Fast Take: 2019 Hyundai Veloster N

Best. Hyundai. Ever.

Words by: Adam Allen

What is it?

Ladies and gentleman, allow us to introduce you to the Hyundai Veloster N, a car they might’ve considered naming the First N. While the marketing team might have a tough go stomaching that proposition- they’re likely pretty happy with keeping the Veloster title- it would be a fitting designation considering the ground this car breaks on so many levels. Firstly, it’s the first car available under Hyundai’s young performance sub brand which carries the N designation. It’s the first four-cylinder engine from the company, turbocharges or otherwise, that is seriously pleasing to the ears. It’s the first real challenger here in the Canadian marketplace that will mount a serious threat to the hot hatch kings in the VW Golf R and the Honda Civic Type R. And in yet another first, we cannot recall ever driving a Hyundai (OK, maybe the Genesis G70, but technically that isn’t a Hyundai) in which we could not erase the ear-to-ear grins plastered across our mugs after a drive.

What’s it like inside?

Ever spent time in a Hyundai Veloster? The interior is the same, down to the unconventional 3-door layout. No, wait, therea few key differences that set the N apart from its less aggressive siblingsthat you should know about. The first thing you become aware of is the seats. They look kind of unremarkable but offer a near perfect blend of comfort and support and allow for a perfect relationship with the controls. Next you grab the steering wheel and notice some interesting buttons that aren’t on the menu in lesser Velosters, like the selectable drive modes switch and one adorned with a checkered flag- this one puts the car in ‘N’ mode and instantly sets up the car with all your performance preferences- all of which are customizable, including suspension firmness to the behavior of the electronic limited slip differential. There’s also a button to shut off automatic rev matching on the manual gearbox, and while that might seem like a trivial detail the other guys bury this feature in a bunch of layers within the infotainment system. That might not be such a chore in Hyundai’s case as their infotainment is generally excellent, but It is welcome nonetheless. The only issues we noted were the lack of navigation, an express up/down feature for the passenger side window and door panels that are outfitted in a huge swath of questionable black plastic. That’s it, really.

What’s it like to drive?

While the Veloster N’s stay in the Carpages Garage was a brief one, it was a telling visit just the same. How can we describe the driving experience without resorting to hyperbole? We’ve never been any good at keeping our excitement for truly special cars in check, but we’ll certainly try. Here goes: The Veloster N’s goodness is such that it instantly becomes part of the conversation of the best front-wheel drive cars you can buy. There are going to be many enthusiasts out there who had their heart set on a Civic Type R- still a phenomenal car, to be sure- but once they drive the Veloster N their decision will not be so easily made. The zippy Hyundai is only tenths of a second slower from naught to 100 km/h and sounds great while you wind it out. Albert Biermann and his crack team of engineers have blessed the car with suspension that grips like flypaper and the electronic diff refuses to let your cornering line go awry, no matter how sloppy your inputs. The gearbox and brake feel, as well as pedal placement are first rate too. It isn’t flawless- it does not offer the full bandwidth of grip  suprising suppleness that the Type R does, even in its most relaxed setting; and it can feel somewhat harsh on our winter pulverized streets. A surprise: the turning circle is absolutely massive. It’s likely because of the trick suspension geometry and huge tires cause the affliction, and so we can forgive it based on that. If your commute involves threading the needle through some tight spaces, expect to be performing multi-point turns on a regular basis.

Why you should care:

This is not just an incredible execution of a performance car for a Hyundai, it’s an incredible execution of a performance car, period. The fact that this is a first foray into this segment makes it hard to believe, but here we are, singing the praises of the Veloster N at the top of our lungs. If there is a car that offers more smiles for the kilometers at this price point, we’d like to see it. Hyundai has invested heavily into the engineering side of their offerings and those dividends are beginning to pay out handsomely. Simply put, they nailed it with the Veloster N. Take one for a drive and we’re sure you will agree.

2019 Hyundai Veloster N— Specifications

  • Price as tested: $36,704
  • Body Type: 3-door hatchback
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
  • Engine:  2.0 turbocharged inline four, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 276 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (lbs.-ft.): 260 @ 1,450rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Curb weight: 1,402 kg (3,090 lbs.)
  • Fuel consumption: 11.5L/100km (20 mpg)