When it arrives to sporty hatchbacks listed here in the US, it has usually been a circumstance of “the grass is greener.” For the longest time, Honda wouldn’t bring the Civic Sort-R to these shores. And the inexpensive “it car” du jour is the Toyota GR Yaris, a three-cylinder fun machine that wins above anyone who drives it. Everybody in Europe and Japan that is, because Individuals will have to have to hold out a quarter-century to find out how the Yaris handles the Cherahola Skyway, Mount Palomar, or Angeles Crest Highway—assuming you can continue to purchase gasoline to run it.
Properly, not this time. Say hi there to the $32,250 Hyundai Veloster N, a bonkers tiny factor with asymmetric doors and managing tuned on the mighty Nürburgring Nordschleife. Shockingly, not only is it on sale here in the US, but it is not accessible to our cousins on the other side of the Atlantic.
In 2020, I lastly tried out out a person of Hyundai’s Velosters, in this scenario, the Turbo design. My conclusion at the time was that the absolutely loaded Veloster Turbo was enable down by its dual-clutch transmission and that I suspected the similarly priced Veloster N would be greater. As it turns out, I was right.
In fact, it’s not just far better it is really a person of people automobiles the place you know inside a few minutes of location off for the 1st time that it is really anything out of the regular.
For 1 factor, it will get a various engine from the rest of the Veloster vary. Here, it can be a 2. L turbocharged 4-cylinder that can make 275 hp (205 kW) and 260 lb-ft (353 Nm) that powers the entrance wheels. This arrives with a six-pace handbook transmission as typical, which seemingly has an unadvertised no-elevate upshift characteristic, but our check motor vehicle was geared up with what amounts to the only possibility, an eight-pace twin-clutch transmission (DCT) that, unlike most DCTs, employs wet clutches that assist interesting the gearbox and lower parasitic drag. For after, the handbook is the extra economical option, obtaining 25 mpg merged (9.4 L/100 km) the DCT is a thirstier 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km).
No matter of transmission, all Veloster Ns come equipped with an true mechanical constrained-slip differential, or LSD, (as opposed to an digital LSD that brakes a spinning wheel) called the “N Corner Carving Differential.” And for design yr 2021, Hyundai determined to make the Veloster N’s performance offer common gear.
I <3 mechanical LSDs
My first experience with a front-wheel drive car with a mechanical LSD came when I put a new gearbox in the 1992 Golf GTI that I used to race with some friends, and the difference is illuminating. You can get on the power earlier, and throughout the turn, the diff apportions torque across the axle, stabilizing the car and quelling the understeer that you might normally get from a FWD hatch as you increase the power. The extremely addictive Honda Civic Type-R is another affordable FWD performance car with a mechanical LSD, and it’s partly why that car loves to corner as much as it does.
There is a pair of powder-blue buttons on the steering wheel. The one on the left, labeled Drive Mode, switches you between Eco, Normal, Sport, and Custom. Sport is pretty good, and I spent the first day or so using it and greatly enjoying myself on some empty back roads, until I tried pressing the right-hand button, simply marked with a checkered flag. Good thing I did, as this turns on N mode, which is like Sport but oh so much more. This mode sharpens throttle response even more, stiffens the electronically controlled dampers—to the detriment of ride quality, but you won’t care—engages a more severe profile for the LSD, loosens the stability control safety net, and makes the steering more direct.
I would also like to praise the communication through the steering, which provides plenty of feedback about the amount of grip available to the front wheels. I was sure that the Veloster N used hydraulic power steering, but no it is an electrical power-steering system, although one that’s different from all the other Velosters in that the motor is mounted to the steering rack, not the steering column.
Sport and N modes also make the Veloster N sound a lot fruitier. Some may turn their noses up because the sound in part comes from the car’s speakers, but so what? It sounds good, and that’s what matters to the driver. (And really, is using a speaker to cancel some unwanted harmonics or accentuate some others really any different from OEMs that fit sports exhausts that add nothing in terms of performance?)
Do your seats light up?
All of this is accompanied by some interior and exterior bits that mark the Veloster N out from lesser versions. At the rear, there’s a biplane wing (or is it a spoiler?), and along the sides, there are more extreme side skirts. On the inside, you get a pair of sports seats that grip you well, and when you unlock the car, the N logos on the backrest light up. Despite this bit of whimsy, the seats weigh around 4 lbs (2 kg) less than standard seats. And the seat belts are the same N powder blue as the steering wheel buttons.
While I’m very impressed with the Veloster N, it’s not quite as good as a Civic Type-R. The Honda’s seats hug you better, the vehicle corners even harder, and it’s about 11 percent more powerful than the Hyundai. But it’s also $5,000 more expensive than the manual Veloster R, and that gigantic rear wing might be off-putting to some. And I’ve been hearing very good things about the Mk. 8 Volkswagen Golf R, but since the outgoing Mk. 7 already cost more than $40,000, the new one is unlikely to be as affordable as the Veloster N.
The Hyundai is not a car for everyone, but for US hot hatch enthusiasts, there’s finally a great option that we get but Europe doesn’t.
Listing image by Hyundai