Road And Track's Performance Car of The Year is a hatchback from Hyundai?!

1w ago


I remember sitting in my college dorm with a series of Post-It Notes as I organized the times from MotorTrend's Best Driver's Car awards, while cross-referencing those numbers with Car and Driver's Lightning Lap numbers. The Fall and Winter seasons are always fun when you're into cars, because all of the big summer projects are finished being edited and there's an auto show every other weekend. Having graduated this past May, my annual ritual never happened, and now I am left reading about the winners instead of guessing them for myself. I digress.

Road and Track's Performance Car Of The Year is the Hyundai Veloster N, a relatively cheap, but relatively powerful hot hatchback. It's times like these where you can almost feel the tension in the Internet, but the Veloster N is definitely a worthy contender, and I think that it kind of deserves to be awarded.

Let's get the basics out of the way, the bread-and-butter performance vehicles can get overwhelmingly boring as they continue to one-up their competition. On the road, they're all incredible machines, but on paper, they leave a lot to be desired.

Let's review the competition, or better yet, I'll review the completion for you.

2020 Corvette Stingray Prototype

- It's a prototype, so it's not allowed to win, because of regulations.

2019 BMW M2 Competition

- It's basically a Supra.

2020 Toyota Supra

- It's basically an M2 Competition.

2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo

- This car peaked when I was in high school...I'm a college grad now.

2020 Lotus Evora GT

- The Toyota Solara's athletic British cousin.

2020 McLaren 600LT Spider

- It's sacrilegeous to speak poorly of any McLaren.

2020 Lexus RCF Track Edition

- RCF drivers are people who wanted a Mustang, but wouldn't be caught dead in something so common.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

- Miata Is Always The Answer, nuff said.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N

- In base form, the Veloster is a worse Tiburon, in N form, it's a proper hot hatchback.

2020 Lamborghini Huracan EVO

- It's an Audi R8 that eats gabagool instead of bratwurst.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera

- The official participation trophy of the 1 percent.

Like every other "Best/Greatest _____ Car" contest, the cars carved up some California canyon roads, drove around a track a couple times, and then everyone yelled at each other a bunch until a winner was declared, at least that's how I think it went.

So how did the Veloster wind up beating these incredible vehicles?

See, the Miata always ends up in competitions like these and I almost feel like that's not fair to the Miata, because it's not trying to be a performance car, as much as it's trying to be a sporty car. Now, if Mazda decided that it wanted to put that 250 horsepower, 2.5-liter turbo in a Miata, then we could be talking about a proper performance car, I digress. The Miata feels out of place.

The Huracan had its moment in the sun back in 2016 when the GT-R Nismo got its last major updates and the Evora should've been replaced by something newer and more powerful. The 911, Supra and Corvette all need to be in this competition for the sake of Road and Track settling the fans, but they don't have to win. The Corvette and the Supra can't win because that's too obvious, and they'll probably win Car of The Year elsewhere, so who cares? I stand by my thoughts of the RCF until I actually get behind the wheel of one and decide that it's more than a gussied up Mustang (in theory, not in execution), and the McLaren is nice, but McLaren doesn't have enough of a shock factor to justify its win. That leaves the M2 and the Veloster, and considering I'm sworn to hate every BMW ever (E60 M5 and 507 excluded) that leaves us with the Veloster N.

It's kind of obvious, in all honesty. The Veloster N offers an exceptional amount of performance, and doesn't carry some high-class badge that puts the Veloster out of the reach of people that actually Road and Track. It's purposed, it's in it's top trim level, and it has enough quirks to fill conversations about, and you can get it in a bunch of interesting colors. Lastly, it's a good performance car from a company that is not known for making exceptional...well…anything.

Hyundai has come a heck of a long way from the Excel, as I've mentioned on numerous occasions, but the Veloster N is something truly incredible. Its crazy three doors, practical hatchback design, and reasonably low price tag create this feeling that it isn't another bland Hyundai product. It's not just a good performance car, it's a good car in general, and I agree with Road and Track's decision.

The Takeaway

We tend to forget about price tags and warranties when it comes to performance cars, but one of the biggest aspects of owning a performance car is having to live with it. The Veloster makes a great case for itself, whether it's going to be a fun weekend runabout for a driver who just needs a stick shift in his life, or a young hooligan who came into a bit of cash, but doesn't want to be like every other Honda or Mustang driver on the road. It just makes sense.

What do you think of Road and Track's decision? Were you surprised by other outlets decisions for their awards? Comment Below!

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Comments (12)
  • I talked my girlfriend into this car. The choice was between this an a new GTI. I've been into autocross for about 15 years now, I'ved owned two different Miatas (NB and NC), several SVT Focuses, a Focus RS and a Honda S2000. I like to think that gives me some platform on which to speak on what makes this car cool to me. For her, I think it was the color, followed by the practicality. I just want to see what it can do on a course. I came away from the few times I've driven it largely impressed, enough so that I found myself on several occasions asking to take her car out on our weekends vs my own car (a '16 GT350)!

    7 days ago
    12 Bumps
  • I like it and I agree with their verdict. You don't need an expensive car to have a lot of fun on the streets. The super fast/expensive cars are entirely underutilized on public roads and incredibly expensive to fix when you bin it at the track.

    8 days ago
    6 Bumps