Hyundai brings trendy dull paint to an affordable car, but is that a good thing?
After decades of giant leaps forward in auto paint and finish technology, we may be taking a few steps backward in the name of cool.
I'm talking about matte finishes. Matte is a dull or flat finish as opposed to a shiny one.
I think it looks like someone applied a primer coat, then forgot the glossy top and clear coats.
But in some circles, it’s a very trendy look.
Until now, matte finishes have been available only on high-end luxury rides such as the Audi R8 GT Spyder or M Series BMW.
(Well, those were the only kind of cars and SUVs that came from the factory with a matte finish. You could always spend thousands of dollars to have any car or truck repainted that way.)
But now Hyundai is bringing a factory matte finish to everyman. Anyone with $23,725 can have a new Veloster Turbo in Matte Gray.
The optional flat-finish paint represents a grand of that total.
Will someone pay $1,000 extra to drive a car that looks like it has half of a paint job? (Go to our Facebook page to vote in our poll: "Matte finishes: cool or lame?")
According to Brandon Ramirez, Hyundai's senior group manager for product planning, the answer is “yes.”
He told me Hyundai is marketing the Veloster Turbo as a high-image car at an affordable price.
"Usually you only see matte finish paints on premium models," he said. "Matte Gray makes perfect sense for the Veloster Turbo as a halo car."
Opinions are mixed as to whether a matte finish requires more or less care.
In either case, the care is trickier.
Sufficiently tricky, in fact, that Hyundai is including a $200 care kit from Dr. Beasley's at no extra cost with every Matte Gray Veloster Turbo it sells.
I spoke with Andrew Donovan at the Chicago-based Internet retailer Dr. Beasley's to get the lowdown.
It didn't surprise me that he falls on the "matte finishes require less care" side of the fence.
He said it certainly doesn't require any more effort to maintain than a glossy finish.
I suspect that is true for people who are already taking proper care of the glossy finish on their car.
Most people don't, but a glossy finish is more forgiving than a matte finish.
Donovan explained that all cars should be hand-washed, but it's an imperative for matte finishes.
Not only can't you run them through a corner car wash, but, because most over-the-counter hand-wash soaps will also harm the finish, you won't be letting the local high school band wash it at their fund-raiser either.
Such cleaners can contain fillers of some kind that will eventually give the surface a shine. And shine is the enemy of a matte finish.
There are cleaners specifically formulated to gently remove dirt and grime from a matte finish, such as the one Dr. Beasley's sells for $50 for a 32-ounce bottle.
The good news: Because of the whole shinny-is-bad thing, you can say good-bye to spending hours on Saturday afternoon under a shade tree paste-waxing your heap.
Two or three times a year, however, you do need to seal the finish after washing it.
This requires a product like Dr. Beasley's Matte Paint Sealant, retailing at $80 for 4 ounces.
Happily, a little bit of this stuff goes a long way. Donovan said the 4-ounce bottle that comes with the car is enough for four applications.
Oh, but before you apply the sealer, you'll need to prep the surface with something like Dr. Beasley's Matte Paint Cleanser that retails at $40 for a 12-ounce bottle.
All of these ingredients come in Veloster's kit along with a 5-gallon bucket with a grit guard, as well as microfiber towels, soft wash pads, applicators for the sealant and more.
But at some point you're going to have to replace this stuff and it adds up.
I don't know about you, but regular old shiny black is sounding pretty good.