Car reviews - Hyundai - Veloster - range
Holding its style and panache well, seven-speed dual-clutch a good device, lots of spec for the dough
Room for improvement
Lack of aural theatre, could use more oomph, rear wing ruins rear vision
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21 May 2015
By TIM ROBSON
IT’S hard to keep the sales of sportscars up year after year. Once the honeymoon glow has worn off and the motoring media has moved onto its next darling, sales inexorably start to dip as the months and years roll on.
Hyundai’s Veloster has, by and large, held its ground during its three years on sale, though. It notched up 3405 sales in 2014, a 13.3 per cent drop over the 3928 it enjoyed in 2013. Its best year – 4107 units in 2012 – was only three per cent better than 2013’s total, though, showing that the Veloster could hold its ground.
Whether Hyundai Motor Company will keep the Veloster going looking forward is anyone’s guess. Its performance in its home market isn’t stunning, while it’s showing signs of slowing in the United States, as well. It may explain why the mid-life refresh is mild at best, with just a grille garnish and new rims to show for itself on the outside.
HMCA’s hard-won ability to take the base Korean product and tune it for local tastes has been put back into play, though, with further refinement of what is already a pretty good base product.
With wider – and heavier – 225/40 R 18 tyres fitted to the Series II, the HMCA crew took the opportunity to revisit the front-end set-up to fine-tune it. The hefty 24mm-diameter front rollbar – a very typical front-wheel drive tuning trick – was banished in favour of a smaller diameter version – 21mm for the naturally aspirated cars and 22mm for the turbos – a slightly stiffer front spring rate and re-valved dampers.
The rear torsion beam set-up has largely been left alone, though the dampers were re-valved to match the front.
The electric steering system also came in for a re-tune, after a much more sophisticated 24-bit controller unit was fitted to replace the 16-bit unit previously installed in the car.
Buyers can also option Hyundai’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for the turbo pairing at least, while the nat-atmo cars stay with the six-speed auto.
As far as mechanical upgrades, go, though, that’s pretty much the sum of it.
HMCA has added a second turbocharged model to the range, shuffling the previous range-topper up a little and fitting the SR Turbo in just $500 above the naturally-aspirated Plus.
Starting at $29,990, plus on-roads for the six-speed manual version, the new SR Turbo really is the sweet spot of the range. It misses out on a few of the niceties of the Plus – and the SR Turbo Plus, for that matter – but there’s still plenty of stuff to get excited about on the showroom floor.
The Veloster’s striking visuals have always garnered it a second glance, and it still works even three years on. Its interior, too, takes the best elements from the brand’s vast range of small and medium machines, resulting in a package that’s sporty yet still practical. From the front seats at least…The unusual two-plus-one door arrangement works to a point, but the rear kerb-side door is just too small for easy entry and exit. Once you get in there, the rear is a cramped proposition, made worse if the extra large sunroof is fitted. Kids, too, may feel hemmed in by the coupe’s high-waisted sides and narrow windows.
From the driver’s seat, the mid-mounted rear wing dissects the view out of the rear window, which is frankly pretty annoying. Get settled in the car, and the thick-rimmed wheel and heavily bolstered seats lend the Veloster a sporty essence. The new 7.0-inch screen is a nice addition, and Bluetooth connection is done in three button presses.
Firing up the SR Turbo does underline the car’s intentions – or rather, the lack of them. There’s a bit of an edge to the exhaust note thanks to large-diameter twin exhausts, but it doesn’t make its way into the cabin even when pressing on a bit.
It’s a shame, really there’s nothing wrong with a bit of theatre in a car that looks like this, even if it has to be piped into the car by artificial means.
Its performance, too, is warmed through rather than piping hot. The 1200kg coupe has a handy 150kW and 265Nm to motivate it, and its handling package is very well resolved, with light but usefully feelsome steering and a stable chassis feel that responds to commands to adjust its attitude via the loud pedal.
It does lack an edge, though, there’s no doubt about it. Granted, it’s not painted as a hot hatch rival, and for the money it’s stuffed to the gills with good gear.
You’re just left wanting a little bit more when it comes to resolving that contemporary body styling with what lies underneath.
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