As a result of right here within the Eifel mountains it looks like a everlasting get together for gearheads. The parking zone the place you entry the Nordschleife for the legendary “vacationer laps” is buzzing with automobiles from each nook of Europe. The air across the monitor is thick with barbecue smoke, scorching brakes and adrenaline, excessive-efficiency engines echoing throughout the rolling panorama lengthy after the monitor has shut down for the day. It is a heady environment, and precisely the spirit Hyundai needs to seize for an American viewers within the Veloster N.
The person tasked with doing that’s Albert Biermann, recruited from an equal job at BMW M for his instinctive understanding of what fanatic drivers need. Proof of that’s evident within the variety of M2s and M3s you see pounding the Nordschleife vacationer periods. Hyundai is clearly hoping he can channel that experience into its personal merchandise. He makes the best noises concerning the model’s house being in Korea, however on a sunny night within the German countryside with a pilsner in hand, it is clear that is his consolation zone and N most undoubtedly stands for Nürburgring.
Subsequent day we’re out on the monitor itself, the exit from the pit lane so abrupt I’ve barely chosen second gear earlier than filtering out onto the Nordschleife. I’ve bagged first place within the practice of automobiles behind an teacher in an i30 N, the Elantra GT relative that launched the efficiency model to the European market final yr to essential acclaim. And I am decided to make him work for his lunch.
They could have a special look and distinct chassis tuning, however the i30 N and its Veloster cousin are just about interchangeable when it comes to hardware. Like all N merchandise, the Veloster N can be guide-transmission just for the close to future, partly out of deference to lovers and partly out of lack of an acceptable in-home gearbox. They usually have the identical 2.zero-liter twin-scroll turbocharged engine driving the entrance wheels with 275 horsepower and 260 pound-ft of torque. That is an enormous leap from the 201-hp, 1.6-liter Veloster Turbo Final and places it sq. between the Golf GTI and all-wheel-drive R, which is not any accident given Volkswagen’s efficiency merchandise are the benchmark Hyundai must exceed.
And the Veloster N is provided to do exactly that. The seems are considerably beefed up whereas beneath the pores and skin lurks vital physique reinforcement and a rear strut brace to offer a strong foundation for the steering and suspension. There shall be a base mannequin with 250 hp and brake-activated torque vectoring, however this Efficiency Package deal model positive aspects 19-inch wheels, greater brakes, Pirelli P Zero tires, a decrease ultimate drive, and a totally lively, electronically managed “Nook Carving” differential comparable in spirit (if not design) to the VAQ system on SE and Autobahn degree Golf GTIs. In contrast to the passive mechanical restricted-slip differentials utilized by Honda and others, this implies Hyundai can tune the car’s response in nook entry and exit, decreasing understeer on each flip-in and beneath energy.
A fast observe about nomenclature: “Efficiency Package deal” is what Hyundai calls these upgrades in Europe on the i30 N. It was used informally by Hyundai PR reps in dialog with us, however the package deal identify (however not content material) might change for the U.S. market.
That is certainly one of seven parameters you’ll be able to tune in your personal custom-made mode to enrich the devoted N setting. There are three on-street modes too — Regular, Sport and Eco — the intention being you possibly can toggle immediately between these in addition to the N and N Customized modes by way of scorching keys on the steering wheel spokes. Straight out of the BMW M playbook and a extra apparent instance of Biermann’s affect, gimmicky “N Grin Management System” branding undersells the importance of such know-how at this price level.
By way of the touchscreen I pre-programmed a extra nuanced N Customized mode, however for this opening lap I’m going full N, the car tensing the moment my thumb connects with the checkered flag image. Throttle mapping, steering weight, adaptive dampers, exhaust sound, rev matching, stability management and the lively differential all get devoted calibrations, a depraved crackle from the tailpipes saying we’re prepared for enterprise.
It is fascinating that Hyundai and Biermann are extra curious about speaking about emotive responses than they’re stats and figures — “BPM not RPM” as they’ve it within the promo materials. Within the excessive-strain setting of a Nordschleife scorching lap that interprets into confidence-inspiring management responses contrived by people who clearly perceive what makes quick automobiles enjoyable.
