Is Veloster a Sporty Family Car or Not? Hopefully We’ll Know For Sure By ’16

What changes will make it different?

It seems that just about everything will change to some degree when the next generation of this compact finally hits the showrooms—apart from its unique door configuration, that is. The model-year 2015 tends to fall between two stools depending on which model you choose. But Hyundai seems to have gotten the message, and the new car will have more in common with the current turbo models than the somewhat lackluster non-turbos that can be something of a disappointment.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

Unless you’re shopping for a bargain rather than a car that is the best it can be, we suggest waiting for model-year ’16. Don’t get us wrong—the model-year 2015 car is very good, especially the turbo. But everything we are seeing and hearing points to the next model being an improvement in just about every way. When you also consider that few mass-market manufacturers raise their prices to any great degree these days, even with all-new models, it seems like a bit of a no-brainer to hang on for model-year ’16.

Should I buy a 2015 instead?

If you’re in dire need of a new car and can’t wait another year, it’s a solid choice that is unlikely to disappoint. There’s also the possibility that you’ll be able to take advantage of some generous discounts as more is revealed about the model-year ’16 offering and the release date approaches.

Will the styling be different?

While Hyundai has been unveiling a few models recently that are less than revolutionary compared to the ones they are replacing, there’s every reason to believe that the next Veloster will be a true return to form for the automaker. The spy shots we’ve seen so far reveal a serious modernization of the vehicle’s look. As well as a new body, the front and rear lights are likely to follow the current trend of being made smaller with plenty of LEDs. It’s also a good bet that the front grille will bear a strong resemblance to the new corporate look we see on models such as the model-year 2015 Genesis.

Any mechanical changes?

With the styling undergoing such an overhaul, it would be a shame if new stuff didn’t happen under the hood as well. There’s a distinct possibility that even if the engines are updated carryovers of the model-year ’15 powerplants, they will all be turbo-powered. Even cars that receive only mild restyling often have plenty of mechanical upgrades these days, and the Veloster is unlikely to be an exception to this rule. Better steering, cornering and overall handling should all be part of the package, along with—we hope—an increase in power and performance.

Will fuel economy improve?

Model-year 2016 may be more performance-focused, but that doesn’t mean Hyundai won’t deliver better gas mileage. Look for all sorts of modern engineering and technology to provide at least some improvement in this department. These days, it simply isn’t an all-new car if it’s not more economical than its predecessor.

Will it have new features?

The automaker isn’t shy about putting in high-end features that you wouldn’t expect, so we think there will be significant upgrading. You can count on seeing the latest in infotainment and connectivity offered throughout the entire range, with even entry-level models coming with an eight-inch touchscreen to control many of the onboard systems. Companies such as Hyundai are currently working on autonomous vehicle technology, and while driverless cars may still be a thing of the distant future, you can expect some new safety systems that stem from this research and development.

How will 2016 prices be different?

Manufacturers can’t keep bringing out all-new models with only modest price increases forever, but that time hasn’t yet arrived for Hyundai. It’s unlikely the price tag will go up by more than a few hundred bucks.

What Is the Expected Release Date?

The pre-production work is well underway, so the model-year ’16 Veloster should be available around the summer of 2015.

Best competitors

Scion tC, Volkswagen Beetle, Mini Cooper Clubman, Honda CR-Z

What change would make it better?

Our biggest wish is that Hyundai would concentrate on producing a real driver’s car with more power and better handling and forget about trying to make the Veloster appealing as a sporty compromise for a small family. The rear seats in the model-year ’15 version are only suitable for small children, so the next offering needs to be a 2+2 that is all about the way the car performs, drives and handles. This vehicle is never going to be a competitor of the Scion FR-S, but it could find a niche as a more practical alternative.

Quick hit

The Veloster’s unique door arrangement may not be for everybody, but if the rest of the car is good enough, who cares? This vehicle already stands out from the crowd, delivering the fuel economy of a small sedan but from a much sportier perspective. With a bold new style, model-year 2016 could really propel this nameplate forward.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]