2019 Hyundai Veloster N: Our Newest Long-Termer Comes Out Swinging

Hyundai’s hottest car joins our fleet for a year.

Aaron GoldWriterBrandon Limphotographer

The Hyundai Veloster N is the first U.S.-market car from Hyundai's high-performance N line, and it was tuned under the watchful eye of ex-BMW M Division chief Albert Biermann. We named it one of our 2019 All-Stars, so it won't surprise you that the hottest hatch ever to hail from Hyundai has quickly built a fan base within the Automobile ranks.

However, it had to earn our respect. When the time came to pick our 2019 All Stars contenders, a small group of fan-boys proposed the Veloster N, but those who hadn't driven it questioned the notion that it could run with the industry's best new cars. (Remember how pokey the original Veloster was, and how much the first-gen Veloster Turbo  disappointed us?) Much discussion ensued, and the Veloster N got its one shot at glory—and it made the best of it.

The car inevitably invited comparison to Honda's Civic Type R, a member of the All-Stars Class of 2018 and a veteran of the Four Seasons fleet. The general consensus was best summed up by news editor Conner Golden, who said, "It's not quite as good as the Civic Type R, but for roughly $6,000 cheaper, it doesn't have to be." As our year with the Civic drew to a close, it was obvious which car would replace it—and so we welcome the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N to its own Four Seasons test.

Buying a Veloster N is easy, because most of the performance bits come standard, including a 2.0 liter direct-injected turbo engine, six-speed manual with a rev-matching feature (as with the Civic Type R, there is no automatic transmission on offer), driver-adjustable suspension, gloss-black spoiler, and plenty of racy red trim.

There's only one option package for the Veloster N, the $2,100 Performance Package, which bumps the horsepower rating from 250 to 275. (Torque is unchanged at 260 lb-ft, but peak torque is delivered between 1,450 and 4,700 rpm instead of dropping off at 4,000, as with the 250-hp engine.) The package also includes an electronic limited-slip differential, 19-inch wheels with Pirelli PZero summer tires, bigger brakes, a lower final-drive ratio, a different front stabilizer bar (presumably to reduce understeer), and a valve that opens up the exhaust. Naturally, we took it.

From there, all we had to do was pick a paint color, and here, too, the choice is easy: black, white, blue, or red (the latter with black rocker panels and grille trim). White was tempting—it would closely resemble our outgoing Civic Type R—but the sky blue looks stunning, so we chose it.

The crew wasted no time getting to know the Veloster N; before we even started to work on this introduction, the staff had already piled the first 1,000 miles on the clock.

"It's put a smile on my face every time I've driven it, regardless of how long of a drive I've taken," said executive editor Mac Morrison in his first logbook entry. "It's a lively little thing with a nice gearbox, and the pops and rumbles from the exhaust always crack me up. You don't expect to hear noises like that coming out of a car like this. Just such a fun, affordable performance car."

Social media editor Billy Rehbock was one of the Veloster N's early boosters, and he is pleased as can be to have access to one on a regular basis. "I was one of the first to take a crack at our long-termer, and hoo boy, is it fun to whip around in the canyons," he said. "At its best in 'N' mode where the drivetrain is at its sportiest, the suspension is at its stiffest, and the exhaust is at its loudest. Not amazing to drive in traffic this way, but on the twisting curves of Angeles Crest Highway it is fantastic. Styling is a bit more cheerful and a tad less 'try hard' than the Civic Type R. In my first day of driving it, I got lots of thumbs up and grins from folks on the street. I'm looking forward to a year with Hyundai's hot hatch."

Not all of us share Billy's tolerance for the Veloster N's stiffest suspension settings, and indeed one of the features that really stood out in the All-Stars competition is the ability to build a custom "N" mode to our liking—but now that we have a Veloster N of our own, this feature is already causing rifts.