The steering is linear and predictable, pedal placement is ideal, and response to them precisely as you’d need, to the extent I change the rev-matching perform off and choose to do my very own fancy footwork. For a turbo engine the throttle response is superb and extra progressive than the binary 2.zero-liter equal within the Golf. It is also obtained a extra expansive supply, rewarding revs moderately than simply dumping all of the torque in your lap from tickover. In fact, the Hyundai engine does not really feel fairly as muscular as a result, however the reward is a broader energy band by which to play and extra pure throttle response. This can be a car constructed for carrying velocity spherical corners, not merely level and squirt bursts of acceleration between them. Which is as applicable to the Nürburgring as it’s a Californian canyon street.
The stick shift has a fast, mild throw Golf drivers will discover acquainted — no mere coincidence — and the Veloster feels immediately potent, alert and agile. It is a lot sharper on the entrance axle than something VW provides too, there being not one of the dumbed-down flip-in you get within the GTI and a extra impartial line via corners that makes exploitation of raise-off adjustability and different scorching hatch tips far more accessible. Beneath energy the lively differential truly pulls the nostril into the nook, a sensation that originally feels counter-intuitive however shortly encourages earlier and extra enthusiastic use of the throttle. That it feels nearer in spirit to automobiles just like the Civic Sort R or Focus RS — arguably a category above when it comes to efficiency and price – is a praise certainly.
Frankly, the setup is fairly punchy and by the second lap I change to my N Customized mode with the dampers dialled again from Sport Plus to Sport and the mid-weight steering help. Instantly the Veloster feels much less jittery and flows with the monitor relatively than pinging about this manner and that. Evaluating notes with our teacher, he tells me that is his favored configuration and provides that Sport Plus is admittedly solely appropriate for clean, trendy circuits just like the neighbouring GP monitor.
This performs out on a quick-paced road loop taking in twisting nation roads and a piece of derestricted Autobahn. Right here the Veloster N pulls a simple one hundred sixty mph-plus and stays locked on line doing so, making me think the WRC-impressed rear wing and the varied different aero adornments are there for extra than simply present.
With slightly extra head area there’s an opportunity to absorb the environment, the signature Efficiency Blue trim parts lifting an in any other case useful cabin that will get the job executed however cannot match European rivals for tactile high quality. It is ergonomically sound, and the interface with the standard eight.zero-inch touchscreen is obvious and intuitive, underlining the purpose that the Veloster N can hack it for the on a regular basis in addition to playtime. The uneven design with the only, curb-aspect rear door stays quirky however there’s nearly sufficient area again there for a six-foot passenger behind a driver of comparable size — and the Veloster is extra sensible and usable on this rating than, say, a Toyota 270.
Briefly the Veloster N nails the temporary. Hyundai has examined sporty-driving waters prior to now, however the truth that Hyundai’s N Division has finished a critical efficiency variant on its first attempt is spectacular and testomony to the expertise it has employed to realize its objectives. Can we speak about N in the identical breath as GTI, R, Sort R, ST, RS and the remaining? Hyundai has invested the exhausting hours into supporting buyer and manufacturing unit WRC rally groups and with the i30 TCR touring car on the monitor, the reward being credibility that an N-badged street product can commerce off from the get-go. Whether or not this Euro-centric racing cred interprets to an American viewers stays to be seen, however the Veloster N at the very least has the dynamics proper.
The Veloster N guarantees to be keenly priced too, the ultimate determine to be confirmed however, in line with a spokesperson, someplace within the area of the $24,995 of a Civic Si Coupe and $27,310 beginning price for the Golf GTI range. Be happy to take a position that the Efficiency Package deal car will probably be nearer to $30,000 and in parity with the comparable Golf GTI Autobahn, albeit with a big energy benefit.
Will fanatics reply? Biermann pulls on his cigarette and permits himself a smile. “Earlier than once I got here to the Nürburgring the parking zone can be full of scorching hatches from Volkswagen, Renault and the others. And now I’m seeing fanatics with Hyundais as an alternative — that is the place we have to be.” That, in a nutshell, is what N stands for. And what the Veloster delivers on, straight out of the field.
– 2019 Hyundai Veloster N First Drive Review –
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