When I saw the Hyundai Veloster for the first time during its inaugural year in 2011, I thought: this is it, Hyundai’s brand new chance to really prove their worth in the hatchback wars. And it’s rather hard to deny, considering the Veloster’s inspiringly bold yet attractive design that just convincingly says, “come drive me, you’ll love me.”
Couple its ambitious design to the fact that Hyundai represents one of the greatest automotive turnarounds in all of automotive history, many of us in the automobile journalism world—including myself—had fairly high expectations. I in particular, thought this could possibly be worthy of being a competitor to the proverbial hatchback leader, the Volkswagen Golf. The South Korean automaker has been getting a lot of things right as of recent, offering up some seriously compelling alternatives to the already familiar mass-market automobile manufacturers, so why should the ball stop rolling for them?
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Though, when I had the chance to sample a friend’s 2012 Hyundai Veloster last year, I walked away a little disappointed. It didn’t quite meet my expectations of being a car for the driving enthusiast. Its lackadaisical engine, lifeless steering, and odd body motions left a feeling like I can’t get no satisfaction. It was like being convinced that you’ve just met a girl worthy of keeping around—she’s strikingly beautiful, smart and charming, but only to find out that she’s an ironing board in bed.
In my eyes, the Veloster was no different than Toyota’s equivalently hip and trendy Scion tC, which on paper and aesthetically, always seemed like it would deliver at least some goods associated with driving fun, without actually delivering—though it was plenty fine at everything else. And to further grasp the fast-changing lifestyles of the younger generations—like Scion—Hyundai introduced a much more culturally focused alternative to the base Veloster and the top dog Veloster Turbo: the limited release 2013 Hyundai Veloster RE:MIX, which sits at the middle of the pack price and equipment wise. So, what do you get?
2013 Hyundai Veloster RE:MIX Edition Specifications:
- Style: Compact four-door hatchback.
- Seating Capacity: 5.
- Base Price: $20,050.
- Price As Tested: $20,845
- Engine: 1.6L GDI (Gasoline Direct-Injected) Inline-4 – 138hp at 6300 rpm and 123 lb-ft at 4850 rpm.
- Transmission: 6-speed manual.
- 0 to 60 mph: 8.5 seconds.
- Top Speed: 118 mph.
- Curb Weight: 2,740 lbs.
- Fuel-economy: 27/37/31 mpg (city/highway/combined)
The Hyundai Veloster RE:MIX actually started life as a SEMA concept, first debuting in 2011, a result of Hyundai’s brand and marketing program “celebrating creativity in music, art, fashion, technology, gaming, culture and design”—basically everything that the typical teenage driver is interested in these days, if they’re not already a bonafide petrolhead like us lot. Having reached production status only last year after being revealed again at the 2012 SEMA Show in sales-ready form, the 2013 Hyundai Veloster RE:MIX offers a little extra kit to sweeten the already fairly enticing package…and to boost the egos of young auto enthusiast wannabes galore.
For starters on the outside, you get the choice of six exterior colors, five of which are hand-me-downed from the other two Veloster alternatives. The sixth is a bespoke color only available on the RE:MIX Edition, known as Sprint Gray, which is what festoons the outside of our Veloster RE:MIX tester. Unique 18-inch black-painted multi-spoke rollers—also made solely for this version—fill the wheel gaps nicely. Exterior aerodynamic upgrades such as more aggressive front, rear, and side lower valances provide the Veloster RE:MIX with even more sporting pretenses. Oh yea, there’s also a unique RE:MIX Edition badge, but sorry kids, it isn’t worthy of any extra horsepower.
More equipment standardization continues inside, as the RE:MIXed Veloster receives a pretty bangin’ upgraded 450-watt eight-speaker (w/ subwoofer) Dimension premium audio system (also standard on the Turbo, optional for the base), serving up the usual mixture of entertainment sources such as terrestrial and satellite radio, CD player and mobile audio integration. Keyless entry with push-button start, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, along with RE:MIX embroidered carpets and the optional ambient interior lighting kit were included.
