2021 Hyundai Veloster N DCT new car reviews

The Veloster may have been a three-door oddball when it showed up in 2011, but it truly came out swinging when the second-generation model made its debut in 2018.

It got better, though, as Hyundai announced its N performance division, partly influenced by the ex-BMW M division head Albert Biermann, who was appointed as the head of R&D for Hyundai and Kia.

The flagship model for Hyundai's new performance brand? None other than the funky Veloster. (It's worth mentioning, though, that other markets get an N version of the now-discontinued-in-America Elantra GT, which they call the i30.) A 250-horsepower engine came standard, with an optional package bumping that power to 275. Perhaps the best part, though, was only one transmission choice was available: a real six-speed manual.

That all changes for 2021, however, as the optional Performance Package has been made standard—meaning all N models are good for 275 horsepower—and now an eight-speed, wet-type dual-clutch transmission can be had alongside the six-speed manual.

We've already spent some quality time with the manual-equipped N, but how does it perform with one less pedal, two more gears and a set of flappy paddles behind the wheel? You can read our impressions below.

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Other staff views

J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

You can see more of my gushing in the video review of the Veloster N, but overall I think Hyundai absolutely nailed it with this car. The level of performance attainable in this car by anyone who sits behind the wheel is pretty unparalleled. Hyundai has somehow managed to build a car that a novice can go fast in without much fear, which also doesn’t punish the expert with overly “safe” handling at the limit.

Not that the Veloster N feel unsafe, just that nearly every cornering attitude, from benign understeer, to high-speed four-wheel drifts, to tail-wagging corner entries is available to a skilled driver, and few chassis are capable of pulling that trick off successfully.

A lot of the credit goes to the steering feel, which is absolutely world-class, even with OEM tires and suspension alignment settings. In the Veloster N, you have the uncanny sense that you sit dead in the center of the mass of the car, and everything that happens at any corner hits your hands, your inner ear and the seat of your pants with exactly the same resolution.

For 2021, Hyundai has dropped the 250-horsepower base model of the Veloster N and made all Ns into 275-horsepower versions with the same setup as the previous “Sport” configuration, which includes the additional power and larger brakes. New for this year is also an eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission that is an exceptional companion for the turbocharged, 2.0-liter engine. Unlike so many modern sporty compact transmissions, the gears aren’t artificially short. Third gear especially is a particular treat, pulling strong to over 90 mph, giving the Veloster a lot of flexibility in medium speed track corners.

The diff is maybe not as magical as the one in the Honda Civic Type R, but that only means it takes a bit more skill to exit a corner than simply mashing the throttle and steering out. And the rear suspension—unlike the rear of so many sporty FWD cars—feels like it’s doing a fairly solid share of the work in cornering, rather than simply being the thing that keeps the gas tank from making sparks on the ground.

Perhaps the only bad news about the 2021 Veloster N is the near $5000 price increase from the previous year. That does get you the DCT, which is a nice upgrade if you care about lap times, and it is still $5000 cheaper than a Civic Type R list price. And I think the chances of finding a Veloster N at list price are MUCH higher than finding a Civic R at list. Basically, if someone tells me that $35,000 seems like a lot for a Veloster N, it immediately identifies them to me as someone who hasn’t driven a Veloster N.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

This is everything that we need today: the right size, the right power, the right everything. You can take it on track–bone stock–and run it all day.

I even like the color, including the matching seatbelts. “Is it white? Oh, wait, it’s like baby blue.”

But it works.

Our car came with the two-pedal setup. Insert womp-womp, right? Actually, no, it works, delivering crisp shifts. Would I personally order a real stick? Of course. But for those who prefer to not have a clutch pedal in their lives, this option is solid.

Seats are well bolstered. Controls feel good. Did I mention the baby blue seatbelts?

The Veloster also offers some practically, too. We fit two 4x8 sheets of plywood in the back. Okay, so they were cut up for use as shelves but, still, it’s a practical car. And that weird third door? It works. I could sit back there if I had to.

The Veloster N sounds good, too.

But–and here it comes: I think I’d rather live with the Civic Si. I realize that the Veloster N runs with the Civic Type R, but if we’re talking about a daily, the Civic just works with me better. I never got fully comfortable in the Hyundai, while the fact that the Civic Si comes with a limit-slip allows it to punch above its weight class.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard
Publisher Emeritus

Nice sized package. Cool looking. This car, while a bit rude and crude, sure makes nice noises and is plenty quick enough.

Thirty-five grand seems like a lot for a pocket rocket, but it is well equipped and has a rocking stereo system and other niceties.

I think in that price range, I would cross-shop VW GTIs and hot rod Honda Civics to get a bit more creature comfort.

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nderwater UltimaDork
12/22/20 9:11 a.m.

I'd like to have those seats in my Porsche yes

ProDarwin MegaDork
12/22/20 9:26 a.m.

They need to put this powertrain in the r-spec body.

Wonder how the DCT will hold up.  Does it carry the full track-use warranty that the 6speed does?  That would be impressive.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
12/22/20 9:33 a.m.
ProDarwin said:

Wonder how the DCT will hold up. 

That's what I'm eager to learn as well, mostly because the DCT-equipped N shot to the top of my "Which car would I pick if I had the means to replace my daily today?" list.

bobzilla MegaDork
12/22/20 9:59 a.m.

Finally, someone else posted. I couldn't be the first..... again. I'd take it in whatever color/trans I could get my hands on.

Vajingo Reader
12/22/20 12:20 p.m.

I've always said this car is one awd setup away from domination. Imagine, a wrx with 100k warranty?

Rodan Dork
12/22/20 12:59 p.m.

Is there a test anywhere yet with the DCT?

ProDarwin MegaDork
12/22/20 1:07 p.m.

In reply to Rodan :


Rodan Dork
12/22/20 1:23 p.m.

In reply to ProDarwin :

Thanks.  The main portion of that page doesn't have the DCT test info, but following one of the links on the page gets you there...

C&D Veloster N DCT test

bobzilla MegaDork
12/22/20 2:15 p.m.

In reply to Rodan :

From that article: "As a bonus, the automatic Veloster N gains an overboost feature called N Grin Shift, which engages the car's raciest drivetrain setting and increases the engine's torque output from 260 to 278 pound-feet for 20 seconds."

N Grin Shift. Dude, these guys are awesome.

goingnowherefast GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/22/20 7:05 p.m.

Worth noting that this was Car and Driver's quickest FWD car (0-60) that they've ever tested at 4.8 seconds. 

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