The 2021 Hyundai Veloster Lives up to Its Reputation With Its Manual Transmission

The 2020 Hyundai Veloster is already an interesting story. Hyundai doesn’t really have a history of making sporty cars available in the United States, but they seem to have thrown everything they have at recent model years of the Veloster. At a price comparable to other “hot hatches,” Hyundai made the Veloster accessible and fun to drive. But what really sets it apart is its manual transmission. Building on a history of reliable vehicles with stick shifts, the Veloster’s gear shift makes it clear that you’re supposed to feel like you’re in control and the road is yours.

How Hyundai reinvented the Veloster

Over the past few years, Hyundai completely leaned into marketing the Veloster as an affordable performance-driven car. It looks sporty, it feels sporty, and it doesn’t seem like it would be out of place at a racetrack or rally driving event. MotorTrend even selected the Veloster on a recent list of its manual car roundup. But most important, it still comes in at a reasonable price. 

The regular version of the Veloster (non-N) is available in a range of trims. The Hyundai Veloster 2.0 retails at only $18,900. But Hyundai is so dedicated to ensuring that it provides the sporty drive they’re trying to sell that even the base 2.0 model comes with the manual transmission.

The next trim up is the Hyundai Veloster 2.0 Premium. At $23,100, the 2.0 Premium is a significant jump up from the 2.0. The major upgrades of the Premium are better fuel economy and technology, including a power tilt-and-slide sunroof. Hyundai is clearly satisfied with the performance of its budget option and willing to go higher with the rest of the trim options. 

The Veloster’s Turbo trims

There are three more trims on the base model: Turbo R-Spec, Turbo, and Turbo Ultimate. As expected, these trims come with a Turbo engine – a 201-hp 1.6-liter Turbo GDI four-cylinder. The Turbo R-Spec can basically be seen as another version of the 2.0, while the Turbo is similar to the 2.0 Premium with its added technology.

The Turbo Ultimate goes above and beyond in both categories, featuring the Turbo engine with more technology than any other trim. But it’s also the most pricey at $28,450. At that point, you’re well into the Veloster N territory. And that’s what’s really turning heads as we head into 2021.

The 2021 Hyundai Veloster N‘s MSRP hasn’t been publicly announced yet but most estimates put it north of $30,000 and potentially even $31,000. At nearly twice the price of the Hyundai Veloster 2.0 base model, plenty of improvements should be expected. And if the vehicle is anything like the 2020 model, Hyundai will deliver.

Why the manual transmission works

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There’s a reason the Veloster N is showing up on lists of the most fun-to-drive cars. It’s truly a sports car at a sedan’s price. Part of that is the way it handles, the fuel economy, the speed, etc. But part of it is the manual transmission. Hyundai gambled that Veloster buyers would want to truly feel the car and control every turn. They were right.

The Veloster has been a surprising success over the past year, similar to how Kia’s Telluride shocked the world. Both of these results have been due to smart decision-making from the higher-ups at the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate. The Telluride feels like a car from the future, excelling at nearly everything you might want to do in it. And the Veloster? With the manual transmission, it feels like a car from the past. But for the market Hyundai is targeting, that’s absolutely perfect.