The Hyundai Veloster has been with us for nearly two years and some automobile manufacturers have been seemingly more diligent with addressing concerns with year-to-year changes. If you were hoping the 2013 Veloster RE:MIX Edition resolved some of the noted drawbacks involving driving performance and dynamics, unfortunately, so is not the exactly the case as all of the internals carry over unchanged from the base Veloster.
That means go power is supplied by the base Veloster’s 1.6L GDI direct-injected gasoline four-banger, good for 138hp and 123 lb-ft of torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or Hyundai’s lethargic EcoShift dual-clutch six-speed automatic. With our tester equipped with the manual, the factory-rated result is a 0-60 time of roughly 8.5 seconds, which doesn’t seem like it’s too far off from the competition. But it certainly feels like it as I consistently found myself needing to downshift the smooth shifting cog swapper for some wide-open-throttle to resemble any sort of progressive forward motion. Keen readers will note that this Veloster’s 1.6L four-pot is the same mill powering the Elantra and the Accent, which seems adequate in those applications. But it doesn’t do the Veloster RE:MIX justice like in the base Veloster, voiding the car of any real driver engagement.
Resultantly, fuel economy did suffer quite a bit from these attempts to keep myself somewhat interested in the Veloster’s lazy engine. The onboard trip computer indicated that I averaged around 28 mpg. Again, not a terrible figure, but very far off from the Veloster’s rated EPA mileage of 37 mpg for highway travel.
While the Veloster’s mechanicals are unchanged with this RE:MIX Edition, Hyundai did well to at least tweak a thing or two with the handling. The first and most obvious one is the steering. It is the same electrically-assisted system as all the other Velosters, but Hyundai appears to have improved the calibration settings as it is better by two-fold. The Veloster’s original steering programming, though capable of accurate direction change, left the tiller dead, over-boosted, and reluctant to snap back to center by any means. Now, the Veloster delivers some decent weighting with proper centering feedback. Though that center point can still come across as rather vague and uninspiring, making the Veloster RE:MIX feel susceptible to wandering and crosswinds at highway speeds. And like many of the other electrically assisted systems, the Veloster could still benefit from some legitimate road feel.
The Veloster’s chassis allows for composed and predictable handling. When combined with the decent steering, altogether, it offers a sort of tossable feeling and of course, progressive understeer is the name of the game when pushed. The ride is reasonably smooth and does a decent job at providing a sense that you’re in something that costs a solid several grand more than the Veloster RE:MIX’s price suggest. But when the pavement truly became unsettling, the Veloster’s odd body motions were still prevalent. On the more pronounced undulations in the road, pitch motions teeter-tottered around as if steel girders were welded between the axle and the center point of the vehicle. It wasn’t overwhelming, but the odd motions chisel away at the commendable quality of the Veloster RE:MIX Edition’s road manners.
The Veloster RE:MIX and the model itself is far from a flop. It is an aesthetically attractive, practical, and frugal hatchback that can shuffle around quite well…and literally. It is also comfortable and pretty spacious. Except the third-door on the passenger side, that didn’t match well with my 5’11 figure. As priced, this 2013 Veloster RE:MIX costs $20,845 including a $795 destination charge, tossing up a big sign reading “extremely good value.” But for us more serious driving enthusiasts, this is a case in point that Hyundai is still a work-in-progress. The proverbial Volkswagen Golf can still be had at this price, a guaranteed choice to be a hoot when hustled. There also is the incoming Mazda3.
Though Hyundai has been able to seriously catch up with the mainstream pack with rapid maturity and blitzkrieg antics. The Veloster RE:MIX is solid proof, with equally the potential. You do get a lot of car for the money. But much like the competing Scion tC, it’s a case of “it doesn’t drive as good as it looks.” To its target market however, it’s a truly compelling alternative to the latter.
Hyundai Motor Company provided the vehicle for this review.
- By: Chris Chin