Cars and Trucks

Our Hyundai Veloster N Enters the Final Stretch

30,000-Mile Update

It’s been a long nine months since we last checked on our Veloster N, back when the prospect of working from home felt like a novelty. Yet much remains the same with our hot Hyundai hatchback. It’s still slightly compromised yet charmingly obnoxious, and its juvenile road manners helped to brighten our mood as the days blurred together during pandemic life. We may not get out as much as we used to, but rowing through the gears of our Performance Blue Hyundai is a great form of escapism. With our car’s 40,000-mile finish line now in sight, we’re thankful we still have the Veloster N around—even if it’s not perfect.

Given the N’s strength as a performance bargain, we’re willing to accept its lack of certain niceties. “Manual dimming rearview mirror. Manual parking brake. Active exhaust. Priorities I can get behind,” director of vehicle testing Dave VanderWerp wrote in the Veloster’s logbook. However, the hard, cheap-looking plastics that line our Hyundai’s interior have grown even less inspiring over time. And as the Veloster N enters its third year in production, we can’t help but feel a twinge of early adoption regret: 2021 model-year Veloster Ns gain new, thickly bolstered sport seats that are missing on our 2019 example.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

The N’s latest update also brings an optional eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. We haven’t driven that setup yet. But we’d likely pass on it for the standard six-speed manual, even if its shifter is balkier in its engagements than that of our Honda Civic Type R—the recent departure of which has left a void in our automotive pleasure center that the Veloster N can’t seem to fill. While some commenters noted that there’s much that they like about driving the Veloster N, it simply doesn’t feel as special—nor as composed nor as comfortable nor as practical—as the hot Honda.

And yet, “I’d buy the Veloster N over the Civic Type R for its exhaust alone,” proclaimed staff editor Connor Hoffman. We’ve also come to appreciate the benefits of the Veloster’s asymmetric three-door layout. Although its small 20-cubic-foot cargo hold is not the easiest to access, having two passenger-side doors means no tumbling moves are required to access the compact Hyundai’s rear seat. For the driver, the single, long door (and consequently distant B-pillar) reduces the left-side blind spot.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

The only misfortune we’ve experienced lately was related to the Veloster N’s climate control system, specifically the clogging of its evaporation tube with road debris at around 25,000 miles. This caused water to build up in the system’s plumbing, which could be heard sloshing around and ultimately began to drip into the passenger-side footwell. Although it required a separate trip to the dealer to diagnose, the fix was simple. Having seen similar issues with other Hyundai models, the service techs unclogged and drained the line under warranty and all has been well since. Other dealer visits have included two scheduled stops at 24,000 and 30,000 miles for routine maintenance, which set us back $238 and $181, respectively. Sadly, the approach of another Michigan winter also means that we’ll have to cope with the reduced dry-weather grip of our car’s Continental VikingContact 7 winter tires for the next few months.

The Veloster N’s diminutive size and simple accommodations continue to be a factor in its mileage accumulation, but it did recently make the journey from Ann Arbor to Virginia International Raceway and back in support of our annual Lightning Lap event. Otherwise, its travel has mostly been local, save for a trek to Chicago and a couple of jaunts to the west coast of Michigan. The most exciting of those trips was for a track day at Grattan Raceway. For many staffers, it was their first time hot lapping the Hyundai.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

While all drivers seemed to agree that it doesn’t exhibit the fluidity and unflappable poise of the Type R when pushed to its handling limit, the Veloster N still impressed with its tenacious grip, its tight, direct steering, and its strong midrange pullout of Grattan’s tight corners. With its dampers in their firmest Sport Plus mode—a setting normally too harsh for comfortable use on the street—its body and chassis control were excellent. And listening to the shotgun blasts from its exhaust as it ripped from corner to corner helped remind us of why we’ll always have a soft spot for hot hatchbacks. Despite the Veloster N’s handful of rough edges, it’s simply good, attainable fun.

Months in Fleet: 19 months Current Mileage: 31,409 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Observed Fuel Range: 310 miles
Service $831 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $547

View Specs

20,000-Mile Update

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Staff editor Eric Stafford underscored one of the Hyundai Veloster N’s greatest charms when he scribbled in our long-termer’s logbook, “The Veloster N sounds like the Honda Civic Type R looks.” That’s not to say that Hyundai’s N-badged hot hatchback is a wallflower. But it never lets you forget how shouty it can be. We’re beginning to love it.

