In what will be disappointing news for some, Hyundai has dropped the 6-speed manual transmission from the 2020 Veloster Turbo Ultimate. That raises a question: Why must we sacrifice a more engaging ride for a few more amenities?
The short answer, to quote your mother, is: “Because I said so.”
Actually, Hyundai figures if manual shifting is your thing, then you’ll likely prefer the new N Performance version. Introduced for 2019, it offers the 6-speed tranny with rev matching and a bigger inline 4-cylinder turbo that’s good for 275 horsepower. It also has bigger brakes, adjustable exhausts and active dampers.
For the rest who’d rather strike a balance between driving fun, cool tech and mpg, the 2020 Turbo Ultimate will remain the favorite. The one with no manual. At least it looks daring enough with its blacked-out roof and spoiler, LED-backlit instruments and head-up display inside.
Under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine capable of 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Doling out the power to the front wheels is an efficient 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but responsive paddle shifters allow the driver take more control.
The Ultimate delivers a quick and sporty ride. The 0-60 mph run comes in 6.3 seconds, according to the latest figures. That’s a fun jaunt but a full second behind the N version. The quarter-mile takes 14.9 seconds.
Customize performance by way of three drive modes: Normal, Sport and Smart. Flip it into Sport and steering really does tighten up, shift points change and suspension stiffens for cleaner handling.
Fuel economy doesn’t suffer, either. EPA estimates a combined figure of 30 mpg, and into the mid-30s on the highway. City mileage is at 28 mpg.
Interior space is better than expected for this low-slung sport machine that looks like a coupe on one side and typical sedan on the other. The bold and unique three-door hatchback offers easier access to the rear seat via one rear door, though most will likely use it for pets and packages. Shorter adults will be fine for a while in this four-seater.
There’s plenty of shoulder, leg and head room up front and visibility is good. Seats are heated, supportive and comfortable even for longer trips, and a large sunroof brightens the trip.
The interior has a sporty feel and appears well built with dash and door panels fitting together nicely. But the use of hard plastics detracts from a vehicle called the Ultimate. Even the arm rests on the doors are hard and uncomfortable.
The Ultimate gets a larger 8-inch infotainment screen that is intuitive and quick in its responses. It accommodates navigation and an upgraded 8-speaker Infinity sound system, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A wireless
charging pad is handy and an unusual perk for this segment.
Standard safety includes forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist and a driver drowsiness monitor. The Ultimate adds adaptive cruise control with emergency braking, blind spot monitor and pedestrian detection.
For storage, Veloster has 20 cubic feet of space for groceries, camping gear and the like – and can still seat four. Fold the rear seats down and the cargo area grows to 44.5 cubic feet.
Hyundai has added tie-downs in the cargo area for 2020, too. So, even with the automatic transmission, Hyundai apparently figures there will be fun times behind the wheel.
What’s all the excitement about? Fun ride, surprising mileage and cool tech (and never forget Hyundai’s 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty)
Powertrain: 1.6-liter engine turbocharged 4-cylinder paired with 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
How’s the performance? Taut handling and quick enough with 0-60 mph at 6.3 seconds
Fuel economy: EPA estimates 28 mpg city, 34 highway; 30 mpg combined