Hyundai's distinctive Veloster hatchback is getting a makeover for the 2019 model-year.

There’s something endearingly odd about the Hyundai Veloster.  The Korean carmaker’s hot hatch was a quirky visual standout when it made its debut seven years ago, and it gained momentum with a turbocharged performance post a few years later.

Now, Hyundai’s giving us a sneak peek at the second-generation Veloster ahead of its official debut at the North American International Auto Show later this month. And while it retains some of the quirky and endearing touches of the original – including the unusual asymmetric door layout – it gets a more aggressive look that Hyundai designers like to call a “city rally car.”

Both the base and turbo models are back for 2019. And word has it we just might also see a true performance model, part of Hyundai’s new “N” line, that could deliver as much as 271 horsepower.

(Hyundai to debut next-gen fuel-cell vehicle at Consumer Electronics Show. Click Here for a preview.)

No, the original Veloster wasn’t the first three-door we’ve seen.  Saturn was there before, but the GM model’s rear gangway was a “suicide door” design that also required you to open the front passenger door first.  No such complications for the with Hyundai Veloster, which managed to package a conventional and surprisingly large third door on the passenger side.

The 2019 Veloster retains its asymmetric layout with two doors on the passenger side.

The same basic layout carries over, as does Veloster’s distinctive center-mounted exhaust with chromed exhaust tips. But the 2019 remake features a lower, sportier roofline, more defined shoulders, wind-cheating air curtains for both the front and rear wheels, and a rear diffuser. There also are new LED running lights and taillights, and optional LED headlamps framing a wider cascading grille.

The 2019 Hyundai Veloster picks up another 0.8 inches in length, at 166.9 inches nose-to-tail, while it adds 0.4 inches of width, growing to 70.9 inches. Hyundai says it’s also improved the interior package to give more space to both front and rear occupants.

The interior theme is “café racer,” says Mike Evanoff, head of product planning for Hyundai Motor America. The cabin looks a lot cleaner, with a sporty, asymmetrical layout which is a bit more upscale than the original car’s no-frills look.

Hyundai also has added more content for 2019, including a 7-inch display audio touchscreen – with an 8-inch display available, and a third, slightly larger one with the optional navigation system. There’s a standard backup camera now, as well as performance-style gauges. Options include Qi wireless charging and a “combiner” style heads-up display. Similar to the system Mazda offers, it projects key information on an otherwise transparent glass screen mounted atop the instrument panel just past the steering wheel. Also available: an eight-speaker Infinity audio system.

The interior of the 2019 Hyundai Veloster also adopts an asymmetric layout.

The list of high-tech safety features grows significantly larger, with standard and optional features including blind-spot detection, cross-traffic alert, driver attention alert, radar cruise control and forward collision warning with brake assist.

(Click Here for the inside scoop about Hyundai’s plans to expand its eco-friendly vehicle line-up.)

While Hyundai isn’t ready to confirm the availability of a Veloster N package it does not two engine options, starting with the base 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle four making 147 horsepower – 15 more than the outgoing hatchback – and 132 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to either a six-speed stick or a six-speed automatic.

The upgraded 1.6-liter turbo-four now makes 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, and buyers will have a choice of that six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch manumatic. Hyundai also says it has retuned the powertrain to yield a more satisfying engine note.

The reality is that the market for hot hatches is limited in today’s SUV-crazed world. Hyundai is likely to generate a lot more sales with the new Kona ute, but the upgrades to the 2019 Veloster should help the Koreans maintain a loyal following among the hot hatch crowd.

(Hyundai planning to add, update eight crossovers by 2020. Click Here for the story.)

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