Friday, 6 July 2012

Fire up the... Hyundai Veloster

LIKE a silly hat on Ladies Day at the Grand National, coupes are all about style. Even if it's useless at just about everything else, if they've got the looks then we'll buy them.

Hyundai knows this all too well, having had a string of hits with various models called simply the Coupe, which took ordinary enough ingredients and then garnished them with gorgeous sports car styling. It was a Ferrari 456GT for a fraction of the price. So how does the Veloster, the company's new coupe contender, stack up?

Very well indeed if what you're looking for are extra doors, because the new arrival uses the same trick the MINI Clubman pulled off a couple of years ago by offering you an extra opening on the left-hand side, making it usefully easier to get into than most of its rivals.

It's also, considering it's a coupe and therefore something you'd forgive for being a tad cramped, roomier in the rear and bigger of boot than you'd rightfully expect it to be.

Yet as a coupe connoisseur, you'll be buying the Veloster for the looks, and while I know style's a very subjective thing it's where I reckon the Veloster starts to fall apart. It's striking enough at the front and its proportions hide that third door beautifully but at the back it's got all the flow and grace of a crumpled piece of paper.

It might be practical but it just doesn't quite gel, and nor does the way it drive. It's an easy and refined experience not a million miles from its i30 hatchback sibling, but for something setting its stall out as being sporty the feel and handling are nothing special. There's nothing wrong with it, but nor is it anything to thrill or excite you.

The Veloster's the one to go for if you need your coupe to come with a pinch of practicality but if you don't I'd go for either Volkswagen's Scirocco, which is much more fun to drive, Honda's CR-Z, which is cramped but an eco-friendly hoot to drive, or Peugeot's RCZ, which wins in the style stakes.

Hyundai's latest coupe contender is by no means a bad car, but it isn't an exceptional one either.

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