The midengined Hyundai Veloster Midship has landedThu, 29 May 2014 00:00:00 -0700
It's hard not to respect the Hyundai Veloster. It's polarizing, sure, but it's different -- in an era of indistinguishable profiles and middle-of-the road styling, the radical hatch really stands out. It's fun.
But you know what would be even more fun? A hyper, midengined rear-wheel drive version of the Veloster.
Called the Hyundai Veloster Midship, it actually exists, at least in concept form, and the automaker just busted it out at Korea's Busan motor show.
We only have one rendering so far. It only shows the rear three-quarter view. Color us intrigued.
The Veloster Midship is one of those cars we didn't even think to ask for but are now are dying to drive. In other words, it's the perfect concept -- a throwback to when automakers cooked up true dream cars, with no consideration of what 1,250-degree exhaust would do to tailgaters (though on second thought, maybe that was a feature rather than a bug).
In a way, it's the complete opposite of the purposeless Veloster C3 bike-toter. It's kind of like a miniature Bugatti for the rest of us, packing the kind of powertrain and configuration that the Veloster's bold lines demand.
Another Veyron-like trait? It's a true two-seater. That means you lose the Veloster's quirky three-door-plus-a-hatch configuration, but that's a small price to pay for rear-wheel drive and, consequently, a totally functional rear wing that wouldn't look out of place on the nose of an F1 car.
The totally-never-gonna-see-production concept gets, at least in theory, a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 putting out 295. So it's up 94 hp on the Veloster Turbo, but down about 700 hp, eight cylinders and two driven wheels from the Veyron. So what? You could probably buy one for the cost of a tire rotation at a certified Bugatti specialist. The chassis is reportedly modified for rigidity and, you know, to fit an engine where the trunk used to be. An aluminum suspension keeps weight down.
Look, we're not going to pretend that the Veloster Midship will be docking at dealerships soon. Why fantasize about the prospect? We couldn't even get representatives at corporate cousin Kia to say anything about the far more plausible GT4 Stinger concept.
But the idea of a mass-market automaker fielding a sporty midengine model isn't unprecedented, as any Toyota MR2 owner can attest to. Even the daunting challenge of turning a front-engine, front-wheel drive into a rear-mid monster isn't insurmountable: Renault somehow managed to turn the humble Le Car in to the rip-snorting Renault 5 Turbo and 5 Turbo 2 and then repeated the feat with the Clio V6 Renault Sport. Hyundai, ask yourself this: Am I really willing to let the French walk all over me when it comes to the front-drive platform-based midengined hot hatch game?
A Veloster Midship might not be a volume seller -- no, is practically guaranteed not to be a volume-seller -- but the enthusiast cred it would give the Korean automaker would be unbelievable. Ah, and we said we wouldn't fantasize...
By Graham Kozak