A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to test drive a Hyundai Elantra GT. That car far exceeded my expectations. When its rebel sister known as the Veloster showed up in the garage, I grabbed the keys and took a long lunch, which turned into a long weekend.
For $22,100, this Hyundai comes with a 201-hp 1.6-L twin-scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder. The price tag is attractive, but before I started daydreaming about paint colors, I had to put the car through its paces.
I followed my standard operating procedure for anything “Turbo” and headed straight for Sauvie Island, situated in the Willamette River in far North Portland. On the way there, I appreciated the gizmos and gadgets. Everything worked well, but I found the GPS frustrating and ended up using my phone’s navigation app. I also learned about the major blind spot on the driver’s side. The Veloster’s three-door concept is clever, but the large C-pillar made each lane change feel like a game of Russian Roulette.
Rounding the corner from the exit bridge, I arrived at Sauvie Island. After a few swooping curves, a straightaway was up next. Rolling onto the throttle, I prepared for the turbo to kick in and bolt me into that “hyperspeed” feeling. It didn’t really happen like that.
I could hear the turbo through the open windows, but that feeling of “Watch out world, I’m driving a sports car,” never happened. But the car did speed up quickly, and I was soon cruising easily through the curves of the island.
After spending a whole weekend driving the Veloster, I concluded that it is a confused car. Hyundai wanted to create an affordable sports car to compete with the likes of the Volkswagen GTI. The Veloster has all the amenities one would expect, and it offers a smooth ride and sporty looks, but it doesn’t really offer a driving experience with “thrills.”
The reason I liked the Hyundai Elantra GT from a few weeks ago was that it was a very simple car that wasn’t trying to prove itself to anyone. It was a weird moment when I realized I preferred an “honest” driver over a sports car.