A fast-growing enthusiasm

Remember your reaction when up to a decade ago someone told you they had bought a Korean car? You probably can’t because no one willingly bought Korean cars and then admitted they did.

If you did acquire one, even if you knew nothing about cars, I almost can’t forgive you.

The purchase was very often met with distinct scepticism at best.

Rightly so, too, because when the likes of Kia and Hyundai began to be spotted regularly on South Africa’s conservative roads in the early 2000’s, motoring purists cringed.

It took many years to repair the damage to the image of these brands caused by early models.

Horrifically hideous, boring and cheaply made cars became synonymous with Korea.

Yet out of the ashes has risen a new generation of cars that not only catch your eye for the right reasons, but which are actually hugely competitive on the modern markets.

When I first read about Hyundai’s plans to launch a car called a Veloster, I had to cringe once again.

It would have to be genuinely good to live up to the expectations that name proposes.

And then I saw the photographs and I found myself daring them to build it. They did.

Every so often, someone has the insight to build a mid-range car that defies the rules, something rebellious.

In a world of repetition and blandness, this “Veloster Red”, three-doored, coupe–hatch made my day.

And yes, that’s three doors: two on the left and only one on the right.

Thank you, Korea! And it’s a good piece of kit. A very frisky 103kw 1.6 drives the front wheels through a genuinely smooth six-speed manual gearbox.

The result, simply: it’s an absolute hoot to drive. Unlike the tendency of some smaller four--cylinder engines to hide their power band somewhere in the valve bending rev range, the Veloster has plenty of grunt.

This is thanks to the engine's innovative fuel-supply trickery which allows you to comfortably avoid the red line even when driving... shall we call it... enthusiastically.

Then there’s the build quality and the interior. Everything feels solid and durable. The leather bucket seats are massively comfortable and the dashboard fascia verges on artwork.

The test unit was equipped with a multifunction touch screen from which one can control Bluetooth, the stereo etc.

It also doubles up as the display for a reversing camera which turned out to be rather useful, if not necessary. As you can tell by now, I rather like this car.

However, it is my duty to find something to moan about. So here goes. The rear visibility is less than desirable.

Due to the chunky C-Pillar and the low seating, an alarming blind-spot exists behind the rear seats.

Also, do not be fooled by that quaint rear door. The rear seating is not willing to accommodate tall people over long journeys.

Unless your head is detachable, I’d make an effort to call shotgun. As a motoring enthusiast, I couldn’t care less about these niggles though.

This is a great effort from Hyundai.

The GDi engine technology and leading innovation and makes the Veloster a benchmark in a new class.

A turbocharged version of the 1.6 was showcased by Hyundai SA in late 2013.

I am, however, quite happy to enjoy the Veloster in its present form: a civilised yet creative premium car from a premium brand.

Hyunda Veloster 1.6 GDi DCVVT 
Manual Engine1 600cc GDi DCVVT (Petrol)
Power(Kw)103 @ 6300rpm
Torque(Nm)167 @ 4850rpm
Transmission6 Speed Manual (Dual Clutch Auto Available)
Consumption Approx. 8.0l / 100km
PriceR294 000 (As Tested)
Warranty5 years/150 000km
Service Plan5 years/90 000km

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The dashboard fascia in the verges on artwork in the Hyundai Veloster. Photos: Ruan Scheepers
The dashboard fascia in the verges on artwork in the Hyundai Veloster. Photos: Ruan Scheepers
'In a world of repetition and blandness, this 'Veloster Red', three-doored, coupe–hatch made my day,' says our reviewer.
'In a world of repetition and blandness, this 'Veloster Red', three-doored, coupe–hatch made my day,' says our reviewer.
'In a world of repetition and blandness, this 'Veloster Red', three-doored, coupe–hatch made my day,' says our reviewer.
'In a world of repetition and blandness, this 'Veloster Red', three-doored, coupe–hatch made my day,' says our reviewer.