2019 Hyundai Veloster N Long-Term Update: Three Fun Months

Hyundai’s hot-hatch continues to hold our attention, and then some.

Mac MorrisonwriterBrandon Limphotographer

Three months and 4,192 miles into our Four Seasons long-term test of the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N, not one Automobile staff member has copped to growing tired of it, or even beginning to find it the least bit mundane or gimmicky.

In fact, it seems the more miles we pile on the sky blue hatchback, the more our appreciation grows for what is easily the best enthusiast car Hyundai has produced. We've found opportunities to take it to some twisting roads just for the hell of it, as you do with any worthwhile performance car, but you don't need to go far or find time for an extended run on the best routes available to you to feel like you've gotten something out of the experience.

"I just spent five days with the Veloster N," said senior editor Aaron Gold, who is arguably the car's most staunch supporter within our ranks. "With a constant parade of new cars passing through our test fleet, it's easy to take some of them for granted, but I don't think that'll ever happen with the Veloster N. For all its sporty goodness, it's such an easy car to live with—and remember we're talking about a stick-shift car in Los Angeles. Light clutch, easy shifter, and an engine capable of delivering peak torque from just past idle to 4,700 rpm. This car epitomizes the reasons I regard anyone who says, 'I love manuals, but I live in L.A. so I bought an automatic,' with suspicion."

The Hyundai is reasonably useful in practical terms, too, and not just a car that should be considered by boy racers willing to sacrifice everyday capability in the name of going as quickly and loudly at all times as their budgets allow. "Over the weekend, the Veloster N showed its flexibility," Gold offered as evidence. "I took it to a party for the Fourth of July; friends who expected me to show up in something fancier were duly impressed. I gave a ride to one who uses a walker: no problem, with the rear seats folded it fit right in. Grocery shopping: plenty of room. In fact, I'm starting to wonder why I don't own one of these."

Along with its utility, the Veloster's adjustability continues to be one of its most popular attributes around these parts. Quick changes are available for the suspension, steering, exhaust, differential, and throttle response—via either a steering-wheel-mounted "N" button or through the on-screen "N" menu—and the available combination of settings has turned out to be a nerdy source of inter-office amusement, as each of our drivers from time to time considers and critiques the settings of others. Gold and I continue to bicker about whether or not it makes sense to leave traction control and the stability program engaged (I say no, he says yes), while others debate the merits of the overly heavy steering that comes on when you select Sport+ for that particular parameter. For my money, the best setup sees you select Sport or even Normal for the steering, Sport for the differential (there is no Sport+ here), and Sport+ for the engine/throttle and exhaust.

Our staff is more in lockstep, however, when it comes to the suspension. Keeping it in Normal mode is usually the most appealing, even when driving hard. It makes the car comfortable while still handling with verve; Normal, in this case, does not mean oatmeal soft. The Sport setting is fun when you feel like experiencing more feedback and want to batten down the car's body motion, but under almost no circumstances do we find Sport+ appealing. It's so ridiculously stiff, it makes the car borderline intolerable. There are plenty of cars on the market with adjustable suspension damping where you need to pay attention to really feel the difference through the seat of your pants; in the Veloster N's case, the opposite is true. Flip to Sport+ on the fly and you immediately begin to buck and bob in your seat, and not in any sort of amusing way. It's a shock to your system, and it creates one of the most uncomfortable street-car rides we've come across in years on a stock production car.

"I hadn't put the suspension in that mode for quite some time," observed one driver. "So I turned it on and, holy smokes, I just started laughing at how ridiculous it is. I drove for all of one mile, if that, before I bailed out and went back to Normal." Or as senior editor Nelson Ireson commented, "It's great if you want to make yourself two inches shorter on your way to work."

That said, Automobile contributor and race driver Andy Pilgrim found Sport+ to work reasonably well when he tested a different but essentially identical Veloster N on the NCM Motorsports Park racetrack, but noted, "That's the only time I'd ever run it in that mode." (Look soon for the corresponding episode of our Pro Racer's Take video series to see his run, but for now, know that the front-drive Hyundai set a quicker time than the all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX STI Type RA.) The good news is, the different available options make it easy to find a setup that's comfortable and plenty fun.

Speaking of amusement, the Veloster N's rumbling, cracking exhaust continues to entertain us, as it pops aggressively on the overrun, reminiscent—though not as insanely outrageous—as the sport exhaust we experienced several years ago with Jaguar's F-Type R. If there's a downside, it's a psychological one: More than once, we've conspicuously snapped, crackled, and popped our way down the road, only to come to a red light—whereupon occupants of other cars have eyed the little Veloster. We're pretty sure they've snickered if not outright laughed at us, as if to say, "Uh, nice exhaust on your…Hyundai?" We ultimately pay it no mind when we remember they simply don't have a clue as to what they're looking at, and of course you can dial back the soundtrack by simply selecting Normal for the exhaust if all the aural antics make you feel self-conscious. Meanwhile, when we have come across the opposite and encountered enthusiasts who know what the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N is, we've received loads of praise for, and inquiries about, the car.

During our first quarter with our test vehicle, it's been a reliable vessel, requiring zero dollars in maintenance or repairs—self-inflicted or otherwise. We've spent no time in the shop with any recall work, either. As for economy, so far we've burned almost 201 gallons of premium fuel at a total cost of $823.00, as the Hyundai has returned 21 mpg. Overall, if the next nine months play out like the first three have, the Veloster N stands a great chance to go down historically as one of our top-tier Four Seasons test cars.

Our 2019 Hyundai Veloster N
MILES TO DATE 4,192
GALLONS OF FUEL 200.852
OBSERVED MPG 20.87
FUEL COST TO DATE $823.00
AVERAGE COST/GALLON $4.10
MAINTENANCE $214.88
WARRANTY REPAIRS None
RECALLS AND TSBs None
OUT OF POCKET $0
SPECIFICATIONS
AS-TESTED PRICE $29,920
ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/275 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 260 lb-ft @ 1,450-4,700
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
LAYOUT 3-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback
EPA MILEAGE 22/28 mpg (city/hwy)
LxWxH 167.9 x 71.3 x 54.9 in
WHEELBASE 104.3 in
WEIGHT 3,117 lb
0-60 MPH 5.9 sec
TOP SPEED 155 mph
OUR OPTIONS 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 anti-roll bar), $2,100

 

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