Hyundai’s three-door coupe – the Veloster – might be a bit of a gamble for the South Korean automaker. But, when you’re on a winning streak and the cards all seem to be on your side, bet up. Riding a wave of automotive success in recent years, Hyundai introduces the 2012 Veloster, a radical departure from the traditional two-door coupe. The Veloster has two front doors, but only one – a hidden door on the passenger side – for those who want to get in the back seat.

Much more than an oddity, however, this coupe-on-the-left and sedan-on-the-right is a functional but sporty ride that delivers relatively spirited performance and, best of all, 40 miles per gallon on the highway with the 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed EcoShift dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters is optional. Hmm. If 40 mpg, sporty looks and functionality don’t win you over, what will? How about the Veloster’s (manual transmission) sticker price of $17,300?

The Veloster is powered by a 1.6-liter GDI Gamma engine that kicks out 138 horsepower and 123 lb.-ft. of torque. And yes, the sporty Veloster looks like it should go faster than it does. But with power comes a thirst for gasoline. When you give it the gas and not much happens in the mid-gears, just keep telling yourself “40 mpg…40 mpg…40 mpg” and ease right by the gas station.

Now as for that third door, how many times have you hopped in the driver’s

seat of your coupe, forgetting that two people still need to get in the back seat?

You might as well get on out because they aren’t going to be able to squeeze behind you to reach the back seat. So why do you need that door on the driver’s side?

Now you have an excuse to keep your seat: “Sorry, no door on this side, you’ll have to go around.” And when your passengers finish cussing you as they walk around to the other side, they’ll forgive you when they get in and realize that there really is some room in the back seat and it isn’t so bad on short trips.

Inside the cabin, the center stack and controls resemble a motorcycle’s fuel tank. In fact, Hyundai says the exterior design was inspired by a high-performance sport bike. There are lots of metallic accents throughout the cabin.

We did not major in math, and in fact we hated math in school. But for all you math majors out there, the number three, as in the three-door Veloster, is the first odd prime number.

Did you know that if the sum of the

digits in any number are divisible by three, then that number will be divisible by three? Try it.

Turns out, the number three is pretty cool.

So is the 2012 Hyundai Veloster.

Statistics

Engine: 1.6-liter GDI 4-cylinder

Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual clutch with paddle shifters

Horsepower: 138

Test model base price: $17,395

EPA mileage ratings: 28 mpg city / 40 mpg highway /32 mpg combined