Week one of the Korean Sojourn ends with a sad note: I had to give back the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. Its willing urge to pull away at 2000 rpm in sixth, the supple and body hugging seats, the better ride than the standard….yes, I liked it. Somewhat unusually nowadays too, it was a head turner, both on the road and in the stationary position. Perhaps the shade of green, Chameleon, had something to do with it…
The numbers under the bonnet tell the story. The powerplant is Hyundai’s new Gamma 1.6 litre four pot, with a twin scroll turbo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbocharger#Twin-scroll) allowing this firecracker to twist out 265 Nm from 1750 to 4500 rpm and delivering peak power of 150kW (both figures more than the 2.5L Mazda6!), at a free revving 6000 rpm. That torque figure is what makes the Veloster so much fun to drive, with that pulling power providing a lot more driveable flexibility with a simple prod of the go pedal. It’s all fired into life from the centre dash mounted start button, below a V shaped console look, housing the touchscreen radio and nav unit. When switched off, the exterior wing mirrors also fold flat.
The six speed manual is a delight, with a short and sharp throw between gears whilst only a modest amount of clutch pressure is required to engage. Although the takeup is smooth the actual engagement of the gear is sudden, with a bit of a jolt resulting. Ratios are closely matched, allowing a near seamless transition from one to the next whilst providing better acceleration. The steering is well weighted, with increased feeling through the wheel the further it’s turned.
The seats are a joy, with the wings and padding combining to house the driver and passenger snugly, comfortably, with minimal adjustment required. A fine grey shade complements the standard black. Just in case you didn’t know that you were in a turbocharged car, the seats are emblazoned with the word. Forward vision is, as expected, fine, however rear and side quarter vision is compromised, providing a few issues at certain roundabouts. The cabin itself is a good place to be although the hard plastics still leave something to be desired. A slick shifting sunroof completes the package.
Handling is almost magnetic, limpet like, with the 18 inch wheels clad in very low profile (40 x 215) licorice. The suspension seems a touch more forgiving than the standard non turbo model but will still jolt out your teeth on some bumps with such a low profile tyre. On the freeway is just a delight, with the short wheelbase allowing quick lane changing when required. Sitting at around 2200 rpm in sixth puts the engine right in the torque band, with legal speeds easily maintained and providing ample opportunity for stress free driving. The stance of the car is purposeful, low slung, aiding the handling whilst, as mentioned, attracting the eye. Being a four door hatchback seems an odd way of describing the Veloster too, but it is and has a decent boot area behind the comfy rear pews. It’s not the prettiest of chariots, to be sure, but that also adds to the allure of the car. The front and rear of the car are unlike any other on the road, with a fluidic and sculptured look. This helps the aerodynamics of the car, with the air flowing around and over nicely, minimising wind noise at speed. LED daytime running lights are bright yet unobtrusive and provide a good spread of night for nighttime running.
It’s rare that A Wheel Thing feels regret at handing back a car to the level felt with this; the flexibility of the engine and the wraparound feel of the seats combine to almost overcome the niggles. Said niggles are liveable however, with the fun factor being put back into the small sports car segment. Against some good competition from the Euro side, the Veloster Turbo shades its non turbo brethren and stacks up well pricewise, with a driveaway price (excluding any special offers) of around $36K. Check it out here: http://www.hyundai.com.au/vehicles/veloster-turbo.