Car reviews - Hyundai - Veloster - SR Turbo
Outrageous styling, slick manual gearbox, punchy straight-line performance, lengthy features list
Room for improvement
Turbo lag, road noise, jarring suspension, firm seats, poor visibility
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3 Apr 2013
Price and equipment
WHEN the non-turbo Veloster launched in early 2012, Hyundai was aiming straight for young buyers who would be attracted to the outlandish design and low entry price of $23,990.
It sold a bucket load and went on to take the crown as the top-selling sports car under $80,000 in Australia for 2012.
In August last year, the Korean car-maker unleashed the SR Turbo version of the fun-sized coupe for a premium over the non-turbo.
Unlike its atmo sibling, the blown version was said to bring some sizzle with the sausage, or the go to match the show.
And what a looker it is, with the Veloster Turbo getting quite a lot of attention in traffic. One admirer of the coupe even claimed that it looked like something from outer space.
Pricing for the Veloster SR Turbo is $31,990 for the six-speed manual or $33,990 for the automatic, not a bad entry price for a car that screams to be looked at, while delivering solid performance and coming packed with standard gear.
Speaking of, the Veloster Turbo comes with standard goodies such as dusk-sensing headlamps, rear parking assist, daytime running lights, rear camera, push-button start, sat-nav with three years Map Care, a seven-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity.
Over and above the base Veloster, the Turbo also gets electric folding side mirrors that are heated and a panoramic glass sunroof.
At no point did we find ourselves wanting for any additional equipment, so as far as value for money goes, we think Hyundai has it sorted.
AFTER getting in and out of the Veloster Turbo for a week, we noticed how close to the ground the little coupe was, and how much the low roof ate into headroom.
There were a couple of occasions when driving over some of Melbourne’s more uneven roads that your correspondent’s head bumped against the side of the roof which was due in part to the super-stiff suspension (more on that later) but mainly to my head’s proximity to the roof.
Hyundai’s decision to include a third door on the rear passenger side of the car has been a contentious one, but it does provide ease of entry if you do ever need to carry little ones around.
Behind the wheel, the Veloster’s dash layout is very Hyundai, and that is not a bad thing.
There is a bit of a Ford Focus/Fiesta feel to the dash, especially in the centre stack, although it is not quite as early-noughties Nokia mobile phone as the Fiesta.
The Korean giant has come a long way in recent years, focussing on designing logically laid-out and attractive interiors, with vehicles like the Santa Fe SUV and i40 sedan and wagon feeling a lot more premium than the price tags suggest.
While the Veloster Turbo, with its hard-looking dash plastics and faux-chrome highlights throughout the cabin, isn’t quite up to the standard of its stablemates, it does get a big tick for functionality.
As with most Hyundais we have driven recently, the Bluetooth was a breeze to get started and the sound quality for both audio and phone was excellent, while the switchgear was well labelled and easy to use.
The leather/leatherette seats looked the goods but were hard to the touch and they proved to be supportive – to a point. After a couple lengthy stints, we found the firmness of the lower side bolsters gave us slightly sore hips.
Unexpectedly, we loved the feel of the leather manual gearshift lever, although the distance between the gearstick and the centre storage compartment meant that longer-armed drivers (like your gangly correspondent) may find their elbows hitting the storage compartment when changing gears.
Luggage space under the Veloster’s tailgate is 440 litres which we think is more than enough space for a car of this size and similar capacity to some small hatchbacks.
There was poor visibility behind the c-pillar due to the raised shoulder line toward the rear of the car, but it was the view through the rear-view mirror that was more problematic.
The rear window is divided in two parts by a spoiler which makes it hard enough to see, but the vision is distorted thanks to the curvature of the glass which gives the impression that vehicles travelling behind are much closer than they actually are.
Thankfully the seven-inch screen has a very effective reversing camera which is essential in this car.
Engine and transmission
HYUNDAI has fitted a 1.6-litre four cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged engine in the Veloster Turbo that pumps out 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque, making it 47kW more powerful than the standard Veloster.
There is no question the Turbo looks the part with the gaping grille, twin tailpipes and low slung stance, but put your foot down on the alloy accelerator and it doesn’t quite sound like a sports car.
While the note didn’t get our hearts racing, the turbocharged engine in the Veloster had plenty of punch, especially in a straight line.
There is no official zero to 100km/h sprint time available for the Veloster Turbo, but estimates have put it at around the seven second mark which makes it slightly quicker than the Toyota 86 (7.6 seconds) and substantially quicker than one of its other rivals, the Honda CR-Z hybrid (9.7 seconds).
