2020 Hyundai Veloster N – Track Tested

by Michael Taylor (@trackworthy),

Hyundai made a big splash with the launch of their N version of the Veloster at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The first ever Veloster N took a big bold stab at the competitive hot hatch segment which includes the perennial favorite Volkswagen Golf GTI, the aggressively styled Honda Civic Type R and the enthusiastic Mini John Cooper Works GP.

Motivating the three-and-a-half door Veloster N hatchback is a 1,998cc turbocharged direct injection inline 4 cylinder engine with 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the two front P235/35R19 Pirelli summer-performance tires via a 6-speed manual transmission with downshift rev-matching. An all-new N 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission (N DCT) is available for the 2021 model year.

List price for the 2021 Veloster N is $37,700 CAD for the 6-speed manual and $39,399 when equipped with the 8-speed N DCT. Our car glowed in its Ignite Flame red/orange pearl paint which is a $200 option. Our favorite exterior colour is Performance Blue, which is also a $200 option.

On the interior, we really liked the N seats. They are very comfortable, supportive and look great, especially with the Performance Blue accents that run throughout the interior. And the Performance Blue seatbelts are a nice added touch. Yes, some elements of the interior are a little bit plasticky looking for a forty-thousand dollar car, but that doesn’t really detract from what is otherwise a very pleasant interior. We really like the fit and feel of the N specific steering wheel and manual transmission shift knob. Both look and feel great.

Is It TrackWorthy?
We think that the answer to this question depends on the track that you take this car to. On an autocross and shorter race track that don’t focus on top speed, this little pocket rocket is well suited and will provide the driver with an energetic experience. With its front wheel drive and manual transmission layout, there is lots of driver involvement, which is fun and can generate satisfying results. On longer race tracks that require more horsepower and higher speeds, we think this little 275 hp hot hatch might start to run out of steam.

First up for us was tight and technical autocross course that really allowed the Veloster N to enthusiastically jump right in and tackle whatever we threw at it. This car really transforms when you push the N button, much more so than on some of its competitors when you engage their performance button. If you hit the excitement button, you want excitement, and N mode delivers. The driver adjustable active exhaust emits all of the right sounds from its dual chrome tips.

The Veloster N is equipped with Electronically Controlled Suspension, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Electronic Stability Control system (ESC) with Traction Control System (TCS) and Electronic Limited Slip Differential (E-LSD).

Next up for us was the 2.8 km (1.7 mile) Driver Development Track at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park near Bowmanville, Ontario. This relatively short and tight track was a good fit for the Veloster N. The sticky Pirelli summer-performance tires do a good job of upping the Veloster N’s acceleration, braking and cornering capabilities. The front tires are asked to work hard with its front-wheel drive configuration, but its driving characteristics feel as though its all-wheel drive. The engineers have done a great job of dialing out the typical front wheel drive torque steer sensation.

The 6-speed manual’s downshift rev-matching feature works like a charm, on the road and the track. For those of us who grew up heal and toeing our own downshifts, it’s hard to not want to perform that function ourselves, but the computer can execute downshift rev-matching to perfection, downshift after downshift. It really does work well. We’re sure the dual-clutch 8-speed transmission will result in quicker lap times, but this manual transmission is very entertaining and rewarding.

We really got a kick out of the shift light indicator located at the top of the instrument cluster. It is a common site in Formula 1 and other race cars but not often seen in sub-$40,000 hot hatches. They can be turned off if they become too annoying, but we really enjoyed watching them light up, upshift after upshift.

Overall, this car really feels planted and handles very well on the race track. It provides the driver with a lot of confidence, which increases lap after lap. For a first year performance model, it has a surprisingly grownup and mature feeling about it. It doesn’t feel like a first-generation performance package.

It is shocking how quiet the Veloster N becomes when you select the Eco drive mode. Out on the highway near the race track, we cycled through the driving modes and the difference between N and Eco is like night and day. In Eco mode you’d swear you were driving a hybrid, and in N mode you feel like the class clown comes to life with all of its snap, crackle and popping emanating from the exhaust. N mode really transforms this car, in a very good way. Drive Mode Selections include Normal, Eco, Sport, N and Custom.

If you are in the market for a hot hatch, a test drive of the Hyundai Veloster N is definitely in order. It’s not for everyone, but for enthusiasts looking in this price range, it definitely warrants a test drive. It is really quite impressive, tons of fun to drive and very capable on this shorter race track. It offers a big bang, literally, for the buck.

 

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