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In its early days, the styling of Hyundai cars can hardly be described as revolutionary, groundbreaking or imaginative. Cars like the Pony, Stellar, Excel and so on hardly excelled on the styling front. Even the styling of latter Hyundai models like the Sonata, Avante and Getz can be described as unimaginative.
Things changed dramatically with the introduction of the i45 a few years back though. The i45 was one of the first Hyundai models to embody the brand’s then new ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language. Fluidic sculpture styling has also been adopted for subsequent models like the recent Elantra and i40 wagon. While fluidic sculpture designs are no doubt bold and revolutionary, its somewhat fussy lines have been criticized by some of Hyundai’s competitors and critics. Despite these doubts though, Hyundai is pushing ahead to embody its entire line-up with fluidic sculpture design ethos.
After the i45, Elantra and i40 wagon, the latest Hyundai model sold here that carries fluidic sculpture design language is the somewhat unusual looking Veloster. Well, it is unusual not because of its fluidic sculpture lines and creases but it is thanks to its one-of-a-kind 1+2 coupe body style. The next question is: How is the Veloster a 1+2?
Based on a concept car from the 2007 Seoul Motor show, the Veloster actually has one door on the driver’s side just like a coupe but on the passenger side, the Veloster actually has two doors, which makes it a five-door hatchback – split personalities then. At this point, you might point out that we’ve previously seen this 1+2 door layout on the Mini Clubman, but the Veloster’s is pretty different from the Clubman’s additional rear-hinged door on the driver’s side – its additional door is actually conventionally hinged like a normal five-door hatchback’s and Hyundai actually bothered to keep the door on the kerb side for both left and ride-hand drive models, a detail that BMW hadn’t done for the Clubman due to cost reasons. To give the Veloster a more symmetrical coupelook on both sides, Hyundai’s designers have incorporated hidden a door handle on the rear door, Alfa 147 style.
The Veloster’s links to its Elantra stable mate are pretty obvious up front. There’s the familiar hexagonal grille and sweptback headlamps. The large chrome bits on the grille and headlamps might look at home on a saloon model like the Elantra but a sporty coupe like the Veloster can make do with less chrome on its front end. There are also creases on the front bumper that seem to be inspired by Citroen’s DS models. The bonnet features non-functional bonnet vents, which can be a tad too racy and boy racer to some. Along the flanks, the Veloster features the unique character lines that are a signature of fluidic sculpture designs. The 18-inch alloy wheels feature body coloured inserts and fill up the swollen wheel arches very well indeed. The black A-pillars give the glasshouse a striking appearance while the roof gently slopes down towards the rear to meet the two-piece glass hatch. The Veloster’s tail lamps and centrally mounted rectangular exhaust tips mimic that of the Renault Megane coupe while the rear window obviously harks back to the Honda CR-X and CR-Z.
According to Hyundai, the Veloster’s unique door layout is conceived to solve the inherent compromise of traditional coupe design that sacrifices convenience for style. Hmm, if the designers managed to hide the rear door handle so well then the Veloster’s style will hardly be compromised if it had two doors on both sides, wouldn’t it? Then again, giving the Veloster four conventional doors makes it just another five-door hatchback with a sleek coupe-like profile rather than a unique 1+2 coupe body style. Regardless of its door layout, the Veloster is undoubtedly a bold and inspired design for an affordable coupe model that wouldn’t look out of place next to the likes of the Volkswagen Scirocco and Mini Coupe on the coupe catwalk. The Veloster should also bring added emotional appeal to the Hyundai brand and attract new buyers to it.
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