It’s a hatchback with some serious off-road chops

Hyundai has presented an alternative look at the Veloster, one that puts an off-road spin to the otherwise plucky hatchback. The model, called the Veloster Grappler Concept, is sporty, rugged, and can go anywhere your heart desires. It will be presented at the 2019 SEMA Auto Show, but like most concepts that attend SEMA, there’s no indication that the Veloster Grappler, or even a derivative of the concept, will end up in production. All the same, the Veloster Grappler Concept looks like it’s ready to hit the trails. By the looks of it, the concept would make for a great companion in the outdoors.

Exterior

  • Custom livery
  • LED lamps and LED light bar
  • Custom roof rack
  • Brush guards
  • Big tires
  • Optional solar panels
left right

Hyundai’s little hatchback just received an incredible makeover to the extent that I didn’t recognize it as the Veloster at first. Make no mistake, folks. The Veloster isn’t suffering from an identity crisis; it’s showcasing a new level of purpose that many people either didn’t see before or just didn’t know existed.

Visually, the Veloster Grappler Concept maintains most of its Hyundai-penned design aesthetic.

The headlights are the same. The quirky shape of the hatchback remains the same. Even the cuts and body lines are intact. Hyundai didn’t try to alter the Veloster’s physical makeup. What it did was reinvent its purpose with enough new parts and equipment to create a far more versatile vehicle that serves a variety of functions in places where a standard Veloster would have been completely out of its element.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept
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Take the front section of the concept, for example. It benefits from a custom brush guard with new LED lamps attached to it. There’s a rally car feel to it, but the purpose of that new part extends well beyond racing purposes, if at all. The brush guard makes for ideal protection for the engine and those LED lamps that are mighty useful in the outdoors, especially when the sun rises on the other side of the world.

The Veloster’s hood is now made from carbon fiber. Again, it’s a visual upgrade, but form also takes a back seat to function in this regard.

Up top, there’s a Thule roof basket that can carry more gear than what the interior cargo room allows. The basket can also hold a spare tire and it also doubles as a mount for the Goal Zero solar panels in the event you need energy to power your devices. An LED light bar is also attached to the roof basket for reasons that should be clear by now. The rear section also benefits from its own brush guard. Fender flares have also been added to create enough space for the set of large all-terrain tires that the concept sits on. There’s very little use for an off-roader if it doesn’t have the proper tires to go on an adventure. Custom vinyl wraps depicting the Veloster’s “Grappler” nickname serves as the final piece to the exterior puzzle.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept
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It’s easy to look at the Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept and accept it for what it is as a concept. But even if it is labelled as one, the Veloster Grappler does have one important thing going for it. You can look at the concept and see it for what it is, or you can look at it and see the Veloster for what it could turn into. You don’t need Hyundai to release a production model of the concept. You can use it as a baseline to recreate your own. That’s why this concept is headed to SEMA, and that’s why it should get the attention it deserves.

Interior

  • Custom Recaro seats with houndstooth upholstery
  • Crush and ambient lighting
  • Custom switch pattern and Goal Zero portable power station
  • Roll bar
2019 Hyundai Veloster Interior
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Inside, the Grappler comes with everything you need to go camping: a tent, power adapter for the solar panels, first aid kit and roadside repair kit.

It’s also been made more stylish with some custom Recaro seats with houndstooth upholstery, and safer with the use of a roll bar.

Part of being a hatchback means that there’s not enough space inside to create a full-blown makeover that’s equal to what you normally see from bigger models. But Hyundai made do with what’s available in the Veloster’s interior and adjusted accordingly. There are still some vanity upgrades because, well, it’s not a proper SEMA vehicle without those. The custom Recaro seats with stylish houndstooth upholstery count as one. The crush light and ambient lighting are also there for aesthetic reasons. Hyundai also retained the layout of the Veloster’s dashboard, but it did add a custom switch pattern that serves as the control base for all the extra exterior lights the concept is wearing.

There’s also a Goal Zero portable power station that works in concert with the detachable solar panel on the roof to provide electricity for the driver and his passengers. And since we are talking about a SEMA-bound vehicle, it’s a rite of passage for the Veloster Grappler Concept to also feature a new shifter, a new sport pedal, and last but certainly not least, traction mats.

The interior also hosts a lot of important equipment for the outdoors.

