The Hyundai Veloster Turbo is a properly stunning car. We like the Veloster, more so the butcher Sport version, but it looks born to be the Turbo. Rather than the standard narrow intake above the Hyundai badge and a larger one beneath, the Turbo boasts one big, Audi-inspired grille and I love the way it accentuates how the bodywork sweeps up under the headlights, Aston Martin One-77-style. The rest of the front is more aggressive too, with a little chin spoiler and sharper styling around the fog lights. When you see it in a rear-view mirror, LED daytime running lights ablaze, it looks like a mini Nissan GT-R.
Read our coverage of the new Veloster here
At the back your eyes are drawn to the two huge exhaust trims, and with the scalloping around the tail lights and the new diffuser, the whole rear seems to taper in and hunker down. There’s a red ‘Turbo’ badge too, 18in wheels, and the new option of matt grey paint. It’s an amazing finish; I’ve no idea what it’s actually like to live with and clean seagull poo from, but if you want something similar on a BMW M3 it’ll cost you £1790, and on a Merc SL63 AMG it’s £1255. Yet on the Veloster Turbo it’s a paltry £525. It’s either that, no-cost white, or £445 pearl black. I’d take the matt grey and fuss over it like a doting grandma.
What extra kit do you get in return plumping for a Veloster Turbo?
Fancy paint aside, the Turbo is £21,995, £1495 more than the Sport, and for that extra outlay you get the bodykit, plus an electric driver’s seat, a rear-view camera, an upgraded stereo and a touchscreen sat-nav, on top of the Sport’s leather, cruise control, Bluetooth, heated front seats, parking sensors, five-year warranty and well-built, well-trimmed and attractively angular interior.
And how much faster is a Turbo over a normal Veloster?
The big difference between the Veloster Sport and Veloster Turbo is the addition of… can you guess?… a turbocharger. The twin-scroll unit pushes up the weedy outputs of the 1.6 from 138bhp and 123lb ft to 184bhp and 195lb ft. The 0-62mph time drops by 1.3 seconds, but it feels like more because there’s 59% more torque. And it’s all there from 1500-4500rpm, rather than at the naturally aspirated engine’s 4850rpm peak. There could have been more bhp – and in the USA the Veloster Turbo has 201bhp – but for Europe Hyundai’s engineers have retuned the engine to deliver more low-range overtaking oomph.
Read our coverage of the new Veloster here
It’s not super-quick – and for the same price you can have an equipment-sparse but 63bhp gruntier Ford Focus ST – but it is much faster than a regular Veloster. In the base model you’re constantly pinning the throttle and chasing 6000rpm over and over but not really making any progress; in the Turbo you use a strong slug of torque from 3000 to 5000rpm, upshift before the redline, and it’s a quicker but more relaxed driving experience because of it.
There’s a little hint of the power going through the front wheels in first and second gear, the steering wheel tugging oh-so-gently left and right, but it’s not an unruly torque steerer like a Mini Cooper S. And nor is it as concretely sprung as BMW’s little British baby. The Turbo features stiffer dampers than the normal Veloster, and there’s a hint of firmness, but overall it feels built for British roads – compact, compliant, keen and agile.
The rest of the Turbo feels tight, too. The electric power steering has been tinkered with, and while it’s still light to ease parking, it’s much weightier and more consistent at speed than in the standard Veloster we tested back-to-back. The gearbox is snappy too, and although the Turbo doesn’t have the grip levels of a Vauxhall Astra GTC shod with huge 19in or 20in wheels, that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting. On the back roads that wind out from CAR HQ you can get into a wonderful flowing rhythm at a fast pace. Great fun.
So, any downsides?
The panoramic roof (a £950 extra, and one of the few options) robs you of 45mm of headroom, and the electric gubbins in the driver’s seat means you sit higher than in the standard Veloster too. Roll the roof blind back and there’s a little extra space, but even the shorter members of the CAR team commented that you perch a little too far from the floor. And if you’re tall and sit in the back, be careful that the glass part of the hatchback boot doesn’t get shut on your head – the warning sticker says Hyundai’s engineers found out the hard way.
And how’s the Veloster Turbo’s practicality?
Don’t dismiss the Veloster because of its weirdly asymmetrical ‘1+2’ door arrangement (one door on the driver’s side, two on the passenger’s). It actually makes logical sense. I initially cursed the lack of access behind the driver’s seat, only to have a Homer Simpson-style ‘D’oh!’ moment, before going around to the other side, the kerb side, and using the rear door to easily get in. Also, Hyundai, unlike Mini with its Clubman, switches the layout for left- and right-hand drive. And if practicality isn’t cool then approach the Veloster from the driver’s side and only the odd number of electric window switches will hint that it’s not a proper two-door coupe.
In short, we love it. It’s a rung above a Suzuki Swift Sport, a rung below proper hot hatches like the VW Golf GTI, but if you get caught up trying to really pigeonhole where it belongs you’ll simply overlook that this is a cracking little performance car. It’s well sorted, well rounded, composed and comfortable like a mini GT, packed with kit, gorgeous to behold, and fast enough to have fun in.