“There’s nothing else on the market that sounds this good and costs under $30K,” Stafford continued, possibly forgetting that a V-6 Camaro with the screaming two-mode exhaust can be had for $29,085. This was echoed by Buyer’s Guide deputy editor Rich Ceppos: “In N-mode, this car has one of the sexiest exhaust notes of any four-cylinder on the planet.”

Michael SimariCar and Driver

A strong fun-per-mile factor, however, doesn’t make the diminutive Veloster N the most practical option for people and their things. Our test car didn’t receive much long-haul love even before shelter-in-place orders became a thing. Our Veloster N has been with us for 10 months and it’s only now approaching the halfway point of its 40,000-mile test. Aside from a trek to Connecticut and back, it hasn’t strayed far from our southeastern Michigan base. Its average fuel economy remains a modest 24 mpg.

That dearth of travel is largely a result of the Veloster N sharing garage space with the many larger and better-equipped SUVs in our long-term fleet. But stepping out of those painfully practical vehicles and into this little Hyundai is rejuvenating. Despite the reduced grip from the OE-size Continental VikingContact 7 winter tires we bought from Tire Rack, the Veloster N’s logbook continues to fill with praise for its adolescent demeanor and enjoyability as a driver’s car.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Beyond its rowdy exhaust, drivers continue to be impressed by the breadth of adjustability from the Hyundai’s numerous drive-mode settings. With the toggle of one of its steering-wheel-mounted buttons or a tap of the touchscreen, ride quality can be adjusted from tolerable to bucking-bronco firm. The bite from the electronically controlled limited-slip differential can be tailored in three increments. And even the pops and crackles exiting the tailpipes can be toned down to a dull blat.

“Love it,” proclaimed one commenter before admitting that the Veloster N’s rear window is awfully tiny and that its rear wiper is even tinier. Another driver both seconded those shortcomings and needled the Hyundai for its drab, plasticky interior. But many editors remain willing to give the Veloster N a pass on its cabin finish in light of its performance—and its $29,920 as-tested price.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Aside from replacing a damaged winter tire ($259) and having the dealer perform a software update under warranty, we’ve only had scheduled service visits for oil and filter changes and inspections at 12,000 and 18,000 miles. One stop cost $124, while the other came to $173 due to the replacement of the Veloster’s cabin air filter. We didn’t ask, but we’re sure the service techs heard us coming.

Months in Fleet: 10 months Current Mileage: 18,910 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Observed Fuel Range: 310 miles
Service: $412 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $547

10,000-Mile Update

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Life with our long-term 40,000-mile Hyundai Veloster N is shaping up to be a highly enjoyable affair somewhat tempered by the day-to-day concessions that the car’s spunky character demands. Good as it is, our characterful Korean sport compact is quick to remind us that it is not perfect.

As the Hyundai N performance sub-brand’s first effort in the United States, the Veloster N remains a bouncing bundle of front-wheel-drive joy that goads us to dice through traffic and search out more entertaining routes on our daily slogs. On the road, its Performance Blue paint is as in your face as its popping and burbling active exhaust. Several drivers already have admitted to being taken by the Veloster N’s brazenly juvenile demeanor to the point of reverting back to more adolescent driving behavior themselves. In many ways, Hyundai’s hot hatch is reminiscent of the wonderfully playful (and discontinued-for-2020) Ford Fiesta ST, albeit one with about 50 percent more horsepower.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Like that Ford, however, the Veloster is a tiny thing. While its rather low center console makes some drivers feel less boxed in than they are in the cockpit of our long-term Honda Civic Type R, the three-door Hyundai is downright skimpy on rear passenger space, and its 20-cubic-foot cargo area is accessed via a tall and tight aperture. Not that we expect many Veloster N buyers to be among the country-club set, but the golfers among us have had to lay flat part of its 60/40 split-folding rear seat to stow a single golf bag.

This Hyundai also will try to buck its passengers clear out of their seats when traversing rough roads with its adaptive three-mode dampers set to anything but their softest Normal setting. Fortunately, the ease with which one can adjust the N’s many chassis and drivetrain modes via the steering-wheel buttons and the central touchscreen has been a boon to its livability. You cannot fully deactivate this car’s feistiness, but you can effectively tone it down enough to make it tolerable for early morning commutes.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Our long-termer’s first scheduled service visit at roughly 6800 miles—a basic oil change, inspection, and tire rotation that cost us $115—was uneventful. Our out-of-pocket costs have increased further due to some mishaps, but the $50 we spent to patch a second windshield chip is hardly the car’s fault. Nor was the chunk taken out of the sidewall of the right-rear tire from a driver hitting a pothole. Replacing that Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tire set us back $188 via, but the Veloster N is not having nearly as many rubber-related issues as our Civic Type R.

