We personally love hot-hatches, as they offer a driving experience full of fun and yet still practical, comfortable and affordable enough you can take your family and belongings with you. Hyundai’s sports car has been popular since the end of the 1990s, especially in European and Asian markets. As automobiles get more expensive and bigger, hothatches are considered as a revolution. Instead of modifying regular mass-produced hatchbacks, car manufacturers offer “factory-prepared” high-performance versions of them for a small price premium. The hothatch market actually started with Mini Cooper in 1960s in Europe, and today it is more popular than ever. In North America, hatchbacks have historically not been popular, but this trend is slowly changing, as they get faster and more competitive with supersport cars.
Yes, we said Supersport cars. “Cheap” hot-hatch lap times in Nürburgring are getting closer, and sometimes even better. Hyundai Veloster N is one of them. The letter “N” is the first letter of Korean City named Namyang, where Hyundai’s headquarters is located, as well as it is primed for the Nürburgring Nordschleife. This car actually is developed by Albert Biermann, former head of BMW M division, which shows Hyundai’s effort to produce a car to challenge the big boys in its class, such as Honda Civic Type R.
Engine and Drivetrain
Well, it’s a hot-hatch, so we have to talk about the most important thing makes it different from a base Veloster. The Veloster N comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It weighs just above 1400 kg, so power to weight ratio is impressive, and more than enough for a small hatchback to get moving. The engine is a part of THETA family which is used in other Hyundai/Kia models, but there are significant changes such as different engine internals and turbocharger. We are impressed with the torque curve as it spools up around 1500 rpm and still lots of torque all the way to the redline. The engine is matched with 6-speed manual transmission only, and gear ratios are set perfectly for both daily and track use.
Exterior and Interior
Veloster N exterior is looking extremely attractive especially if you are a person who likes hatchbacks. Its light blue color makes it even more distinctive in its class. Overall body lines look exactly the same with base Veloster, whereas this one has bigger wheels, sporty-looking front-rear bumpers and rear wing, which doesn’t look like cartoonish like the latest Type-R. This is one of the better looking sporty hot-hatchs in its segment. Of course, 3-door design is what makes the Veloster different and genuine. While having a coupe look, rear seats are still more accessible than a regular coupe, which makes a huge difference. Also, wheels look great, it comes with 19” rims as well as 235/35 Pirelli tires. Well done, Hyundai.
With regard to the interior features, this is where it has a lot of common points with the base Veloster, there are minor changes such as sportier seats, N badged steering wheel, different instrument cluster, N performance addition to the infotainment system where it shows performance data, and that’s it. There are no soft-touch plastics in the interior, so that’s a bummer for a car costs $35.000. For a more detailed review, please see our regular Veloster review link here . What we didn’t like about the Veloster N is, it is actually missing some vital safety features like blind-spot monitoring which is available on a base model. For a 3-door coupe, it should be a standard feature no matter what version you get. Instead of having a heated steering wheel in a sporty hatchback, we’d rather have more safety features. If it is just for cost-cutting or weight saving, we think it’s not worth it.
Other than not having blind-spot monitoring, it still has some important features, like cruise control (not adaptive), heated front seats, Infinity premium audio system, 8.0” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear-view camera, and Hyundai’s great infotainment system. If you look comfort features like cooled – powered seats, you should look elsewhere as this segment is simply not for you.
There is a small difference in the infotainment system though, which is the N mode. Unlike many of its competitors, it offers great customization for suspension, steering, engine, traction control, rev-matching setups. You can choose for comfort mode, all the way up to track/sportiest setup for each section. Most of its competition offers few different driving modes and that’s it. Veloster N takes it to another level by offering not only multiple driving modes, such as N – N Custom – Sport – Comfort and Eco, you can customize all driving dynamics to your liking.
This is where Veloster N really shines. As mentioned, it offers multiple customization options that makes the driving experience more enjoyable and suitable for all conditions. We kept the suspension usually in street mode, as it is overly dampened in N mode. Normal mode is stiff enough to remind you that this is not a base Veloster, but not super stiff that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you switch to N mode, this is where it gets uncomfortable, you shouldn’t be driving in this mode on public roads anyway. Steering feeling is nice, but again, they adjusted it so well, street mode is the way to go. Exhaust modes are different story though, we enjoyed it in fully open mode, as it sounds awesome. It makes popping sound if you rev it over 4000 rpms. Most potential buyers don’t even have to get an aftermarket exhaust system to get a better sound, as Hyundai already offers it out of the box.
When we take the Veloster N to some tight corners, we are even more impressed. The electronic differential works extremely well, it is difficult to get the car understeer while cornering. If you are on the limit, you should be on the throttle to feel that the differential is trying to pull the car towards the corner. Braking performance is also good, Hyundai somehow decided to use modified Kia Optima brake calipers to keep the costs low, instead of using Brembo brakes. We didn’t have a chance to take the car to the track, but it is more than enough for spirited driving on the public road.
Driving mode differences are strikingly significant. When the driver wants to take it easy, Comfort mode makes the driver feel like he is driving a base Veloster, it is silent and comfortable enough to get you from home to work, but when you want to have fun, it can be a great weekend warrior and corner carver. This is why we love hot-hatch cars, as they offer multiple driving characters for the affordable price range, and the Veloster N took it to another level where you can literally daily drive it and take it to a track day with no problem.
The traction control in sport mode is also not too intrusive, which we really appreciated as you wouldn’t want to completely turn it off on public road, and it is fully adjustable and you can make it more sensitive for wet conditions. Hyundai offers a great driving experience with the Veloster N, as it still lets the driver decide how much he wants the car to get involved and help the driver, while still being engaging, fun to drive and competitive in hothatch segment.
Overall, we enjoyed driving the new Veloster N. It is new in its class, and competing with old boys like VW Golf R and Civic Type R. We can definitely say the Veloster N can keep up with the competition despite being new in this class, which is surprising for us. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, there is still room for improvement, but this is a legit first attempt makes its rivals nervous about the next move. The Veloster N starts at $34.999 Canadian and that’s actually the only option that you can get. Considering its rivals have MSRP of $43.000 and more, this is a bargain and it offers best bang for the buck in this segment. We can definitely recommend the Veloster N if you are looking for a sporty hatchback as it offers a great overall package that you can use it for both track days and grocery shopping, and even some short trips.
Some of our takeaways are:
+ Great driving dynamics + customization
+ Excellent handling and engine performance
+ More practicality despite having a coupe design
+ Price – Performance ratio is the best in its class
Things can be improved
– Missing some essential safety features, such as Blind Spot Monitoring and LED Headlights
– Too much hard plastics for a car costs over $35.000 CAD.
Article & Photos by Dan Gunay