Note: The following story was excerpted from the December 2020 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine. The Veloster N continues unchanged for the 2022 model year, but other Veloster trim levels have been dropped.
In a market that’s more and more dominated by small sport utilities, enthusiasts can still find some reasonably practical hot hatchbacks. One of the raciest of the latest crop is the Hyundai Veloster N. It’s the first American-market model from Hyundai’s new high-performance N brand, which sounds like fertile ground for future collectibility.
2019-2021 Hyundai Veloster N
The second-generation Hyundai Veloster went on sale in America as a 2019 model. Like the original, it was an unusual three-door hatchback. The driver’s side had a single door, while the passenger side was fitted with traditional forward-hinged front and rear doors. The main benefit of the third door was making the rear seat more accessible to passengers, provided they entered from the right side of the vehicle.
Veloster styling was expressive with dramatically sculpted bodysides and a fairly low rear roofline. According to our office mates at Consumer Guide, the new car is more practical than the original, and notably there is now sufficient headroom in the back seat for six-foot-tall individuals.
N exterior appearance was suitably racy and accented with red trim. There was a N-specific front fascia incorporating brake-cooling ducts, bodyside skirts, and rear bumper cover/diffuser. Perched above the hatch was a large rear wing. American-market Veloster Ns came in a choice of four colors: Ultra Black, Chalk White, Racing Red, or Performance Blue.
Lesser Velosters ran a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 hp or a turbocharged 1.6 rated at 201. Veloster N packed a tastier 250-horse turbocharged-and-intercooled 2.0-liter four, but an optional Performance Package raised output to 275 ponies. Both engines were rated at 260 pound-feet of torque, but the twist was available over a wider RPM range with the Performance Package. Each mated to a mandatory six-speed manual transmission that sent the power through the car’s front wheels.
The Veloster N also received model-specific suspension tuning and an electronically controlled torque-vectoring limited-slip differential. The cheekily named “N Grin Control System” allowed the driver to customize an array of vehicle characteristics including throttle response, exhaust note, damping, steering feel, and differential tuning. Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires on 18-inch wheels were standard. Performance Package cars wore lightweight rims with 235/35R19 Pirelli P-Zero summer-only gumballs.
Interior features included front sport seats, and a N-Design shifter, sill plates, and steering wheel. Base price in 2019 was $26,900; the optional Performance Package added $2100. The 2020 Veloster N was virtually identical.
The 2021 Veloster N receives several upgrades, including the Performance Package as standard equipment. The biggest news is a newly available eight-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters and launch control. Also new are lightweight front sport seats with illuminated N logos, an eight-inch navigation system, and later in the year there will be a new shade of white exterior paint. Several driver-assistance features are now standard as well. They include forward-collision-avoidance assist, lane-following assist, lane-keeping assist, driver-attention warning, blind-spot collision-avoidance warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. Pricing for the 2021 N checked in at $34,755 to start.
- Invigorating performance and reasonable hot-hatch utility
- Countless ways to personalize the driving experience
- Three-door body more practical than a traditional coupe, but there are compromises that wouldn’t be there in a four door
- Veloster N collectibility completely unknown
It’s tough to beat a good hot hatch’s combination of fun-to-drive playfulness, day-to-day practicality, and relative purchase and operational economy. As with most future collectibles, we’d enjoy a Veloster N fully and take any down-the-road upside as a pleasant surprise.