While the Hyundai’s compact proportions also have limited its demand for long-haul journeys outside of Michigan, our long-termer has traversed the Mitten state enough recently to bump its average fuel economy up to 24 mpg, or 1 mpg shy of its EPA combined estimate. The Midwest’s annual plummeting of temperatures will bring further compromise to the Veloster N as we fit it with winter tires so that it can safely navigate the inevitable snow and slop that soon will blanket our local thoroughfares. Fortunately, the Veloster still features that simplest of controls that works so well at bringing out the child in us when driving in slippery conditions: a manual parking brake lever.

Months in Fleet: 6 months Current Mileage: 10,452 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Observed Fuel Range: 310 miles
Service: $115 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $288

Initial Test Results

Austin IrwinCar and Driver

It’s become apparent over the initial 4079 miles we’ve put on our long-term Hyundai Veloster N that this hot hatch is a delightfully juvenile thing. From its striking Performance Blue paint to its raucous exhaust note to its funky asymmetric doors, the Veloster N is both overtly quirky and ever-playful to operate. Parked among the often soberly sensible vehicles, performance-oriented or otherwise, that grace our parking lot, it may as well have a fidget spinner on its hood. Some of us extend similar thoughts to our bewinged Honda Civic Type R long-termer. Yet, even the fast and furious Honda, the torchbearer of front-wheel-drive performance cars that it is, can feel as if it takes itself and its almost unflappable driving character a bit too seriously.

The Hyundai is more about bringing fun to the proceedings, even if the results aren’t quite as impressive. While not the quickest example we’ve tested, this latest Veloster N, once past its 600-mile break-in period, did scurry to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds at 100 mph—0.3 second slower than a previous test car in both measurements and 2 mph slower in the quarter-mile. Those times are also 0.4 and 0.6 second (and 7 mph) behind our Type R’s initial test results. Similarly, the Honda was not the quickest of its kind that we’ve evaluated. But it’s worth noting that our two particular examples are dead even in a rolling start from 5 to 60 mph (6.1 seconds), and the Veloster was the speedier of the two in passing-maneuver tests, from both 30 to 50 mph and from 50 to 70 mph.

Austin IrwinCar and Driver

That storyline continues to the Veloster N’s other (still-solid) test results—0.97 g of grip around the skidpad, a 158-foot stop from 70 mph, and a 23-mpg fuel-economy average—although each of these figures trails the Type R’s. But factor in the Hyundai’s more than $6000 price advantage and that it has 31 fewer horsepower to work with, and its performance value begins to look rosier.

It hasn’t been all fun and games thus far with the Veloster, though. Patching a stone chip before it likely would have spread across the entire windshield cost $50. And complaints about the cargo-carrying concessions imposed by both the car’s three-door layout and tall rear hatch opening have already cropped up in its logbook. Other drivers have taken issue with the Hyundai’s firm and choppy ride when its adaptive dampers are not left in their default softest setting, as well as with the rather hefty effort needed to twirl the electrically assisted steering wheel. “I just wish there was more fluidity to the controls,” noted online editor Joey Capparella. “The Veloster just is too heavy-handed when you’re not caning it.” Fortunately, the Veloster N is quite enjoyable to flog, and we have 35K miles and change to determine if those gripes are deal breakers or just part of the Hyundai’s quirky charm.

Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 4079 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 23 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Observed Fuel Range: 300 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $50



2019 Hyundai Veloster N


front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 3-door hatchback


$29,920 (base price: $27,820)


turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

122 in3, 1998 cm3

275 hp @ 6000 rpm

260 lb-ft @ 1450 rpm


6-speed manual

Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.6-in vented disc/12.4-in vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4, 235/35R-19 91Y HN

Wheelbase: 104.3 in

Length: 167.9 in

Width: 71.3 in

Height: 54.9 in

Passenger volume: 91 ft3

Cargo volume: 20 ft3

Curb weight: 3090 lb

60 mph: 5.4 sec
100 mph: 14.1 sec
130 mph: 29.7 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.1 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 7.4 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 6.5 sec
1/4-mile: 14.1 sec @ 100 mph
Top speed (redline limited, mfr’s claim): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 158 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.97 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

