Hyundai Veloster

The Hyundai Veloster (based on the Elantra) isn't the most conventional compact hatchback. Walk up to the driver's side, and you'll see one door, but if you walk up to the passenger side, you'll see two doors, which are there to ease passenger ingress and egress.

The Veloster comes with a range of engines, starting with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder making 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, which can be sent through a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. Next up is a 1.6-liter, turbocharged I4 making 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That engine comes standard with a six-speed manual, but a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission is optional. Finally, there's the 2.0-liter, turbocharged I4 in the racy Veloster N that makes up to 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The Veloster N comes only with a six-speed manual transmission, and all Velosters send their power exclusively to the front wheels.

The most efficient Veloster with the 1.6-liter turbo and dual-clutch transmission gets an EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg highway. The performance-oriented Veloster N is unsurprisingly less efficient, netting 22/28 city/highway mpg. The small, sporty hatchback has a decent amount of space for cargo, with 19.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 44.5 cubic feet with the back seats folded down. Standard tech features include a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard driver-assistance features include automatic collision-mitigation braking and lane-keep assist. Adaptive cruise control is optional.

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Editors' First Take

By time I enter Turn 6, I'm already lit up with laughter. Half a lap of Sonoma Raceway in Hyundai's little RM20e electric prototype is enough to have me positively cackling, partly because of the insane acceleration and grip, but mostly because the whole experience is accompanied by an electric whirr that sounds like an Alvin and the Chipmunks record spun at warp speed.

The RM20e is the latest iteration of what Hyundai calls its "rolling lab" test bed, where the company uses its race car know-how to hone its road car development. You might remember the 390-horsepower RM19 prototype I drove in 2019, or the RM16, RM15 and RM14 that came before. The RM20e builds on what Hyundai learned from those projects while also incorporating a hugely important element: electrification.

You can think of the RM20e as a modified version of Hyundai's electric Veloster ETCR race car. Total output is a staggering 810 horsepower and 708 pound-feet of torque. For my lap around Sonoma, as well as two runs around an autocross course in a parking lot, Hyundai capped the engine at 650 hp. But I promise, even with a 160-hp penalty, this car's buzz is hardly killed.

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