It's hard for a car company to be cool. Mainly because a car company doesn't have to be cool to be profitable. Look at the number one carmaker in our country: Toyota. Toyota vehicles are the most reliable cars being made today. But it's hard to think of what car in their lineup is considered cool. The Camry? Dadmobile. Innova? School bus. Vios? Sales agent transport. I think the Hilux is rather cool in that it straddles the line between ruggedness and style. The Top Gear TV show thinks it's cool, but only after they tried wrecking it.
If there's any car company that makes Toyota look over its shoulder, it has to be Hyundai. The past several years saw Hyundai Asia Resources Incorporated (HARI), the official distributor, come out with hit after sales hit. No matter what engine a Hyundai has under the hood, the Starex, the Tucson and the Accent only have one sound to the ears of Hyundai dealers: the sound of a cash register ringing. So we know that Hyundai cars sell, but are any of them cool? The model that comes closest to coolness is the Genesis Coupe. Hyundai sprang a surprise on us when they came out with that RWD 300hp firecracker.
But it's not cool yet, because this is.
This is the Hyundai Veloster. Yes, those are Philippine plates on it. I saw this in a badminton court parking lot on my way to the office (so pardon the amateur iPhone photography). I've been seeing stolen shots on the Internet for the past few weeks now, but seeing it standing still is a sight to behold.
After the Tucson and the Sonata, I thought I already adjusted to the Koreans' new proficiency in car design, but the Veloster made me tip my hat to their designers once more. I mean look at it, it looks better than anything in Toyota or Honda's lineup. Hyundai did what the Japanese are increasingly averse to doing, designing cars that take risks in design. Yes this is a design risk. The older baby boomer generation might not appreciate it. They'll think it's too avant-garde, too weird, or both. That's actually some sort of validation that this a cool car. You know what it reminds me of?
Fine, call it blasphemy to compare an exotic supercar to a Korean upstart—no matter how well the design. But do you see it? Here are the other cool style touches.
The headlights are very swept back and there's a cleft that reminds me of the Aston Martin One-77 face.
The tires even have cool red lines that complement the overall look of the Veloster. I wonder if it matches in the other car colors too.
The rear is kind of odd-looking, but you can't accuse it of being boring. But that center exhaust is sweet, it reminds me of the one in the Lamborghini Aventador. I know at this point it sounds like Hyundai is raiding the designs of current supercars, but do you really care? At least it's not wholesale copying like the Chinese are doing.
I spoke to HARI about the Veloster and they said they have no problem bringing it in save for this:
That GDI logo is the issue. It stands for the kind of engine the Veloster has: a 1.6-liter four-cylinder Gasoline Direct Injection motor that generates 138hp. HARI says the kind of fuel we have is too dirty for the GDI engine. They sent samples of our petrol to Korea where it is now being evaluated, to determine if it's compatible with the Veloster's only engine variant. Well, this car is obviously running on local fuel, and it seems to be doing okay.
Hyundai proved that they can develop and build a cool automobile, the only thing cooler would be if they can officially bring it in for the Filipino motorist to enjoy.