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The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N is a new entry in the ot hatchsegment.
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The interior of the Hyundai Veloster N has fabric seat covers and mid-grade plastic parts

In the summer of 1985, I bought a black Honda CRX Si, a quirky little 109-horsepower hatchback that handled like a dream and looked like a maniacal Easter egg. The Si fuel-injected version of the Civic-based CRX came with a power sunroof, 13-inch wheels and a duck-tail spoiler.

Riding around East Ridge, I thought I was the dude.

Fast-forward 34 years and the Ultra Black Hyundai Veloster N in my driveway last week brought back fond memories of my little Honda. For Generation Z the Veloster has the same attention-grabbing personality as the CRX.


View other Test Drive stories by Mark Kennedy



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The Veloster line has a new design for 2019, and the N version is part of Hyundai's performance sub-brand. Think BMW's M-series. In fact the Korean car-maker lured away some of BMW's top talent to work on its N cars.

The Veloster is a four-seat, four-cylinder hot hatchback with a curious configuration: it has two doors on the passenger side and one door on the driver's side. So, if you have two back-seat passengers they will both be entering and exiting stage right. Hmm.

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The 2019 Hyundai Veloster has two doors on the passenger side and one door on the driver's side.

The Veloster has always had a flashy exterior design, but until now it has never been a true hot-hatch from a performance standpoint. Cars like the Volkswagen GTI and Honda Civic R have that market practically cornered. Now, the Veloster N can now go head-to-head with the best pocket rockets on the road.

Hyundai automobiles are available locally at Long Hyundai at 6035 International Drive. Late this week the dealership had two 2019 Velosters in digital inventory.

 

WHAT IS IT?

The 2019 Veloster N is a performance version of Hyundai's four-passenger hatchback. It features a 2.0-liter, 275 horsepower turbocharged engine and front wheel drive. It is the first N-car from Hyundai to make it to North America. It is only available currently with a six-speed manual transmission, but an eight-speed automatic transmission is in the pipeline.

 

WHAT DOES IT COST?

The Veloster N is a solid value, costing thousands less than the competition. Our tester, provided for a week by the manufacturer, is a top-of-the-line model that has an asking price below $30,000 — $29,885 to be exact. That includes a $2,100 performance package which bundles a horsepower boost, Pirelli P Zero summer tires, a limited-slip differential and upgraded brakes.

 

WHAT WE LIKED

Some of the "likes" in our logbook included the honeycomb grill, black rocker-panel stripes, an eight-speaker Infinity sound system, a turbo-charged engine and the well-bolstered seats.

 

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

The summer tires are unsuitable for ice and snow, the hatch release is in the rear wiper assembly (odd), and the molded cupholders in the middle of the back seat preclude squeezing in a fifth passenger. To cut costs, there is also no sunroof and no rear seat AC vents.

 

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The Hyundai Veloster N with the performance package scoots from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds. The limited-slip differential — part of the performance package — improves cornering and handling, especially on our twisting mountain roads. The Pirelli summer tires provide tenacious grip for quick, off-the-mark launches. The car magazines have clocked a top speed of over 160 mph.

 

BOTTOM LINE

Dollar for dollar, the 2019 Veloster N is a screaming bargain. It's also a head turner and conversation starter for drivers who enjoy being the center of attention.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST.

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