Hyundai has unveiled its new 3-door coupe Veloster and Curb concept vehicle at Detroit Auto Show 2011. The Veloster combines the style of a coupe and the functionality of a hatchback with a single driver-side door, two passenger-side doors and a hatch, while the Curb concept is a compact crossover that is also intended as a test bed for Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system.
Named as the sixth vehicle in Hyundai’s "24/7 version 2.0" product initiative that will see seven new models released in 24 months, the front-wheel-drive 2012 Veloster is powered by the all-new Gamma 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine, which is the smallest Hyundai engine to use Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI). It delivers an estimated peak output of 138 hp at 6,300 rpm and maximum torque of 123 lb. ft at 4,850 rpm and boasts an estimated highway fuel economy of up to 40 mpg.
The Gamma engine also features Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT), an electronic throttle control, a roller timing train, variable induction and anti-friction coatings.
For the Veloster Hyundai offers a standard six-speed manual transmission or its newly developed six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Hyundai says its new DCT blends the benefits of a manual transmission – low fuel consumption and sporty driving – with the benefits of automatic transmissions – smooth shift quality – to provide a five to six percent improvement in fuel efficiency and three to seven percent improvement in acceleration over a traditional automatic. Additionally, the DCT enables direct connection for high efficiency and uninterrupted torque transfer during shifts.
Hyundai says the Veloster’s DCT can be thought of as two traditional manual transmissions, each with its own clutch operating in parallel and alternating shifts. One gear acts on gears one, three and five, while the other is used for gears two, four, six and reverse.
The Veloster’s 3-door design overcomes the compromise found on some other coupes with a smaller rear-hinged door providing access to the rear seats. Such vehicles meant that the driver-side door needing to be open before the rear door could be opened. Instead, the Veloster places a conventionally hinged rear door on the passenger side, with the handle hidden to maintain the coupe design.
“Why should cars be symmetrical on the outside, when they’re asymmetrical on the inside?” said John Krafcik, president of Hyundai Motor America at NAIAS.
The Veloster weighs in at 2,584 lb (1,172 kg) and comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels. Two types of 18-inch wheels – one with painted inserts – are also available.
Inside Hyundai says it has taken inspiration from a high-performance sport bike. The center stack and controls are designed to resemble a sport bike fuel tank, the air vents are inspired by motorcycle tailpipes and the floor console mirrors are designed to mirror the seat of a bike.
In another motorbike-related move, the Veloster’s front A-pillars are blacked out to give the front windscreen and side windows a motorbike helmet visor appearance.
The Veloster is set to go on sale around the middle of 2011 for US$17,000.
With the Veloster debuting more than three years ago and now a production car it’s worth paying attention to Hyundai’s new concept – the Curb. Hyundai gives a choice of acronyms for the vehicle calling it a compact Urban Activity Vehicle (UAV) and Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV). Aimed at “Generation Y living an urban lifestyle with an active night life” the Curb comes loaded with technology and is designed as a test bed for future Hyundai Blue Link and vehicle connectivity technology.
In fact, Hyundai says it was the dual concerns of packing a vehicle with advanced technology that was intended for an urban environment littered with potholes that led to the “technology rugged” design direction of the Curb.
For the “technology rugged” look the Curb features the same blacked out A-pillars found on the Veloster to resemble the face shield of a motorcycle helmet and adds thin, sleek headlamps and taillamps and 22-inch five spoke wheels with Michelin tires and a custom saffron colored tread pattern. On the functional side the exhaust vents are designed to pop out to reveal a bike rack, while the roof features pop-up roof rack towers.
With touch interfaces all the rage with Gen Y these days Hyundai have provided touch pads on the doors and rear hatch so they can be opened with a swipe of a finger. With Gen Y apparently also partial to light shows, starting the Curb sets off numerous LEDs illuminating in sequence, starting with the outside rows and the Curb’s badging illuminating through the paint.
But it’s on the inside where the techno action really lies, with connectivity the main focus. A touchscreen that “flows like a river” from the gauge cluster to the center stack controls, across the instrument panel and all the way into the back seat allows passengers to pass information between each other – as opposed to talking for example. The screen can also display vehicle diagnostics, download apps and act as a videophone.
Monitors are everywhere, including in the back of the headrests and even the steering wheel, which consists of an opaque surface with a monitor showing through. There’s also a heads up display (HUD) that can display navigation information as well as the images captured by the cameras that replace the side mirrors.
The Curb concept is powered by a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine found in the Veloster, which develops 175 hp and 169 lb. ft of torque. Hyundai says that by adding its Idle Stop and Go (ISG) technology, the Curb would achieve over 30 mpg in city driving and over 40 mpg on the highway.
Blue Link telematics
Both the Veloster and Curb concept feature Hyundai’s all-new telematics platform called Blue Link, which will debut in the first half of 2011 on the Sonata sedan and will be available for that majority of Hyundai’s lineup by 2013. The system, which will launch with more than 30 different features, will be bundled in three different subscription plans. The system, which is centered around voice recognition, is accessed through three buttons located on the rearview mirror – one is for menus, the next is for Web-based search and the last is for contacting a call-center operator.
Assurance PackageThe basic Assurance package provides core safety services including Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and Assistance, which sends out a signal containing customer and location information to a response center when an airbag is deployed, SOS Emergency Assistance, which allows customers to request 911 assistance by pressing the dedicated SOS button in the vehicle, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance, which allows users to contact Roadside Assistance via the press of a button. The Assurance package will come free on Blue Link-equipped vehicles for an introductory period, after which owners will need to shell out a subscription fee.
Essentials PackageNext step up is the Essentials package, which provides vehicle self-diagnostics, safeguard and remote access capabilities including remote locking/unlocking, remote horn and lights, panic notification (which notifies customers when the panic button on their vehicle key fob has been activated), and remote vehicle start. There’s also a hands-free text-messaging feature and the ability to send the vehicle’s location to social networking sites.
There are also Theft Protection features that allow law enforcement to gradually reduce the engine power of the vehicle or immobilize the engine management system to prevent the vehicle starting up. Additionally, the owner can set up a Geofence and receive notification when the vehicle moves beyond a pre-defined region. They can also be notified when the vehicle exceeds a specified speed limit or is being used outside a pre-determined time.
Guidance PackageAs its name suggest, the top of the tier Guidance package adds navigation features including turn-by-turn navigation, point-of-interest voice searches, traffic information and gas station location and prices. There’s also an Eco-Coach that tracks your driving performance habits in terms of mpg and CO2 emissions, restaurant ratings and weather forecasts and alerts. For Guidance Package subscribers without a navigation screen, the system will default to the vehicle’s radio for audio prompts and arrow displays.
Hyundai hasn’t yet set the pricing for the Blue Link system or subscription fees.