HYUNDAI has entered the Australian performance car market in earnest with the launch of the aggressively priced Veloster SR Turbo.
The SR Turbo joins the existing naturally aspirated Veloster range, which has led the sportscar sales segment every month since it was launched here in February, kicking off from a lower than expected $31,990 plus on-road costs.
This represents a premium of $3000 over the similarly specified but non-turbocharged Veloster +, the price of which has been increased at the same time by $1000 to $28,990 courtesy of the addition of standard satellite-navigation, while the entry-level Veloster remains unchanged at $23,990.
This sharp starting price puts it firmly in the running against the much-hyped Toyota 86 (from $29,990), as well as undercutting the hot hatch benchmark Volkswagen Golf GTI (three-door priced from $38,990).
Hyundai Australia marketing director Oliver Mann told GoAuto at this week’s media launch that the SR Turbo was an important first step for the brand into the performance market, and pointed to the ‘halo’ effect such a model could have on the rest of the vehicle range.
“It’s a very significant first step for us; clearly there is a market for enthusiasts who we have not had a profile with, and it’s our first chance to address that market,” he said.
“I think there is a broader brand image halo, that general buyers within the market also have an awareness that you are selling a sports vehicle and it adds a level of credibility to the bread and butter product that you might sell to them, that is closer to their needs.
“It’s a signpost for where Hyundai is heading, and a nice showcase for how far the brand has evolved from where it was five or ten years ago.”
Hyundai Australia expects about one-third of its total 450 unit monthly allocation will be comprised of SR Turbos, meaning sales of about 150 units per month.
Power comes from a newly developed, direct-injected twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-litre engine that Hyundai calls the Gamma T-GDI (Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection) producing 150kW of power at 6000rpm and 265Nm of torque between 1750 and 4500 rpm.
This is 46 per cent (47kW) more power and 60 per cent (99Nm) more torque than the non-turbo Veloster models.
The engine is matched to either a six-speed manual gearbox or, for an extra $2000, a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. Both transmissions were developed in-house.
Hyundai cannot offer the slick six-speed dual-clutch DCT transmission from the base Veloster range on the more potent Turbo due to its higher torque output.
The company has not released official 0-100km/h sprint times, but GoAuto understands the company’s own testing yielded figures around 7.0 seconds, placing it squarely among its key rivals.
Fuel economy is claimed to be 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle for the manual, and 7.6L/100km for the auto.
As with the rest of the Veloster range, the SR Turbo features a ‘2+1’ door configuration, with a forward-hinged third door for easier rear-seat access located on the passenger side of the car and a single door on the driver’s side.
This quirky layout means the SR Turbo is poised to contend with sports coupes and hot hatches alike, with other potential rivals including the just-launched Opel Astra GTC Sport (from $34,990) and forthcoming, substantially more powerful Ford Focus ST (from $38,290).
Mr Mann also cited potential rivals including the European-sourced RenaultSport Clio ($36,490) and Citroen DS3 1.6 ($29,990).
Befitting its higher performance levels, the SR Turbo gets larger 300mm front disc brakes (20mm bigger than non-turbo Veloster models), but retains the 262mm solid rear discs from the less-powerful models.
The SR Turbo features recalibrated suspension, revised electric power steering settings and a quicker steering rack (2.78 turns lock to lock) than its non-turbo siblings.
As with the rest of Hyundai’s more recent product – including the i30 and i40 – the Veloster Turbo has also undergone “extensive” suspension tuning and calibration under Australian conditions specifically for the local market.
At the front are MacPherson struts, coil springs, gas shock absorbers and a 24mm stabiliser bar, while a space-saving torsion beam sits at the rear. Performance Sachs dampers are fitted front and rear.
The SR is distinguished from less-powerful Veloster models by its more aggressive grille, round front fog lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels with chrome inserts, side skirts, rear diffuser, rear spoiler and twin exhaust outlets.
The SR Turbo is slightly longer, wider and taller than the non-turbo variants at 4250mm, 1805mm and 1409mm respectively, and around 80kg heavier at 1265kg for the manual and 1305kg for the automatic.
Standard equipment includes a panoramic glass sunroof, leather and leatherette sports seats, and a satellite-navigation system integrated into the seven-inch touchscreen LCD display and including SUNA live traffic, lane guidance, junction views, speed limits, speed warnings, camera alerts and a three-year map plan.
Also included are a rear-view camera, park assist, premium MP3/USB audio system with sub-woofer, tyre pressure monitor, daytime running lights, automatic headlights and push button start.
The Veloster Turbo features six airbags (dual front, side and thorax) plus active safety features such as ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
As with the non-turbo models, the car has received the maximum five-star score from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
It will be available in six colours, including an exclusive Marmalade (“a chameleon colour that changes depending on the visual angle”), Young Gun (a matte finish) and pearl-effect Phantom Black, Veloster Red, Battleship and Storm Trooper White.
As well as launching the SR Turbo and adding satellite-navigation to the Veloster +, all specification grades now also receive a much-needed rear windscreen wiper.