The 2019 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec 1.6L Turbo is the Winchester Mystery House of automobiles.
Look at the photo above. Note that there is no door behind the driver door. But there is bench seating in the back.
Farther down on this page, you will be looking at those back seats through the open back door on the passenger side. So any occupant(s) after the third would either have to enter the same door and slide over, or the driver would have to collapse his/her seat forward to allow entry from that side.
Now scroll down to the bottom photo, which shows the passenger side of the sporty little sedan. Do you see a handle for the back door? I didn’t.
In fact, I had to contact that all-knowing source of all things motorized vehicle–YouTube–to find out what the hell was up with this Veloster. It was then I discovered the handle is molded into the black vinyl trim around the back passenger side window. Can you make out the triangle flush with the window’s left side (when facing it)?
OK, now check out the hatchback in the same photo. Can you see a lift-up handle or button for the hatch? Again, I could not when the driver first dropped off the Veloster, he had to show me where it was. The extra-small handle is connected to the holder for the back window’s wiper.
Jeepers, they should sell tickets enter in this car, whose mysteries continued once I found myself behind the wheel to put ‘er in reverse. I could not for the life of me figure out how to do so with the six-speed manual’s shifter. (It’s the bulbous chrome domed little sucker in the top photo, to the right of the steering wheel.)
Holding in the clutch pedal, I could easily shift through gears one through six, but pulling hard left and up to reverse, as indicated on the chrome top’s diagram, was impossible. So it was back to Mr. YouTube and a video of an older Veloster whose stick one would shift into reverse by pushing on a hidden button.
The ’19 Veloster R-Spec had no such button, but if you look really closely at the top photo you will make out a little ledge just below the bulb top. What you do is place you fingers under the ledge, pull upward and then move the top of the shifter into the reverse position, guided by the friction of your palm against the bulb. You must have the clutch pedal pushed in, of course.
I don’t know why Hyundai even bothered with this trickery because, as a friend put it, a stick shift is an anti-theft device for millennials.
Oh, and I probably should have made this crystal clear up top: I really, really loved this car. First and foremost, it fits no problem in my messy garage, which mysteriously collects so much stuff that the walls appear to be moving toward one another like the trap that is supposed to crush Batman or Maxwell Smart in the old 1960s TV shows.
But more than anything, what makes the Veloster R-Spec stand out is it’s just hella fun to drive. The 1.6-liter turbo, gas-direct injection engine is plenty powerful enough to push the little sedan, generating 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The aforementioned six-speed manual is smooth and forgiving with its B&M Racing Sport Shifter.
We took the Veloster R-Spec to Arizona and back, and it was plenty comfortable both ways with its black leather-trimmed seats and unique cloth surface. It was a hot weekend, but with such a small cabin the A/C cooled down the interior instantly. The Veloster has an eight-inch color navigation screen that also controls the rear-view camera, Infinity Premium audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto.
I never imagined suggesting this with a Trump-colored car, but I actually dug the Sunset Orange paint job, which looked even better under my garage’s florescent lights than it did in sunlight. It looked especially tricked out against the black, 18-inch alloy wheels.
The 2019 Veloster R-Spec would make a great starter car or, in my case, a commuter. It gets a combined 29 miles to the gallon (26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway), is loaded with advanced safety features, comes with Hyundai’s very generous warranties and, best of all, the total manufacturer’s suggested retail price is a very reasonable $23,785 (with everything mentioned in this review included at no extra cost).
To revise my old Disneyland tram spiel, just remember when entering the back to lower your head, watch your feet and slide across the seats as that is the only way we clean them.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.