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2013 Hyundai Veloster Wacky and wonderful>

You have to wonder what the designers were smoking when they came up with the styling for the Hyundai Veloster. It’s squatty, sharply raked, has huge wheel arches and features three doors (rear passenger side). What’s even stranger is the design works. Sure, it may take a while to grow on you, but in the design world, that’s a good thing; it means you won’t get bored looking at it over time.

It also works because it has great interior and cargo volume (the hatchback makes it easy to load and unload cargo), along with good fuel economy, fun-to-drive handling and performance, and comes in a turbocharged version as well for those who want to bump up the excitement level a notch or two.

The Veloster goes up against small sporty vehicles like the Scion tC and Honda CR-Z, and compares quite favorably, with a lower base price of $17,450, standard rear spoiler versus optional on the Scion and Honda, standard illuminated vanity mirrors not available on the others, more front head, shoulder and leg room, more passenger volume and more.

Whether you love or hate the exterior design, the inside should please almost everyone looking for good value and lots of features. While we’re not talking the roominess of a minivan, it still works for taller or wider customers, and offers Hyundai’s blueLink telematics system that provides a long list of peace-of-mind features such automatic collision notification, enhanced roadside assistance, remote door lock and unlock, remote vehicle start, geofencing, car finder, stolen vehicle recovery, slowdown and immobilization, and other cool features that are designed to keep you safe and secure on the road. The blueLink system requires a monthly fee, but you do get a lot for your money.

Power for the Veloster may be its weakest point, with only 138 hp and 132 lb-feet of torque from the 1.6-liter I4 engine. Don’t despair if this is too low to make you happy; the Veloster Turbo jumps in to save your day with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, besting tough competitors like the Fiat 500 Abarth, MINI Cooper S and VW Beetle Turbo, including best-in-class power-to-weight ratio. While you can opt for a six-speed automatic transmission in either model, you won’t be disappointed if you select the six-speed manual. The lightweight clutch and easy shift throws make it bearable even in the worst commuter traffic.

What makes the Veloster fun to drive is the well-tuned suspension that features an independent suspension setup in front and  a torsion beam rear, both with decent-size stabilizer bars to keep the cornering flat and controllable. The steering provides excellent feedback, and when you push it hard around corners, you realize that you can have the same amount of driving fun usually reserved for much more expensive sports cars.

Just because we all are choosing to downsize to save fuel economy doesn’t mean we have to give up our on-road entertainment. The Veloster offers good fuel economy (27/37), great handling and parkability. And a face you’ll learn to love.

Editors Choice Features for the 2013 Hyundai Veloster:

blueLink

Panoramic sunroof

BodyKit with rear spoiler made it more sexy

Proximity entry key with push button start

Written by: BJ Killeen HerHighway Contributor, Owner Team Killeen and Road-Test Editor Drivers Talk Radio and Editor Christina Selter