The 2021 Hyundai Veloster N is Hyundai’s high-performance answer to the hot hatch question. The Veloster N has made significant waves and helped pump up Hyundai’s N vehicles since its release in 2018. The 2021 Hyundai Veloster N is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine capable of 275 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque and, to all appearances, keeps up with its predecessor as a high-performance hatch.
But what’s there to love in this sporty little hatchback? We are going to take you through the five best things about Hyundai’s top-level hot hatch and also mention a few of its shortcomings.
We Love: N Mode
The 2021 Veloster N features a slew of drive modes accessible via the light purple “Drive Modes” button located on the left of the steering wheel. But on the right side of the steering wheel, you’ll find a light purple checkered flag button that unlocks N Mode or N Custom, should you press it twice. N Mode on the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N is both a drive mode as well as a screen that unlocks multiple performance pages.
And that isn’t the last spot you’ll see N Mode. It also shows up on the navigation screen’s main menu. Pressing the N Mode icon from there oddly does not enable N Mode, but it does bring you to some N-inspired performance pages and settings.
The main N Mode screen showcases a G-Force meter, as well as oil temp, torque, and turbo bar gauges. You also get a performance timer and other performance options such as the Velostar’s launch control. From this screen, you can pick and chose just how personalized you want your N Custom settings to be.
Whether you’re looking to take the Veloster N out for some hot laps at the track or simply want to have a few more data points for your Sunday drive, we love that N Mode gives you customizable data. Plus, who doesn’t want to know how many G’s their hot hatch can pull?
We Love: That Addictive Exhaust Note
If you leave the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N in its more tame drive modes, you can pull out of your driveway without getting too much of an evil eye from your neighbors. But turn on N Mode or N Custom, and you might get a letter in the mail from your homeowner’s association.
In N Mode or in N Custom, the full volume of the exhaust can be unleashed. A simple blip of the throttle or pull of the dual transmission paddles unleashes a symphony of gargles, pops, and bangs that is sure to please your inner 5-year-old. We love that the Veloster’s stock exhaust can go from tame to thrilling at a moment’s notice — even if your neighbors might not agree.
We Love: Smooth 8-Speed DCT & N Grin Shift
Beyond being able to help you call up that exhilarating exhaust note whenever you wish, the dual-clutch transmission on the Veloster N is a shining star. The smooth 8-speed DCT gives you the ability to leave the vehicle in an automatic shifting mode, but I recommend knocking the shifter over into the manual mode for a more sporty experience where you can select your own gears.
As in many modern cars, you can change gears via the gear lever being moved over to the left or via the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. But beyond this, the Veloster N DCT has a unique party trick — the N Grin Shift (NGS).
Activated by a small button on the steering wheel, NGS increases peak torque by 7% by overboosting the turbocharged engine and maxing out the DCT responsiveness. This takes the Veloster N from 260 lb.-ft. to 278 lb.-ft. of torque. And, yes, it does make you grin.
We Love: N Light Sport Bucket Seats
The seats equipped in the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N are officially named the “N Light Sport Bucket Seats.” Beyond the fact they look good thanks to the mix of leather and cloth, a large bold N logo, and harness pass-through holes, they also are comfortable and supportive, keeping you firmly situated for any spirited driving.
We can only assume that Hyundai looked to the aftermarket Recaro Sportster seat when creating their seats for the Veloster N. And while people often spend thousands on aftermarket seats for their sports car or hot hatch, we love that you get this experience standard in the Veloster N.
We Love: The Price
The window sticker on the 2021 Veloster N that I test drove came in at just under $35,000 — $34,745 to be exact. Off the top of my head, it might be the cheapest performance trim DCT vehicle you can buy new. And even beyond its positives in the DCT department, it might be the best new performance bargain under $35,000 you can find. We love that you don’t have to break the bank to step into this sporty hot hatch.
We Hate: Tame Looks
Put the 2021 Veloster N next to a “normal” Veloster and you could probably guess which one is the more performance-oriented trim. But by itself, you would have to look hard at the Velostar N to know that its something special. Sure, there is the “N” badge and some unique wheels, but we wanted the Veloster N to look how it drives.
We Hate: Bottom End MPG
Low miles per gallon comes with the territory of a performance trim, but you don’t exactly want to be at the bottom of the bunch when compared to the competition. The 2021 Hyundai Veloster N gets 20 city and 27 highway, for a combined 22 mpg.
Though the Honda Civic Type R gets about the same mpg as the Veloster N, the John Cooper Works GP that we tested got 24 city and 30 highway combined for 26 mpg, and the VW GTI can usually be counted on to average somewhere in the 30 mpg range.
We Hate: Interior Quality
After I raved about the seats, here we are dogging on the interior. Though the Veloster N seats are a highlight of the interior and the cool light purple seat belts and light purple buttons do accentuate the “N” inspired interior, but there isn’t much else good going on inside the Veloster. Hard plastic blankets the door cards and most of the cabin, an unpleasant reminder that you are in a cheap hatchback.
Competitor Comparison: Veloster N vs. JCW GP
As we mentioned with the miles per gallon issue above, we also tested the 2021 John Cooper Works (JCW) GP a few weeks ago. We wanted to take a moment to see how they stack up against each other since they are two of the strongest hot hatches on the market right now.
As strange as it may seem when comparing the two, the strength of one is a negative for the other, and vice versa. In terms of power, the JCW GP has a monster 300 hp engine. The Veloster N doesn’t have the 300+ figure engine, but it does have a stronger transmission with its peach of a dual-clutch transmission.
The JCW GP, on the other hand, is quite expensive, coming in at over $45,000 while the Veloster N is one heck of a bargain at less than $35,000. Where the Veloster N has bland styling, the JCW GP looks like it just came off a rally stage.
The result is two very different takes on the hot hatch trying to reach the same goal. My money is on the Veloster N, by only a slight margin.