In the 1970s, when Jensen sold Interceptors in respectable numbers, Lotus were an up and coming sports car firm who made things like the Eclat. Not a pretty or delicate design – the Eclat had a big bum and in yellow could be mistaken for a large wedge of Gouda. But it was a stylish and yet practical 2+2 sports car, which is a very desirable combination for anyone who likes cars and has kids.
Today, Lotus is in disarray. But in testing the Hyundai Veloster I may have found a solution to its commercial worries. If Lotus re-badge the Veloster as an all new Lotus Eclat, they will sell it in its drove’s I am sure.
The handling is good enough to pass as Lotus engineering – a precise, direct feel from the steering wheel leaves the driver in no doubt about what the wheels are doing. It’s hard to believe that this car comes from the same firm who made the hopeless-handling ‘Coupe.’
Parked in the City, a banker taking one his 300 cigarette breaks of the day couldn’t help but have a good peer inside and all around the Veloster. It is a head turner. And while it takes the eye some time to adjust to its quirky looks, it gets generally positive feedback.
The fact that it is a five door car, as practical as a family hatch, but passes as a three-door coupe, scores it a lot of points. Inside, the unique shape, combined with the near-panoramic glass roof, creates an appealingly airy, yet compact, feel.
The dashboard and soft-touch trim are straight out of the i30 and i40, which are built as well as a BMW. The light blue dial and Sat Nav screen are fresh and delightful. The seats are firm and comfortable and submarine-like.
That’s not to say it’s perfect. The 1.6 GDI engine struggles to live up to the promise the handling and low seating position create. As a result, the engine has to work a bit harder than it should – you can hear it grinding away at motorway speeds, which is tiring. And it guzzles fuel when driven with any passion at all.
So until the bigger engine is added – which is in the pipeline – the car is a bit compromised. While it may not have quite the guts to really be so, I believe Hyundai may have built a spiritual successor to the Lotus Eclat or even the Jensen Interceptor.
What is the market like?
Hyundais don’t normally depreciate very much, but the good news is that nearly new Velosters, with little more than delivery mileage are selling for 12% -15% off their new retail price.
So there is hope that these will become great used bargains.
A quirky car with a broad appeal. Well made, with excellent handling – it just needs a little more refinement.