Hyundai’s trick three-door coupe gets the forced-induction treatment.
When we drove the Hyundai Veloster in 2011, we said that thanks to its unique three-door set-up, healthy feature list at base and aggressive styling, Hyundai could have a real hot-hatchback champ on its hands that could take the fight to the Honda Civic Si or even the pricier VW Golf GTI.
However, we lamented that it wasn’t quite there thanks to its being slightly underpowered, and surmised that the addition of a turbocharger, perhaps, could be the answer.
Hyundai must agree, because for 2013, they’ve added a turbocharger, new front brakes, new colours both inside and out, new 18-inch wheels, moved the exhaust exits to the middle of the rear valance (new , bigger pipes mean a new, meaner sound) and have slapped a very Porsche-like “Turbo” badge on the rear hatch of the Veloster. Other visual changes include a slightly different front fascia, new foglights, LED-accented headlights and a new front splitter.
The new motor makes a GTI-esque 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, the latter figure a little down on the GTI, but up on the Civic.
Power figures aside, the Veloster weighs less that either model and so should be on par once the dust settles on any given race track or autocross course. And now that we’ve driven it both on the track and the real world, well…
The turbocharger is definitely a great addition. Peak hp is delivered at a fairly heady 6,000 r.p.m., while peak torque comes in at between 1,750 and 4,500 r.p.m., which are slightly saner numbers. However, for some reason, I just didn’t get that feeling you get when the turbo comes on boil, the feeling where you’re pushed into the back of your seat as the turbine spools and fires you down the road.
This, of course, will be a good thing for those who like a calmer power delivery for ease-of-use around town and in less-than-ideal weather. However, I fear that those who have not quite quelled the boy-racer within them may be left wanting a little more attitude, a little more feedback from the engine.
Having said that, once you learn to play within the power band of the Turbo, I’m happy to say that the hunger for more power we felt when we drove the naturally-aspirated version has been reduced from a need for a 10-ounce steak and mashed potatoes, to the need for a quick snack.
What’s interesting about the Veloster Turbo, however, is that it seems more adept at making consistent, smooth forward progress as opposed to quick bursts of acceleration between sharp bends.
The suspension has been left un-changed from non-Turbo cars, which is a good thing because the Veloster’s front MacPherson struts and V-beam rear set-up were stiff enough; glad nothing’s been changed in that department.
What has changed is a tightening of the electric power steering—it’s now got a quicker steering ratio, meaning less turns of the wheel are required to make the car change direction. It worked; the Turbo is keen to change direction, but I would have liked a little more feel through the wheel, which is often hard to achieve—not just by Hyundai, but by manufacturers in general—when using an electronic power-steering system.
The front disc brakes, meanwhile, have been enlarged by 20 millimeters (to 300) in order to provide the stopping power needed to accommodate the new, more aggressive driving style that I’m sure many Veloster Turbo drivers are going to espouse; and they work, too, demonstrated by the time we spent with the Turbo on the track.
The track we tried it on was of the autocross variety, meaning a need for quick acceleration and strong brakes as you come into a series of slalom manoeuvres and tight hairpin turns. Also on display here was the quicker steering rack, as sawing the wheel left and right through the cones was a much more direct affair than I was expecting after driving the older model (although, I would have like them to have had one on hand, just to be able to compare the two side-by-side) .
It was nice to feel the pull and here the whistle of the Turbo as I pulled out of the gates as well—you’re through to 80 kilometers-an-hour before you know it, which is no small feat for a car that starts at under 26 grand.
Which, of course, is the real draw when it comes the Turbo, just as it was with the Veloster; it’s a bargain, really.
With the Turbo, you still get all the great stuff that the Veloster had as standard, such as full-colour display, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth and that trick third door but now, you get a gob of power to go with it, all for a starting price of $25,999. Additions like an auto tranny and Turbo-only matte grey paint will add another $2,250 to that price, but even then, you’re coming in At below the starting MSRP of a Mazdaspeed3 ($29,940), VW GTI ($29,375) and the projected cost of the Ford Focus ST ($29,999).
Look for our full road-test of the Veloster Turbo in the fall.