There’s a dome tent that can be unfurled outside. There’s also a first aid kit, a road assistance kit, an oversized utility shovel, and a functional roll bar to ensure that even in dire circumstances, the driver and the passengers have enough extra protection to keep themselves safe inside the Veloster Grappler Concept. The same roll bar can also serve as a mounting point for a full-size spare wheel and tire.

There are no photos of the concept’s interior at the moment so the best we can do is imagine what all these upgrades look like from inside the hatchback-turned-off-roader. I appreciate all the safety equipment that Hyundai installed to turn the interior into a hard-nosed cocoon, but I’m more thankful that even with the lack of meaningful space inside the Veloster to create significant aesthetic upgrades, Hyundai still found enough of them to throw in those houndstooth-upholstered Recaro seats.

Drivetrain

  • 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder
  • 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque
  • Seven-speed automatic DCT
  • New Borla cat-back exhaust
  • Suspension lift
2019 Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept
- image 867141

There are no upgrades to the Hyundai Veloster’s engine. In fact, Hyundai doesn’t even mention which version of the Veloster it used as the basis for the Grappler Concept. We’re going to assume that it’s the Veloster Turbo, and if that’s the case, the engine sitting under that carbon fiber hood is a 1.6-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline-four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual and a seven-speed automatic DCT transmission are the available engine options, though I suspect that Hyundai opted for the seven-speed automatic DCT transmission for the Grappler Concept.

It’s the more natural fit for a gearbox for a purpose-built car that’s meant to be driven outdoors.

In any event, the Veloster Turbo with the seven-speed automatic is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.4 seconds. That’s an impressive time for a 200-horsepower hatchback. But that split also doesn’t account for all the extra equipment the Veloster Grappler Concept is carrying. If I’m going to guess, I’d say the Grappler Concept can clock a 0-to-60-mph time in the high seven seconds, possibly around 7.8 seconds.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo specifications
Type Gamma 1.6 Turbo GDI 4-cylinder, DOHC
Materials Aluminum block and head
Bore & Stroke (mm) 77 X 85.4
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Displacement 1.6 liters / 1,591 cc
Horsepower 201 @ 6,000 rpm (est.)
Torque (lb-ft) 195 @ 1,500~4,500 rpm (est.)

in the absence of any meaningful work put into the Veloster’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine, Hyundai did add a Borla cat-back exhaust system that should enhance the noise coming out of the turbo-four powertrain. Hyundai also added a suspension lift to the Grappler Concept, allowing for the installation of the concept’s large and meaty all-terrain tires. Overall, the upgrades in this section are less about giving the Veloster Grappler Concept more power at its disposal than the standard Veloster models.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept
- image 867143
Instead, Hyundai opted to go all-in on the full off-road experience. It’s hard to go against that thought, especially if the returns are as impressive as they are.

I would’ve wanted to see what a Veloster Grappler Concept with a more powerful engine would look like, but Hyundai didn’t build this concept with the explicit intention of racing it until the cows come home to roost. Instead, Hyundai created the Grappler Concept intending to showcase the Veloster in a different light from what we’re used to. Whether that translates to more Velosters heading to custom tuner shops in the near future is unclear, but if Hyundai really wanted to give the Veloster a different identity from what it’s been labelled as since its launch in 2012, the Veloster Grappler Concept was a great way to do it. The essence of the hatchback doesn’t change, but there are enough changes in the car that end with the realization that it’s far more versatile than a lot of people, myself included, gave it credit for.

Final Thoughts

2019 Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept
- image 867098

Who knew that the Hyundai Veloster could turn into something like this? I certainly didn’t, and I’ll wager that I’m not the only one with that sentiment. See, part of being a hatchback is that there is a limit to what it could evolve into when presented with opportunities to do so. It’s not that hard for sedans to become sports cars or sports cars to become luxury cars. But a hatchback that could also serve as an off-road vehicle is a rare sight.

That’s one of the reasons why the Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept caught our attention. Not only does Hyundai succeed in creating a different purpose for the Veloster, but it did so without completely altering the hatchback’s DNA. It still looks like a hatchback, albeit one that’s raised higher to the ground than what we’re used to. But Hyundai also proved that the Grappler Concept is more than just a hatchback now. It’s also an adventure vehicle with serious off-road and performance chops.

  • Leave it
    • No engine upgrades
    • Not exactly a production model
    • It’s a great re-interpretation, but not everyone’s sold on the purpose

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