The Veloster N surprised us all when it first hit the market. Showcasing much of what Hyundai knows about building quirky, raucous, toss-able sport compacts. Like that acorn obsessed prehistoric squirrel in the Ice Age movies. Only with a triple shot of espresso on board. The Veloster N is a guaranteed good time. Like, a really really good time.
2021 introduces some compelling upgrades that deliver even more performance and Pixie Stick snorting personality. An 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is a welcome new option, where before a 6-speed manual was the only choice available. Normally, I’d prefer a manual gearbox nine times out of ten in a vehicle like the Hyundai Veloster N. However, the dual-clutch fires off gear changes with such lighting-quick precision, allowing you to hold high rpm’s to your hearts content, that you can hardly count it as a weak point in the power delivery chain.
In actual fact, it might be smart to opt for the automatic transmission. If for no other reason, so you can keep your hands firmly griping the steering wheel at all times. With a twin scroll, 2.0L turbo churning out 275 hp, this light-weight hot hatchback can accelerate with serious purpose. 0-60 in just over 5.0 seconds in fact. The 8-speed dual clutch option will add in an overboost function that temporarily raises torque from 260 to 278 lb-ft. Forget about Eco and Normal modes, flip it into Sport and hold on. The engine will snap and snarl its way up to redline. Begging to be pushed harder and driven faster. Front wheels grappling for traction, exhaust howling at the rear. It’s an exercise in self-control to not oblige the Veloster N in this way at every red light.
A stiff suspension with adaptive dampers, low center of gravity and overall light curb weight translates to a firm ride. There’s no getting around it. Even in softer driving modes, it can be a punishing experience to drive around town on roads that have any amount of wear and tear. A customizable N driving mode allows you to tailor the engines throttle response, limited-slip diff, engine rev matching, steering feel, exhaust note and dampers. Playing around with these settings will help you achieve a balance of great performance and tolerable day to day driving comfort, but you can only do so much. It’s not trying to be a Lexus ES.
That’s perfectly ok! The 2021 Veloster N isn’t pretending to be anything other than exactly what it is. A hyper-active, agile 3-door thats an absolute blast to throw into tight corners. Accelerating out with a frenzy that will have you laughing out loud. The big 13.6” front brake rotors offer plenty of bite and no noticeable fade. Impressively, there was also very little understeer. A condition that often plagues front-wheel drive cars pushed to their limits.
There’s plenty of other features included as standard fare for 2021 that were once only available with the Performance Package. Add in new driver-assistance features like blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance and forward collision warning. There’s extra horsepower, an electronic limited-slip differential and large 19” wheels. The stereo system is by Infiniti, and includes a subwoofer. The interior features more leather and the characteristic baby blue seatbelts, controls and trim elements. With all of this, it’s no wonder that the starting price has jumped by $5,000.00 over the 2020 model.
More money though it may be, the already great Veloster N is only that much better. It clearly is not the ideal mode of transportation for many. But so many others don’t want to just get from point A to point B. They want to make the commute an experience to relish, not just endure. They want to get lost on back roads, take off-ramps that aren’t there’s because they bank and curve in that perfect way that make them hard to resist. Maybe even sign up for a local track day and test their skills on a short course, or open parking lot with lots of orange cones. For these people, the Veloster N is ready to play.
Price as tested: $34,745.00