Detroit - Hyundai's highlight of the 2018 North American International Auto Show was the world debut of the second-generation Veloster, which includes a 205kW high-performance N model.

Korea’s sporty coupe features a major exterior and interior redesign, powertrain enhancements, and a raft of new infotainment and connectivity features.

The car retains its oddball two-plus-one asymmetrical door setup, but gets a major styling upgrade to give it a more striking appearance. Along with a reshaped grille and new front and rear lights (optionally available as LEDs), the A-pillar has been moved back to make the bonnet look longer, and the stance is more muscular thanks to pumped-out wheel arches for a more planted appearance. 

The roofline has been lowered for a sleeker look, and the rear now has a more aggressive integrated diffuser design. 

The asymmetrical design carries through to the interior, with a driver-focused cockpit layout that on the Turbo Ultimate version includes a contrasting colour environment.

Engines start with the existing normally-aspirated 2-litre petrol with outputs of 110kW and 179Nm, and a 1.6 turbo petrol pushing out 150kW and 265Nm; both paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT). 

Veloster Turbo models feature Active Sound Design which enhances the intake and exhaust sound inside the cabin for a more visceral driving experience. Turbo models also offer three selectable driving modes - Normal, Sport and Smart -  that adjust the engine, transmission and steering feel.

Helping to give the Veloster pinned-down handling is  Torque Vectoring Control (TVC) which applies braking to the inside front wheel during spirited cornering and redirects power to the outside front wheel, reducing wheelspin improving corner-exit acceleration.

The Veloster Turbo features a quicker-ratio steering rack and a revised steering, which gives drivers precise cornering, feedback and control.

But the exciting news is the introduction of a 2-litre petrol turbo version from Hyundai’s recently-established N division. Along with 205kW the Veloster N gets a burly 352Nm of torque, and while Hyundai doesn’t quote any performance figures that kind of power output should muster a 0-100km/h sprint in around the five-second mark.

The high performance engine is backed up by a close-ratio, short-throw six-speed manual transmission with downshift rev-matching capability. The car features upgraded brakes and suspension, with high-tech grip assistance provided by electronically-controlled suspension with a track-focused N mode, and an electronically-controlled N Corner-Carving Limited-slip Differential. 

Advanced active safety features on the Korean coupe range includes standard Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), which uses the car’s front-facing camera to detect an imminent collision and brake autonomously. Three additional systems also utilize the front-view camera to boost safety and convenience: Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), High Beam Assist (HBA) for the optional LED headlights, and Driver Attention Warning (DAW) which detects driver fatigue.

Updated infotainment includes a  colour touchscreen, with the premium system offering advanced connectivity features including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Also available are Head-Up Display system and smartphone wireless charging.

The new Veloster begins production in March but Hyundai South Africa hasn’t yet made a decision on whether it will be available locally. The first-generation Veloster, now all sold out, has been a niche seller since its launch here in 2012.