2019 Hyundai Veloster N First Drive: N for Nurburgring

Located above the 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, the shift lights were a helpful feature when driving on the ‘Ring. They light up and change color from white to yellow to red, indicating to the driver when it’s time to shift. The six-speed shifter has short throws and the clutch pedal feels firm, giving good feedback for the bite. Even the brake pedal has good communication, with short travel and firmness. The ventilated discs (13.6-inch in the front, 12.4-inch in the rear) do a good job slowing down the car. The air duct on the side of the front fascia helps bring cool air to the brakes, and even after a dozen laps at the ‘Ring, they didn’t seem to suffer.

The following day I drove the Veloster N on the streets around Nurburg. The route was pretty diverse, from twisty, narrow roads to the autobahn’s straights to low-speed drives through quaint villages. This time I drove in Sport mode most of the time and I noticed the suspension was a bit less stiff than in N mode, though the steering felt pretty much the same. The excellent quality of the German roads made it hard to notice any bumps or vibrations inside the cabin, making it a very comfortable drive.

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Step on the gas, and you’ll feel your back push against the seatback as you listen to the snaps and pops from the exhaust. The Veloster N is easy to drive and handles great on twisty roads; the additional welding and increased torsional stiffness (6.9 percent) over the regular Veloster make the N car behave better.

The Veloster N is fun and confidence-inspiring in corners, and my excitement grew to a different level when I hit the autobahn. The light traffic on a Saturday morning in the countryside made it the perfect day to go fast. How fast? The speedo’s needle moved past an indicated 160 mph, though Hyundai pegs the car’s top speed at 155 mph. At those high speeds the car felt quiet and controlled, though the autobahn’s exceptional conditions take lots of credit for that.

We look forward to driving the Veloster N more once it gets to U.S. shores, likely sometime in late October or early November. We’d like to try the launch control and drive a regular trim without the Performance package.

Quite a few exterior details make the Veloster N stand out. A mesh grille flanked by a red front splitter with air vents gives the front a unique look. The side sills and red calipers differentiate it from the regular Veloster, and one of my favorite features is the triangular brake light located on the spoiler. And yes, the weird 2+1 door configuration stays in the N car. All of that looks good until you see it side by side with the more polished and handsome i30 N. Unfortunately, so far there are no plans to bring the i30 N (known as the Elantra in our market) to the U.S.

Inside, a few touches tell you this is an N car. The steering wheel has two light blue buttons: One selects the Eco, Normal, or Sport drive mode, and the other, marked with a checkered flag, selects N or N Custom. The seat belts are a Performance Blue color, and the cloth seats, steering wheel, and shifter have light blue stitching. Compared to the regular Veloster, you’ll find the seats have more lateral support, though they’re nothing extra special. The infotainment system has cool performance graphics, including G force, turbo boost, torque, and power readings, suspension settings, and a built-in timer.

Pricing has not been announced yet, but Hyundai says we can expect the same good value the rest of its lineup is known for. We think the Veloster N will start somewhere in the high $20,000s, with the Performance package adding about $3,000 more. That’s in the same ballpark as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, but cheaper than the Honda Civic Type R.

Hyundai hopes to succeed with the Veloster N in the United States the way the N sub-brand already has in Korea and in Europe. If Hyundai’s performance arm can win the hearts of U.S. customers—and given our experience with the Veloster N, there’s a good chance it will—the N sub-brand will have a bright future in the U.S. Considering the talent inside Hyundai, we think N is here to stay.

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