Design is important to us all. Whether it lives primarily in your subconscious, or your conscious for that matter, we’re all somewhat making decisions with aesthetics as part of the process. The weight, or balance of that point in your decision making, is part of what makes us individual.
The 2020 Hyundai Veloster makes brilliant sense to those who both have design constantly at the forefront of their mind, and can also relate to the opening statement of this article. It makes even more sense in our long-termer's particular guise, Turbo Premium, to be exact.
It isn’t the most affordable sports car at $41,990 before on-roads with the dual-clutch auto, but it does represent value in areas.
Initial questions that come to mind include “I can get an i30 N for that price” and “An N Line Premium is $6750 cheaper with the same engine and more space”. These are fair points to be made; however, they were quickly quashed by my mind as they undermine the purpose of the Veloster.
Its very existence is inspired by the ethos of offering sports car vibes to those who want a touch of practicality. It's not a cookie-cutter hatch retrofitted with sports car styling. More a ‘best of both worlds’ solution. A sort of bespoke middle ground that skews more toward the sportier side than the conservative, hatchback side.
Its unique three side-door layout is worth commending. As are consumers, for that matter, for giving Hyundai enough confidence to make a second-generation version of the thing. Clearly, people are chasing something with inherent, obvious sportiness that doesn’t suffer too much compromise.
So, does the Veloster offer the right balance of looks and family friendliness to command the price that it does?
I feel like I’m a fairly strong target, or potential customer, for such a product. My car ownership history is littered with performance cars, in particular performance hatchbacks, as I’ve always loved a bit of space. I also love the whole little car that could thing – something that punches above its weight.
Not to say it has all been shopping trolleys with spoilers. I’ve owned the odd MX-5 in my time. I've just never felt like they could become part of the furniture in my lifestyle – as in I'd outgrow one, sooner rather than later.
Now, in a new family with one young child, I find myself requesting more practicality from a car, but more than ever still lusting for something fun. The idea of having a part-time two-door sports car really appeals to me, even more so now than it did then. It’s forbidden-fruit syndrome, if that’s such a thing.
First things first – does the extra door better the family-friendliness cause?
In my case, not so much. Interestingly, the Veloster has a super-asymmetric design. It’s not just design trinkets that make it look different. Its fundamental construction is formed in that way. The B-pillar is positioned in different spots on either side of the car, as to provide the third door with as much room as possible.
Despite this fair effort, ingress via the third door remains compromised by the roof line. No manner of lateral entry space can alleviate this point. Trying to get a two-year-old into a large, convertible seat can be a real pain.
You sort of have to enter with the child, elevated from the ground, as close to the middle B-pillar as possible, then powerlift them up and into the seat while bending over quite substantially. It’s a unique manoeuvre that requires some learning, and you’ll find yourself training muscles that you didn’t know you had.
During said powerlift movement, be wary of the steeply descending roof. A few bumps against the headlining will occur as you finesse your technique.
If my child could climb into the back alone, it would completely remove this bugbear, but kids do stay in auxiliary seats for quite some time. On the flip side, if the seat were rearward facing, and my child a little younger, I would have found it borderline impossible to use, let alone live with.
Once in, there is decent room. As mentioned before, the gradient of the roof line harshens as it gets further back, creating an atmosphere that's a touch dark and a little cave-like.
You’ll find adequate space for baby and passenger sitting inline. As a four-seater, whoever resides next to the child has a stack of space due to the classic sports-car-selfish seat arrangement of 2+2. The storage cubby in between the two rear chairs makes for a great spot to keep child-friendly supplies as well as drink bottles.
I visited my local park while I had the Veloster, with a planned trip returning via the grocery store. Upon loading the cargo area, I was pleasantly surprised at how much, and how easily, it managed to gobble up everything I threw at it.
Comparing spaces with the i30, the Veloster’s boot has undergone a 23 per cent compression in size. This represents 303L under the shelf compared to the i30’s 395L minimum.
It’s still quite sizable. I was able to fit my wife’s handbag, a larger bag with baby supplies, a compact stroller, soccer ball, umbrella, as well as a regular-sized archive box to store groceries, pretty easily. I had spare room, too – enough to fit another small bag at least.
The overall sizing of the boot, mainly its width, creates a space that's easy to use. I sometimes get caught up in actual measurements, but in all reality, you’d happily sacrifice a bit of litreage for a more useable space. It seems the Veloster is blessed with this positive trade-off.
Overall, like its design, it’s a bit give-and-take, or hit-and-miss, with regard to family friendliness. Yes, the third door makes for an at first and obvious convenience booster, but when deeply assessed it demonstrates shortcomings.
The boot first appears small, especially when compared to the more conventional and upright i30. However, when loaded up, it reveals nice proportions and an ability to carry a satisfactory load. That’s something a Toyota 86 or a Mazda MX-5 could never do.
I do see merit in the Veloster, even with the hefty price tag over its hatch brethren. As I pulled up at the local park, a gaggle of young adults attending soccer training all glanced over and wowed at the car. A friend of mine, who's not into cars, was also intrigued by its squatness and made mention of its aggressiveness.
Its universally acknowledged style reeks of sports car, speaking that language to everyone, from younger folk right through to grown-ups.
It does offer family friendliness in the form of a decent boot. It also has the potential to not impede on another critical part of family friendliness – which is the transportation of offspring.
However, this benefit greatly depends on the age of your children. For some, it may be impossible. For others, a godsend, empowering their irrational side with a strong reason to purchase a sports car over a traditional hatch.
Is it as family friendly as I first thought it would be? In my current situation, not as much as I’d like. Could I live with its shortcomings, even in my scenario, for what it offers in terms of looks? Most certainly.