If the term “hot hatch” sounds like a way to describe an unusually productive laying of eggs from your backyard chickens, you’re probably not among the Hyundai Veloster N’s target market.
In automotive jargon, a hot hatch is a high-performance version of a mass-produced hatchback car. It’s small, typically produced by an Asian or European brand, with a front engine and front-wheel drive, fast, fun, and fairly affordable.
The N version of the Hyundai Veloster is a perfect example of a hot hatch. Hyundai’s highest performance vehicle ever for the U.S. market, the Veloster N was introduced as a 2019 model and is unchanged for model year 2020.
There is just one Veloster N trim, outfitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. The engine produces 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, with an EPA rating of 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. Regular grade fuel is fine.
Pricing with destination charge included is $28,330. The only available option, a performance package, boosts horsepower to 275. The extra $2,100 for the performance package also buys 19-inch wheels, Pirelli P Zero summer tires, electronically controlled limited slip differential, variable exhaust system, and bigger brakes.
The Veloster N looks the performance part with its wild styling, low wide stance, large rear wing, sharp angles, and multiple vents. My test car, equipped with the performance package and attention-grabbing Performance Blue paint, heightened the image.
To comprehensively evaluate what the Veloster N is capable of performance-wise would require pushing it to its limits on the Nurburgring, which many professional drivers have done, with favorable impressions. That’s out of my league, but I did give the Veloster N a grueling workout on Snohomish County’s twisty backroads and along the I-5 corridor between Seattle and Portland, which, to be honest, is a more accurate representation of how most Veloster N buyers will use this car.
Veloster N’s ability to take tight turns flawlessly is not much of a surprise. That it can also careen down the notoriously jarring I-5 at high speeds without causing organ damage is a revelation. Top tip: Keep the car in the Normal driving mode for this subtle experience. Sport mode is harsh on the highway.
With the ever-increasing traffic in the Puget Sound region, manual transmissions are simultaneously becoming less amusing. I hit the inevitable jams around Tacoma and Bellevue and they were especially bad due to the holiday season, but the Veloster N clutch is easygoing and the gearshift practically slides into the right place on its own, so even stop-and-go situations are all right in the Veloster N.
The list of standard equipment on the Veloster N is, shall we say, compact. The requisite infotainment and connectivity features are there, and are wonderfully uncomplicated, but quite a bit of the comfort, convenience, safety and driver-assistance features many people have learned to love as they drive inexorably toward their dotage are missing. But those people are anathema to the Veloster N’s target market, so no problem.
2020 HYUNDAI VELOSTER N
Base price, including destination charge: $28,330
Price as driven: $30,430
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.