At NAIAS 2011, Hyundai wheeled out its unique Veloster coupe that brings with it many firsts for the marque. The affordable coupe has three doors and comes with Hyundai’s first dual-clutch transmission, for instance.

Like the VW Scirocco and Renault Megane Coupe, the Veloster is a two-door hatchback/coupe type of car with a rear hatch. But the much touted “third door” isn’t the rear hatch, but a conventionally hinged door on the passenger side, which Hyundai says provide safe and ready access to the rear seats.

Unlike in the Mazda RX-8, the Veloster’s rear door is only on the passenger side, and can open independently without first opening the front door. The handle is hidden Alfa 147-style.

In terms of size, the Veloster is 4,218 mm long and 1,790 mm wide, which is 138 mm longer and 50 mm wider than the Honda CR-Z. It has quite a long wheelbase of 2,649 mm. Hyundai says that the Veloster has more cabin volume than the CR-Z, Scion tC and Mini Clubman. Weight is 1,172 kg.

Apparently, the cabin is sport bike inspired. The center stack is supposed to resemble the fuel tank, the air vents are tailpipes, while the floor console mirrors the seats of a bike. I can’t really see that link, but it’s a funky dashboard nevertheless. All the lines seem to point to the push button starter, which isn’t hidden in some dark corner, but proudly placed in the centre stack – Ultraman style.

Powering the Veloster is a 1.6 Gamma engine with direct injection, the smallest Hyundai engine to use GDI. Equipped with Dual-CVVT, it produces a strong 138 hp at 6,300 rpm and 167 Nm at 4,850 rpm. That’s 86.3 horsepower per litre, which Hyundai says is best in class. Another figure they’re proud of is 40 mpg, or 14.2 km/l economy on the highway.

The Gamma’s drivetrain accomplices are six-speed transmissions, manual or dual-clutch. The all new DCT is developed by Hyundai and gains 5-6% improvement in fuel efficiency as well as 3-7% improvement in acceleration compared to a torque converter auto. The Veloster has an Active Eco mode which modifies engine and transmission control for “more than a seven percent improvement in real-world fuel economy”.

Suspension wise, it’s a McPherson strut front suspension and a light-weight V-torsion beam for the rear, the latter with an integrated 23 mm stabilizer bar to allow bracing of the arms for greater stiffness. Steering is EPS, and turning circle is best in class. The standard tyres are 215/45 R17s, but 18-inch alloys (with painted inserts) are available with 215/40 performance rubber.

Gallery and a video is after the jump.

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