Veloster N, it is not fairly as good as a Civic Type-R. The Honda’s seats hug you higher, the automobile corners even more durable, and it is about 11 % extra highly effective than the Hyundai. But it is also $5,000 dearer than the guide Veloster R, and that massive rear wing is likely to be off-putting to some. And I’ve been listening to very good issues about the Mk. 8 Volkswagen Golf R, however since the outgoing Mk. 7 already cost more than $40,000, the new one is unlikely to be as inexpensive as the Veloster N.

The Hyundai is not a automobile for everybody, however for US hot hatch fanatics, there’s lastly a nice possibility that we get however Europe does not.

Listing picture by Hyundai

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