Hyundai Veloster 1.6GDi Blue Drive
Four doors good, three doors better?
Price: from £17,995 (£18,345 as tested)
Engine capacity: 1.6l petrol
Top speed (mph): 125
0-62 mph (seconds): 19.7
Fuel economy (mpg): 43.5
CO2 emissions (g/km): 137
Is Hyundai's sporty new coupe's three-door (one driver's side; two passenger's side, plus boot) setup: A) a clever way of retaining the Veloster's looks from one side? B) A good method of maximising space and utility? or C) a clever marketing gimmick that offers potential for lots of "see two sides to the story" adverts? (The actual ad offers "One Car. Two sides".)
The answer, predictably, is a little bit of all three. The idea – of course – is that it looks better as you approach on the driver's side, but you could make a point of parallel parking the Veloster facing in the same direction every day to trick other people into only seeing its good side. But then – a bit like Mariah Carey's one-time insistence on only being photographed from her right side – you'd look a bit mad.
After a couple of days in the Veloster's company it's quite easy to forget all about its incongruous door arrangement. But my ride didn't have five passengers, so whether that'd be the case if there had been a person sitting behind the driver and clambering over two pairs of knees to alight is another matter.
But gimmick notwithstanding – and I liked everything about the concept except the single rear door's feeble handle – it shouldn't distract from another decent new car from the South Korean manufacturer. The Veloster's 1.6l, 138bhp engine offers ample power, but given its small size it doesn't jump from a standstill in perhaps the way it should. It's efficient, though; my 600-mile test drive returned under the listed 43.5mpg.
There are also decent as-standard extras, like a parking sensor, a solid touch-screen media system (though no built-in sat nav as standard) and Hyundai's useful, if sometimes annoying, eco-drive indicator that tells the most efficient point to change gear.
There's one other thing. At less than £20,000, but with a sporty look that's punctuated by racing seats stitched with the Veloster's logo and a chubby exhaust around the back, it's a car that one can easily imagine will be adopted by a certain tribe of torque-loving young men.
As if to prove that, at one point during my test drive a Seat Ibiza turned up alongside me at a red light, the driver wound down its window, turned its music up and revved aggressively before speeding off, pulling in front of me and slamming on the brakes. Which was nice.
But if speeding around retail car parks after 10pm isn't your kind of thing, the Veloster still boasts enough of the sensible to make it a decent family car. Or, at the very least, a weekend dad's car. Despite its lack of height, the Veloster uses its space efficiently – its low-to-ground chassis means a cabin and back seats that are just tall enough and, feeling like it's as wide as it is long, there's ample room in the back and in the boot for luggage.
The Veloster's door schtick and sporty curves may seem risky at first but, as a drive, it's actually fairly conventional. Whether that turns you on or puts you off might depend on which side of your personality is in charge.
The similar-looking Vauxhall Astra GTC has been praised for its performance and handling. It comes in at a similar price. The VW Scirocco Coupe costs a little more, but offers its driver a bit more nip in its 1.4l turbocharged engine. Neither have a rear passenger door, though. The new Hyundai i30 offers more space at a similar price.
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