There are not many cars in the market that offer this much fun in such an affordable package.
Few automakers are as ambitious and eager as Hyundai. In recent years, we have seen the brand revamp nearly their entire lineup, and expand their reach by launching the Genesis brand, aiming for a segment that is traditionally hardest to please. On the other end of the spectrum, Hyundai introduced us to their high-performance N division that aims squarely at the driving enthusiasts who are seeking for a car that is capable to deliver fun on both the track and the street, like this 2020 Hyundai Veloster N.
The first, and so far, only Canadian market N model (not to be confused with N Line models which is Hyundai’s designation for their sports trim) is the Veloster N. According to Hyundai, this hot hatchback went through rigorous testing at the Nürburgring in Germany, with goals of delivering driving engagement to a cluster of hot hatch buyers who are only left with the Volkswagen GTI (reviewed here) after the departure of the Ford Fiesta ST and the Ford Focus ST from North American markets. For 2020, the Hyundai Veloster N returns mostly unchanged.
Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder that produces 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, the Veloster N has no problem keeping up with its competition. With a relatively light 3,148-pound curb weight, punchy turbocharger, and the satisfying crackle elicited by the high-flow active sport exhaust with every shift, the N feels like it outputs more than 300 horses.
The standard six-speed manual is easy to shift, and can rev-match itself on downshifts when in the sporty N mode setting. We noticed the rev-matching speed was a split-second delayed during our spirited runs with the Veloster N, and opted to turn off the feature using the expansive N-custom menu. There are seven parameters (Engine/Rev Matching/e-LSD/Exhaust sound/Suspension/Steering/ESC) that can be individually controlled, allowing drivers to have a truly tailored driving experience.
Regardless of one’s preference, our recommendation in any street setting is to leave the suspension at ‘Normal’, as the Veloster N’s ride is firm even in its softest configuration. Good thing though, the trade-off to the harsh ride is the fantastic cornering ability. Throw it into a corner, and the N will respond with minimal fuss and the eLSD helps keep its understeer in check. The quick steering can feel a bit twitchy at its sportiest settings, but is accurate and nicely weighted. The brakes are responsive and confidence inspiring. We found the overall driving dynamics so rewarding that we cannot help but to throw it into every corner, and would find ourselves with a smile on our faces time and time again.
Fuel economy is rated at 10.6L/100km in the city, 8.3L/100km on the highway, for a combined average of 9.5L/100km. We observed an average of 10L/100km during our week of city-heavy commute, a fair achievement given the liberal enjoyment with the throttle all week. As expected with any high-output turbocharged engine, 91-octane premium grade gasoline is required and the Veloster N has a 50-litre fuel tank capacity.
The Veloster N is styled with classic hatchback proportions. We love the raked roofline creating a fastback look, and the styling is not overdone to avoid looking too boy-racer on the street. There are four colours to chose from, and even though the Performance Blue colour is the most representative of the N brand, the “Ignite Flame” paint job on our tester is just as eye catching. Hyundai paid extra attention to the details and painted the sporty red trim accents on the exterior dark grey, something we would have liked to see on any red Nissan 370Z NISMO (reviewed here).
All Hyundai Velosters feature an unconventional third (or should we say fourth?) door on the passenger side that makes entry and exit into the backseats much easier. Hyundai shortened the passenger side front door as to not sacrifice body line to accommodate the additional panel. This keeps the car looking like the proper pocket rocket that it is. We particularly liked the design of the 19-inch wheels, though it’s a question as to how much better the ride quality would be if Hyundai had used an 18-inch set.
You can distinguish the Veloster N’s interior from the standard model by the use of their Performance Blue colour in the seat belt, the seats’ contrast stitching, and in other areas of the cabin. The sport seats are heavily bolstered to provide lateral support, but not uncomfortable even for extended commutes. There is great head and legroom for the front passengers, however, as one would expect give the size and shape of the Veloster, rear passengers are going to feel a bit cramped. The 565-litre cargo area is accommodating with a deep opening, and the rear seats can be split-folded for extra volume.
An eight-inch touchscreen controls the infotainment, which is straight forward and easy to use. Touch commands are responsive, and the screen resolution is on-par with its competition. There is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support for those who prefer to be connected. A special feature for the Veloster N is the dedicated instrument cluster with a variable redline feature that limits how much drivers can push the car before it is properly warmed up, and a shift light that reminds the driver as it gets near that redline.
The Veloster N lacks many of the standard driver’s assist features such as adaptive cruise control, frontal collision-avoidance assist, and lane keep assist systems, that are offered by its competition, namely the Honda Civic Si (reviewed here) and the Volkswagen GTI. Buyers who are specifically looking for these features can find them in the standard Veloster models, but in keeping up with the industry, it will be inevitable for them to join the N family at some point as well.
The 2020 Hyundai Veloster N starts at $35,049, and the only option available is $200 for the paint scheme for those who want anything but white. At an as-tested total of $35,249, the Veloster N checks in at about $4,000 more than the base price for a Civic Si and the Volkswagen GTI. All three are fun to drive in their own rights, but the Veloster N feels more special because of the extra power it offers, the exhaust growl, and the overall uniqueness being the only dedicated model from Hyundai’s performance division.
Hyundai set out to create a genuinely fun to drive hot hatch with the 2020 Hyundai Veloster N, and we would say they have definitely achieved that. There are not many cars in the market that offer this much fun in such an affordable package. Now that Hyundai has gotten our appetite going, we cannot wait to see the next model from the N performance division.