2019 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec
Class: Sporty/Performance Car
Miles driven: 217
Fuel used: 8.7 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 24.9 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 26/33/29 (city, highway, combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||C|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $22,900 (not including $885 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: None
Price as tested: $23,785
The great: Zippy engine, crisp handling, good value for the dollar
The good: Unique styling blends sporty looks with hatchback practicality, decent fuel economy
The not so good: Compromised rear visibility, some so-so interior materials, suspension composure isn’t as polished as some rival sport compacts’
One of Hyundai’s new second-generation Veloster 3-door hatchbacks is a sporty model known as the R-Spec, but you could call it the “R-Speck.” It sure is tiny—and that goes for its starting price of $23,785 with delivery, too.
The Speck is the cheapest branch on the turbocharged 1.6-liter limb of the 2019 Veloster family tree; other branches are the Turbo, and the Turbo Ultimate that Consumer Guide previously tested. For the (modest) money, the R-Spec struts around with nicely aggressive looks from black 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/40R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer-tread tires. (Red exterior highlights, a black diamond-pattern grille, and centered twin round exhaust outlets are common to all Turbos.) Inside there is a special sport shifter for the mandatory 6-speed manual transmission. The instrument panel and leather-wrapped steering wheel are spruced up with yellow-tinged highlights, and the same color is used for stripes and stitching that enliven the gray-and-black seats clad in what one CG editor refers to as “sweatshirt fabric.”
This is a car that is easy and agreeable to drive. The 201-horsepower engine is eager (and just slightly more so in “Sport” mode) with minimal turbo lag, and with the manual transmission it’s not subject to the odd shift behavior of the 7-speed dual-clutch automated-manual that CG found in the Ultimate test car. The R-Spec’s 6-speed shifter isn’t exactly a precision instrument; there’s a little looseness to it, and the gates for the odd-numbered gears are a bit of a reach. But the clutch is light and easy to modulate.
Dynamically, it handles and stops well, and clings to curves. That said, it’s possible to find hints of torque steer in brisk acceleration, and the summer rubber is a bit noisy at elevated highway speeds. Ride quality from the sport-tuned suspension is not fully to the level of some of its small sporty/performance-class competitors.
Manual-transmission Velosters don’t have quite the fuel-economy ratings projected for the dual-clutch automatic. The EPA projects the turbo with stickshift at 26 mpg in the city, 33 on the highway, and 29 combined. CG’s overall mileage came up short of the city figure, though one driver got very close to matching the combined estimate in his stint that was evenly divided between city and highway driving.
The R-Spec keeps its price low by avoiding certain luxuries and extra levels of tech that can be found further up the line. Soft-touch surfaces are scarce too. Nonetheless, it does come with LED headlights and taillights, automatic high beams, heated mirrors, a 4.2-inch color vehicle-information display, air conditioning, keyless access and starting, alloy-faced pedals, an 8-speaker premium audio with satellite radio and an 8-inch display screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, Hyundai Blue Link telematics, lane-keep assist, driver-attention warning, and forward-collision warning and mitigation. The audio and climate systems are dead simple to reach and operate.
The 2019 Veloster’s reworked roof design improves rear-seat headroom, but the straight-back view for drivers remains limited. There’s fine headroom and legroom for front passengers, and enough rear legroom to keep a couple of average-sized adults from feeling cramped. Cargo loads onto a flat floor but it has to clear a tall lip first. The 60/40-split rear seats fold almost flat, though at a few inches above the level of the trunk floor.
A considerably more muscular Veloster, the N, is on the way for drivers who crave a hotter hatchback. Meanwhile, the R-Spec represents the core car’s inexpensive fun-to-drive nature but with a little more attitude. For some shoppers, that will be Speck-tacular enough.