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Hyundai launches touchscreen-equipped Veloster coupe

Funky new coupe is with 7in touchscreen has social networking and media playback capabilities.

There are a lot of very clever cars at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, but much of that technology is tucked away out of sight. Hyundai’s Veloster may not be the latest thing in electric-engine design, but this petrol-driven runabout does come with a 7in touchscreen as standard.

Aimed at the younger car buyer, the 1.6 litre Veloster is a coupe with a dash of sports utility added – though we can’t say it’s entirely to our tastes admittedly. What we do like is how much thought Hyundai have put into the in-car technology – all centred around that LG-built capacitative touchscreen.

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The Veloster is designed to act as a social hub for bright young things who are out and about. Connect the car to your mobile phone via Bluetooth and it opens up a wide range of communication options. It provides onscreen location sharing with your friends, so you can see where they are and vice-versa – we’re not certain what service this uses, but it appeared very similar to Google’s Latitude.

Also via Bluetooth you get onscreen text messaging, with a layout stolen directly from the iPhone. The car will read out text messages to you, and let you reply via voice recognition, so you can text while you drive without risking an accident.

The USB connection provides media playback. Hyundai could only confirm support for MPEG4 and AVI file types, though there may be more, alongside MP3 audio and JPEG image slideshows. In addition there’s an AV input so you can hook up external video and audio devices for playback on the screen and through the stereo system. Combine this with the optional power socket, and you could equip you car with a video games console.

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Music playback also benefits from a range of clever technologies. You get Gracenote track information and album covers – again via a connected smartphone. You can also load up to 10 CDs into a virtual jukebox, and play them back through the head unit. The car also supports Pandora internet radio via your smartphone. There’s the usual iPod dock and minijack audio input of course; as standard you get a 196W stereo system with six speakers, with a 450W optional system available.

You may well argue that many cars have touchscreen these days, and you’d be right, but they are almost always expensive extras, or on very expensive cars. The Veloster by comparison is relatively cheap and cheerful, though no UK pricing or release date has been announced yet, and so paves the way for this kind of in-car technology becoming standard.

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