There are worse ways to spend a work week in the Southland.
You love LA. Sunshine, palm trees, relaxed vibes. And after a long, cold winter in New York, a week of work in LA is welcome. Right?
And then you get to the airport and this is waiting for you.
The Hyundai Veloster Turbo. In Vitamin C. In a stick shift. And you do a happy dance.
A week of living like a local in the Veloster Turbo stick shift
LA is car land. They love their cars. And they love to drive (even if they complain about the traffic). They’ve mastered the office on wheels, getting ready in the rear view mirror and putting on Spanx in the driver’s seat. So spending a week in a sharp little six speed tooling around town made me feel like local.
What this car costs
- Starting price for the Veloster, about $18,000
- Veloster Turbo, about $22,600 with a manual transmission; add $1,200 for an automatic transmission
- Price of the model we drove, about $26,000, which includes the $2,700 tech package which adds the panoramic sun roof, parking sensors and upgrades the touch screen to a 7-inch screen with navigation
Lights, Lipgloss, Action: Getting ready in the Veloster
After driving around all day—Santa Monica to Irvine to Hollywood—it was time for dinner. I wanted to arrive fresh and primped, not looking stressed and road worn. I loved that the panoramic sun roof in the Veloster flooded the car with beautiful natural light, allowing me to primp in perfectly balanced light.
During my week I left my touch up basics—lip gloss, lip liner, eye liner and studio fix powder— in the cubby under the Veloster’s center console. Even with those things there, I could pop my phone into the space and plug it in while I was driving. Which leads to my next favorite thing: Apple Car Play.
Apple Car Play: A girl’s best friend
I can’t say enough how much I love this feature. And here’s why: plug in your phone, enable Car Play and boom: you’re connected to navigation, texts, Spotify, iPod and your phone. Siri looks up stuff for you. Apple Maps gives you turn by turn directions. The screen is easy to see. And you can get and send texts by pushing the voice button on the steering wheel.
Stuck in traffic (what are the chances!) I was late for dinner with my friend Joanne; we texted back and forth as I updated her on my ETA and we discussed our plans. When I arrived Joanne scolded me: You shouldn’t text while you drive, she said. YOU should get Apple Car Play, I said. She’s got to see this.
Six Speed Heaven, even in LA Traffic
I love to drive a stick shift, and I love a fast little car, so the Veloster Turbo’s six speed made the week even crazier good. On a lonely coastal highway or in thick city traffic, there’s no better car to drive in Southern Cali than a stick shift. The small, sporty Veloster was fun to merge onto the highway, to whip through traffic, to park in tight parking lots.
One of the things I liked the most in the Veloster was the easy clutch: not too stiff, not too soft; easy to manage in heavy traffic and easy to get up to speed. But the real advantage was in navigating LA’s six lanes of traffic. Downshifting to change lanes let me keep my momentum and stay with the flow of traffic.
Three doors, a perfect size and great MPG
Yes: three doors. The Veloster features a unique body style with a single door on the driver’s side and two doors on the passenger side. This accommodates a smaller body shape and size but allows seating for 5 (really, 4) in a sporty compact car. Despite its small size, the interior is comfortable and the cabin has an airy feeling; even the smallish back seat has plenty of leg room.
It was a refreshing break from my typical daily drive in an SUV. Its compact size made merging in and out of traffic easy and parking in LA’s many parking structures a simple task.
Getting a nod from car fans definitely makes you feel like a local
Did I mention that LA is a car town? People not only notice your car, they offer a nod of approval and drivers in the same model often give you the hi-sign. Valets grin when when you pull up in a sporty stick shift; you’ve added a little fun to their day.
Even the hotel valet didn’t mind that I didn’t use his services when I parked in the first space next to the valet instead. Parked up front, the Veloster gave the Courtyard Marriott a distinctly cool appeal. A look it gave me all week, too.
What I listened to in the Hyundai Veloster Turbo
LA inspires music, and cars and music go hand in hand. So I really loved hopping into the Veloster and cranking up some of my favorite LA-inspired songs. Here’s what got my adrenaline going during both the long drives and the short ones.
Disclosure: Hyundai provided the Veloster Turbo for my test drive; all opinions expressed are my own.