So the in-line performance of the kooky-looking coupe had us smiling, but there was no ignoring the turbo lag.
Hyundai has included a regular six-speed automatic transmission as an option on the Turbo, instead of the dual-clutch unit that is available on the standard Veloster, but the car we tested was fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox.
And what a lovely unit it is. The changes were very direct and the gears fell into place easily, although the clutch was a little light and springy at take-off.
Official fuel economy for the manual Veloster Turbo is 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle which sounds pretty good for a turbocharged sportster.
We couldn’t quite manage those figures, instead getting a much higher 10.5L/100km in the city and 8.8L/100km on a weekend highway cruise.
Ride and handling
CHANGES have been made to the Veloster Turbo’s suspension and steering over its non-turbo sibling to give it a sportier ride.
While this has helped the car is some aspects, to say that the suspension is stiff is like saying that the Grand Canyon is a just a big pothole somewhere in America’s west.
The ride of the Veloster Turbo was so jarring that we felt every single bump, regardless of size or depth and while we know sports cars will always have more rigid suspension than regular cars, we thought this was a bit much.
Move beyond the bumpy ride and you find a car with very direct steering that feels perfectly weighted and gives a real feeling of connection to the road.
Bigger front brakes than the non-turbo version meant confident braking even under pressure but the Veloster Turbo suffered from noticeable road noise, especially at higher speeds.
The Veloster Turbo’s ride is let down in some areas, but handling is not one of them.
We threw the car into a number of tight corners during our test drive and for the most part the Veloster was obedient, and the 18-inch alloy wheels felt firmly planted.
There were a couple of tight corners that provoked some understeer, and the tail skipped about over corrugations. The former is to be expected in a front-driver, and the latter actually added to the fun. Still, its not in the ballpark of the 86.
Despite the obvious road noise, the Veloster Turbo turned out to be a terrific highway cruiser with a quick dash down to the Surf Coast proving to be comfortable while remaining engaging.
Safety and servicing
THE Veloster Turbo comes standard with six airbags, child safety locks on the rear doors and side impact intrusion bars in the doors.
As with the regular Veloster, the Turbo has been awarded a five-star crash safety rating by ANCAP.
The Veloster comes with Hyundai’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped price servicing.
HYUNDAI has got a lot of things right with the Veloster Turbo – attention-grabbing unique three-door design, solid handling, good in-line performance and it is very well specified for the price.
But the elephant in the room has to be the Toyota 86. For $29,990, you can get one of the most awarded and critically acclaimed sports coupes of recent times – if you can handle the long wait to get your hands on one.
On the other hand you can shell out an extra couple of grand and get the Veloster SR Turbo. While we were not super impressed with the Veloster Turbo after our first couple of drives, by the end of our time with the Korean cutie, we had developed a bit of a crush.
Sure it has its flaws (road noise, turbo lag, looking like a bit of a poser), but the Hyundai is quirky enough and enjoyable enough a drive to be seriously considered if you are in the market for a reasonably priced sports coupe.
The Korean car-maker has a big job on its hands convincing buyers to ignore the 86 (or its Subaru BRZ twin) in favour of its crazy-looking coupe, but for those people who want to drive something that is unique and has real character, the Veloster SR Turbo could be the answer.
Toyota 86 from $29,990 plus on-road costs. Undeniable bang for your buck and sublime handling make the 86 hard to beat (the mechanically identical Subaru BRZ from $37,150 is in the same boat).
2. Honda CR-Z from $34,990 plus on-road costs. Hybrid sports car has the sexy looks and great handling, but not as good value as the Veloster Turbo.
3. Opel Astra GTC Sport from $34,990.
Euro contender looks the goods but doesn’t quite have the performance of some of its sportier rivals.
Make and model: Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo
, Engine type: 1.6-litre four cylinder twin scroll turbocharged engine
, Layout: Front-wheel drive
, Power: 150kW
, Torque: 265Nm
, Transmission: Six-speed manual
, 0-100km: N/A – approximately 7.0 seconds
, Fuel consumption: 6.8L/100km
, CO2 rating: 163g/km
, Dimensions: 4250mm long/1805mm wide/1409mm high/2650mm wheelbase
, Weight: 1750kg
, Suspension: Front – McPherson strut/Rear - coupled torsion beam axle
, Steering: Rack and pinion
, Price: $31,990
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