Observed: 24 mpg
Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt


Combined/city/highway: 25/22/28 mpg


5 years/60,000 miles bumper to bumper

10 years/100,000 miles powertrain

7 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection

5 years/unlimited miles miles roadside assistance



Austin IrwinCar and Driver

As the Hyundai conglomerate’s first home-brewed high-performance vehicle to be sold in the United States, the 2019 Veloster N marks a major milestone in Korean carmaking. Sure, there are other sporty efforts under the manufacturer’s sprawling umbrella, including the Kia Stinger GT, the Genesis G70, and even the old Genesis coupe, but none is so deeply devoted to athleticism as the scrappy N-badged Veloster. As a solid first effort, it is a quick and capable blast for less than $30,000, and we’ve been dropping hints to Hyundai about a long-term test car since we first drove a prototype on Germany’s Nürburgring. That time has finally come.

Bathed in Performance Blue paint (red, white, and black also are available), the N division’s signature color, this Veloster N serves as both a welcome counterpoint to the growing ranks of SUVs that clutter our parking lot and a plucky sidekick to the 2019 Honda Civic Type R that also recently joined our long-term fleet. Indeed, our initial impressions reflect on the two in tandem—”It’s no Civic Type R, but it’ll do in a pinch,” reads the first comment in the Veloster’s logbook—and if you’re put off by the Honda’s higher asking price and wacky styling, the Hyundai is the next-closest thing.

Austin IrwinCar and Driver

A head-to-head comparison test has already established the Type R’s dominance over the Veloster N. We’ll soon verify our particular car’s capabilities at the test track, but in its brief time with us, the Hyundai has already proven quick to elicit accepting nods from enthusiasts. Even while driving it gently during the 600-mile break-in period, there’s an effervescent playfulness to the way the Veloster N goes down the road, thanks in part to its planted chassis, tight steering, and burbling exhaust note. While the Hyundai doesn’t ride as smoothly as does the unperturbable Honda and exhibits more torque steer, it offers no shortage of entertainment.

More Speed, Please

A base Veloster N starts at $27,820 and comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four good for 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission with front-wheel drive is the only drivetrain setup available. We have yet to experience this model without its optional $2100 Performance package, and we simply couldn’t pass up the extra 25 horses that it brings (for a total of 275), as well as larger brakes, 19-inch Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires (18s with Michelin Pilot Super Sport summers are standard), an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, and an active exhaust.

Austin IrwinCar and Driver

Controlling all of the go-fast goodies are preset Eco, Normal, Sport, and N drive modes. An easy-to-configure N Custom mode allows for mixing and matching of multiple settings for the engine’s throttle response, the standard adaptive dampers, the limited-slip diff, the selectable engine rev matching, the stability control, the steering weight, and the exhaust. So far, we’ve found that turning most of those dials up to 11 while taming the dampers and the exhaust is particularly effective at balancing the N’s performance for commutes around southeastern Michigan.

The Veloster’s asymmetrical three-door layout and compact proportions mean that we’ll always pick the more capacious Civic for hauling people and stuff. There’s 20 cubic feet of cargo space behind the Hyundai’s snug rear seats, but the hatchback’s aperture is small and has a rather tall, 31.5-inch lift-over height, a not unnoticeable 5.6 inches taller than the Type R’s. Aside from a few Performance Blue accents, including the seatbelts, the Veloster N’s plasticky interior is dark and drab, albeit comfy enough and studded with smart ergonomics. Hyundai’s standard 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system remains pleasantly intuitive to operate even if it doesn’t include navigation. Notable upgrades over lesser Velosters include nicely supportive front sport seats and LED shift lights in the instrument cluster. The more coddled among us have already noted their dissatisfaction with the Hyundai’s lack of heated seats at this price point, although the same can be said of the even more expensive Type R.

Austin IrwinCar and Driver

Having Honda’s hot rod in the fleet at the same time will put the Veloster N under heightened scrutiny over its remaining 39,685 miles. But as sport-compact yardsticks go, we could have chosen far worse than the Type R. That the Hyundai’s $6700 as-tested price advantage and less shouty design, not to mention its sheer fun factor, have already begun to earn it praise means that we’ll have lots to talk about.

Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 315 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 23 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Observed Fuel Range: 300 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0

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