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Hyundai Veloster's extra door, thumping stereo, handling impress

There's no doubt that Hyundai's cars have been getting better and better, but the Veloster is the first to show a streak of innovation.

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Derek Fung

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1 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

There's no doubt that Hyundai's cars have been getting better and better, but the Veloster is the first to show a streak of innovation.

The extra door on the passenger's side means that the boy racer looks are matched with a dash of practicality, but the highlight for us is the new touchscreen entertainment system that's matched with a thumping stereo. It's a pity that the car's looks and sporty set-up aren't matched, though, with a more powerful engine.

That said, this is the best Hyundai to date and a sign of (hopefully) even better to come.

On the one hand, while the new Veloster is a funky, spunky-looking car, it's slightly impractical for a people-hauling, three-door hatchback.

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2 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

But wait! Walk around to the other side, and the car sports an extra door; allowing rear-seat passengers easier ingress and egress.

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3 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

It's certainly easier than flipping the front seat forward and squeezing through, but the sloping roofline means that even shorties, like this 1.65m writer, need to mind their heads.

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In the style of Alfas past, the Veloster tries to conceal its rear door handle in the window dressing.

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5 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Hyundai interiors have looked quite nice for a while, now, but this is one of the first to mix looks with more upscale materials.

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Perhaps, even more importantly, the Veloster debuts the company's new high-res touchscreen entertainment interface. Impressively, the new system is standard on both trim levels.

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7 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The system is more than capable of playing back DivX movies.

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8 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

It doesn't yet feature sat nav, but Hyundai assures us that it soon will. How soon? Representatives won't say.

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Hiding within the hatch latch is the rear-view camera.

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10 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Oddly enough, for a car that's pitched as sporty, there is a built-in eco game that awards points for thrifty driving.

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11 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Bluetooth is also standard. For the uninitiated, pairing can only be found in the "Phone" menu, not in the "Setup Bluetooth" menu.

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12 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The Hyundai sound system uses a special combined USB and auxiliary jack panel for iPhone and iPod compatibility.

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13 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

It does, however, do a very good job of handling USB keys filled with music.

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14 of 39 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Given that the Veloster is targeted at younger buyers, Hyundai has fitted an impressive seven-speaker sound system, plus subwoofer, that's easily the best thing our ears have caught a whiff of under $40,000 — possibly even under $50,000.

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The Veloster starts from AU$24,000, while the upscale Veloster+ (seen here) is priced at AU$28,000. Single-zone climate-control air con is only present on the Veloster+.

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As there is no dedicated climate-control display, you'll need to fiddle with the knobs to see what the current settings are, on the big screen.

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A power-operated driver's seat, including lumbar adjustment, is another Veloster+ exclusive feature.

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A proximity key and push-button start is only present on the Veloster+.

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A panoramic glass roof, with powered sunroof, is also exclusive to the Veloster+.

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Other goodies on the Veloster+ include low-profile tyres, wrapped around 18-inch rims with colour-coded inserts.

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LED driving lights are another external visual identifier for the Veloster+.

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LED brake lights, however, are standard on both Veloster models.

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Leather and faux leather cover the seats and other upholstered items in the Veloster+.

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The mirrors can be folded in electronically, and (in the Veloster+) feature heating elements.

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The door pulls are better to look at than to use.

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These bonnet vents aren't even vents.

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The six-speed manual shifts between gears with nice, short throws and a wonderful snick-snick feel; Hyundai's first dual-clutch transmission is an optional extra.

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This is a particularly good thing, because the Veloster's 1.6-litre engine doesn't do the hot-hatch exterior justice.

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Sporting direct injection, the engine pumps out 103kW of power and 166Nm of torque. Driven sportily around town, the Veloster drank at a rate of 10.2L/100km.

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The engine revs freely, but those desiring sportiness to match the car's looks will need to wait for the forthcoming turbo version.

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The seats are quite grippy, but the seating position is quite high.

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The Veloster's suspension is nicely tied down, with body roll kept well in check.

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The ride is firm, but not uncomfortable.

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The car's steering does little to transmit what's happening to the wheels into the driver's fingers.

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Vision, rearwards, is hampered by the split in the rear windscreen. The view over the shoulder and out the narrow rear windows isn't that great, either.

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Cruise control, understandably for a car under $30,000, is of the dumb variety. No radar or camera control here...

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The boot space isn't particularly long, but it is deep.

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Under the boot floor is a space-saver spare wheel.

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The rear seats fold, but don't lie flat.

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