"So far," wrote Morrison, "my preferred setup is to leave the suspension in Normal—the sport setting is too stiff for most street driving, as we discovered quickly at All-Stars—and to dial the powertrain to Sport+. I tend to leave the steering in Sport, as Sport+ is too heavy for my liking and it certainly doesn't make me or the car drive any better. I am constantly annoyed to find [senior editor Aaron] Gold always revises my settings to turn traction and stability control back on. He seems to think a 275-hp front-drive hatchback is somehow going to spin him off the road if he happens to hit the gas too hard. I don't turn it off because I'm driving like a maniac; I simply don't like the light flashing at me and feeling the system tugging at the corners if I happen to get a little wheelspin or a tiny slide going when I'm driving with some enthusiasm."

For his part, Gold—that's me, by the way—opines that a little extra protection is always a good thing, and that cowardice has resulted in nearly 50 years of survival. Besides, Morrison sometimes sees the world as black-and-white; in truth, the Veloster's ESC system isn't just on or off, but also has a less-restrictive Sport mode that generally leaves you alone—unless you drive like a maniac. "Fair point," he acknowledged. "But this just isn't a car that concerns me with its performance envelope—and I mean that in a good way. You can drive it as hard as you ever should on the road, having a blast, and it's not going to bite you."

Meanwhile, speaking of myself, my own first entry from the log: "Drove an 800-hp Saleen Mustang last week; next day I got into the Veloster N, dropped the hammer, and wasn't a bit disappointed. Did a 350-mile stint on back roads while scouting for another article, and found the Veloster works much better as a daily driver than the Civic Type R—you can shut off the go-faster stuff and motor along like you're in an economy car. When the roads go curvy, dial up the suspension (and of course the exhaust—pop-pop-pop!) and you can keep up with the big boys. This thing is brilliant!"

So our little blue Veloster is off to a strong start, with lots of happy, smiling faces. But we've welcomed plenty of favorites into the Four Seasons fleet only to find that married life is much different than the honeymoon. Stay tuned to Automobilemag.com to find out how we and the Veloster N are getting on.

Our 2019 Hyundai Veloster N

Overview

PRICE Price: $27,820/$29,920 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4, 275 hp @ 6,000 RPM, 260 lb-ft @ 1,450-4,700 RPM
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
LAYOUT 3-door, 4-passenger (CHECK), front-engine, FWD hatchback

Chassis

CONSTRUCTION Unibody
STEERING Electric power assisted
TURNING CIRCLE 19.1 ft
SUSPENSION, F/R McPherson strut/multi-link independent
BRAKES, F/R Dual-piston vented disc/single-piston vented disc
WHEELS, F/R 19-inch aluminum alloy
TIRES Pirelli P Zero, 235/35R19

Measurements

L X W X H 167.9 x 71.3 x 54.9 in
WHEELBASE 104.3 in
TRACK, F/R 61.2/61.6 in
HEADROOM, F/R 38.1/35.9 in
LEGROOM, F/R 42.6/34.1 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 56.0/54.3 in
CARGO CAPACITY 19.9/44.5 cu ft (rear seat up/down)
WEIGHT 3,117 lb
WEIGHT DIST F/R 64.0/36.0
EPA MILEAGE 22/28 mpg (city/hwy)
FUEL CAPACITY 13.2 gallons
FUEL RANGE 369 miles
FUEL GRADE Premium
0-60 MPH 5.9 sec
TOP SPEED 155 mph

Equipment

STANDARD EQUIPMENT
6-speed manual transmission with rev matching
Torque vectoring control
Electronically controlled suspension
23mm front/19mm rear antiroll bars
18-inch alloy wheels
Automatic LED headlights
LED taillights
Heated side mirrors
Tinted glass
Premium cloth upholstery
6-way adjustable driver seat
8-inch color touch-screen
Infiniti premium audio with 8 speakers (including subwoofer), satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
Air conditioning
Proximity key with push-button start
OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT
Performance package (+25 hp, electronic limited-slip differential, variable-valve exhaust, 19-inch wheels, Pirelli P Zero tires, larger brakes, lower final-drive ratio, 21mm front antiroll bar), $2,100
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