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

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

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

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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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