HYUNDAI VELOSTER TURBO REVIEW
Vehicle style: Small sports hatch
Engine: 1.6 litre (with twin-scroll turbo)
Power: 150kW @ 6000rpm | Torque: 265Nm @ 1750-4500rpm
Transmissions: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Fuel consumption (listed combined): 6.8 l/100km (manual); 7.6 l/100km (auto).
Fuel consumption (on test): not recorded
Hyundai's naturally-aspirated Veloster range has been selling up a storm since it arrived here six months ago. But ever since our first drive, we thought it was missing some sparkle in the engine department.
Cue the Veloster SR Turbo.
By cramming a direct-injected, turbocharged and intercooled 1.6 litre inline four behind the Veloster's snout, Hyundai has transformed its quirky three (or is that four?) door from a head-turning hatchback into a proper pocket-rocket.
Priced from $31,990, the highly-specced SR Turbo is also a bit of a bargain. As far as hot hatches go, it delivers plenty of bang for your hard-earned buck.
The Veloster SR Turbo, as the new flagship of the range, gets all the toys enjoyed by the previous range-topper, the Veloster +.
That means such niceties as cruise control, climate control sat-nav, a proximity key, keyless ignition and a gargantuan glass sunroof are all standard.
Add a reversing camera, auto-on headlamps, power folding side mirrors, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone/audio integration and an up-rated sound system to that list of standard kit, and the SR Turbo is very well specced.
There are some omissions though. The driver's seat has power adjustment for the squab only, with a manual backrest.
And the windscreen wipers don't have an auto-on feature, but given the SR Turbo's keen pricing it's hard to complain about those missing luxuries.
There are a few interior differences that tell you you're inside the Turbo.
The dash texture is changed, and trim highlights that are coloured silver in the atmo Veloster are a dark gunmetal tone in the SR Turbo. It looks classier and more mature as a result.
Outside, the changes are more obvious. The front bumper, rear bumper and 18-inch alloys are completely restyled, and a set of deeper side skirts are tacked onto the Veloster's flanks.
A larger spoiler has also been bolted to the SR Turbo's hatch, and the whole ensemble projects an air of sportiness.
While the naturally-aspirated Veloster can sometimes look fussy and melodramatic from certain angles, the SR Turbo's styling is more universally appealing.
ON THE ROAD
To handle the extra urge of its forced-induction motor, the Veloster SR Turbo gets a range of mechanical upgrades.
The brakes are larger, with 20mm larger and 5mm thicker front rotors helping to keep brake fade at bay. The steering rack has a faster ratio than the naturally-aspirated Veloster too, and revised front suspension geometry to improve steering feel.
Hyundai Australia also put in a great deal of effort to tune the suspension for local roads. In broad terms, the Australian-specific dampers are softer under compression and harder under rebound than the cooking-model Veloster.
Stabiliser bars, springs and bushings, however, carry over unchanged.
Hyundai invited TMR to the Gold Coast hinterland for our first taste of the Veloster SR Turbo, where the roads are tight, twisty and more pockmarked than the surface of the moon.
But the Veloster handled it quite well. The extra compliance of the new damper settings helps maintain traction on choppy tarmac, and it feels more planted than the non-turbo Veloster models.
It's a little firm over smaller bumps, but not bone-jarring. Hard launches can create some axle-tramp as well, but it's not as severe as what's been reported in overseas versions of the SR Turbo. We'll credit that to the unique suspension tune.
Steering feel is much improved too, thanks to a unique rack ratio and electric power steering calibration. It's not as communicative and direct as some of the class-leading hot hatches, but it's Hyundai's best effort yet in terms of steering accuracy and feel.
The engine is a delight. Smooth and with plenty of midrange punch, the Veloster's 1.6 litre four produces a very healthy 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque.
It’s capable of launching the SR Turbo to triple-digit speeds in a smidge over seven seconds.
Power peaks at 6000rpm, but more importantly all that torque is available from as low as 1750rpm.
Where the atmo Veloster needs to be thrashed at high revs in low gears, the SR Turbo accomplishes far faster speeds with much less drama.
There's the usual amount of lag that you'd associate with a small-capacity turbo, however the power delivery is fairly linear when the turbocharger starts singing.
It doesn't have the low-down punch of the Polo GTI's twin-charged 1.4, but the Hyundai's 1.6 turbo is still a pretty willing unit.
We tested both the automatic and manual variants at the launch, and our preference by far was the six-speed manual. The shifter is slick through the gate and there's 20-30kg less weight over the front axle, and it's a more involving drive as a result.
By contrast, the six-speed automatic is a bit frustrating. The ratios are well matched to the engine's output, but it has the irritating habit of automatically upshifting at redline when in 'manual' mode.
The shift paddles are a nice feature to have, but the gearchanges aren't quite as snappy as we'd expect for a performance-oriented model. It's definitely no match for the DSG twin-clutch used by the VW Polo GTI and Skoda Fabia RS.
No complaints with the brakes. The larger front rotors act as a larger heatsink, which makes the SR Turbo's brakes more resistant to fade.
Pedal feel is about the same, but while the naturally-aspirated Veloster's brakes quickly reach their heat capacity after just one spirited downhill run, we didn't get the Turbo's stoppers anywhere near their fade threshold.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
We were a bit disappointed with the regular Veloster. It places more emphasis on “show” than “go”, and although it turns plenty of heads, it's lacking in enthusiast appeal.
The SR Turbo changes all that. Our key criticisms of the naturally-aspirated models – braking, steering and power – have all been addressed, and the resulting product is a genuinely fun little thing.
No, the SR Turbo doesn't re-write the rule book on FWD dynamics, nor is it a muscle-bound missile.
What it is, though, is a thoroughly stylish and reasonably practical hot hatch that's got more than enough power to have some fun with.
It also adds some much-needed athleticism to Hyundai's local line-up.
- Veloster - six-speed manual - $23,990
- Veloster - six-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) - $25,990
- Veloster+ - six-speed manual - $28,990
- Veloster+ - six-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) - $30,990
- Veloster SR Turbo - six-speed manual - $31,990
- Veloster SR Turbo - six-speed automatic - $33,990