Veloster Turbo prioritizes easygoing sportiness
A turbocharger is a compressor driven by an engine's exhaust gasses that blasts more air and fuel into the combustion chambers to create more power. Using a turbocharger to make a little engine perform like a big one is one of the oldest go-fast tricks in the book.
In Hyundai’s new Veloster Turbo, heavy throttle application gets its turbocharger spinning away within a half-second or so, after which point a torque-rich forward surge of momentum blasts the little three-door along in a delightful hurry.
The Veloster Turbo
Numbers? The standard Veloster uses a 1.6L direct-injected engine to make 138 horsepower. Adequate. The addition of a turbocharger on the latest Veloster variant bumps output up to 201. Fun.
Wrap that output in a compact body that’s lighter than a Honda Civic Si or Volkswagen GTI, and you’ve got what Hyundai promises to be a fun little ride.
Veloster Turbo looks the part of an entertaining little beastie, too. Admittedly, the strangely-sculpted fascia has a number of vents and flaps and a massive, droopy mouth like a plecostomus. But the side skirts, rear bumper diffuser and projector lights with LED accents leave little doubt that this machine aims to entertain.
And, like the Tiburon before it, this is one of the segment’s most instantly recognizable uses of energetic design, unconventional looks and mandatory boy-racer visual cues. It’s a fun car to look at.
Don’t miss the dual, centre-mounted exhausts (à la late-nineties Dodge Viper), or the ‘Turbo’ badge on the trunk and seats. Both ensure recognition of your investment in motoring fun from the local car crowd.
You can even order your Veloster Turbo with non-reflective matte paint, which is becoming all the rage with rich folks and rap video producers.
It’s functional, too. The third door makes rear-seat access easier. Trunk space is adequate, and the cockpit is jammed with at-hand storage and power outlets. A slick looking navitainment screen, color-keyed grab handles on the doors and a punchy stereo round out the package.
Headroom will be tight for vertically gifted drivers, though ultimately, Veloster Turbo’s cabin is a sporty, functional and upscale place to be.
The overall driving experience is a mixed bag. The strong, clean, full-throttle rush to redline is a treat. So is the robust hum from the engine room, and the piles of torque that arrive by 2,000 rpm. Downshifting will typically prove optional for passing and merging maneuvers. Often, it feels remarkable for a 1.6L engine.
Brakes are another plus. They engage abruptly and with authority – and pedal feel and precision create confidence in Veloster Turbo’s ability to ditch forward momentum in a hurry.
So accelerating and decelerating will leave virtually any driver with a smile on their face. But, given the looks and power output, your writer, who was raised on mid-nineties sports compacts, wanted this little Korean rocket-hatch to be a bit more hardcore.
The factory Kumho Solus tires mounted to the business end of the Veloster Turbo’s revised suspension delivered a loosely locked-down dynamic when pushed in an autocross course, and during emergency maneuvers at speed. The precise brakes help drivers shift weight on and off of the front axle easily and smoothly as needed.
The overall result is handling that’s slippery around its limits, and no apologies made for a little under or oversteer. The slipperiness mostly keeps things lively and entertaining – though at the expense of all-out precision.
Additionally, the steering and suspension are both soft around the edges and prioritize a relaxed driving feel and good ride quality over all-out accuracy and lightning reflexes. It’s easygoing first, responsive second.
Throttle and clutch calibrations, too. The latter holds power well for hard launching, though it’s moderately vague and lacks bite. And the electronic throttle smoothes driver inputs and reacts slowly, and only after a brief pause. So, forget heel-and-toe shifting or downshift rev matching unless you’re willing to be patient.
Refinement first, reflexes second
All the softness dialed in works towards smooth, manageable power delivery and a refined driving experience. It also makes it easy to drive the stick shift equipped model smoothly, even if you haven’t handled a shifter and clutch in years.
So, Veloster Turbo isn’t a twitchy, high-strung, ultra-precise sports car. For some, that’s ideal. Most drivers won’t mind the calibrations, but big-time driving enthusiasts will wish for more instant reactions to their commands.
End of the day, the stand-out reasons to check out the Veloster Turbo will be styling, pricing, functionality, utility, and the zippy performance. Uniqueness and standout looks are big here, too. Veloster Turbo also promises great fuel mileage, thanks to direct injection, standard six-speed transmissions and light weight.
Those after a sporty car that’s easy and relaxed in day-to-day driving will gravitate towards the Veloster Turbo after a test drive. Those after an instant, razor-sharp weapon with cat-like reflexes, or something for weekend track days, may not.
Pricing starts at $26,000 for a very well-equipped model with six-speed manual, and units are arriving at dealer lots now.
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