HYUNDAI’S QUIRKY LITTLE VELOSTER HAS WON HEARTS FOR ITS INDIVIDUAL ‘THREE-DOOR’ COUPE STYLING AND APPEALING PERSONALITY.
And the 2016 SR Turbo+ Coupe we're testing here has the snappy sports performance to match its snappy lines.
The well-finished and well-featured interior continues to impress, as does the sense of quality that is now becoming a hallmark of Hyundai products.
Not so good is the dual-clutch auto, it is definitely not one of the best we’ve sampled, neither is the $36k-plus asking price. It is priced a little above the mark against a very competitively priced Mazda MX-5 and a similarly competitive Toyota 86.
Vehicle style: Three-door Sports Coupe
Price: $36,490 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/transmission: 150kW/265Nm 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol | seven-speed DCT automatic.
Fuel consumption claimed: 7.1 l/100km | tested: 8.4 l/100km.
This is the second Veloster in which I’ve spent a week preparing a review.
The first was back in 2012 when the striking little coupe made its Australian debut. Back then, people – mostly women – stopped me to ask what the car was, and what it was like. It wasn’t my good looks that attracted their attention.
Since then, the little Hyundai has become one of Australia’s best-selling sports cars. With its blend of sharp pricing, charm, practicality (for a sports car) and build quality, it’s little wonder it’s won more than a few hearts.
The original Veloster however lacked ‘get-up-and-go’, it needed a turbocharger. And with the SR tested here, it’s got it.
Key features and equipment:
- Seven-inch touchscreen with sat-nav (HERE MapCare), CD player, MP3 functionality
- Premium four-speaker audio, AUX/USB input, iPod compatibility
- Bluetooth connectivity (hands-free phone and audio streaming)
- Rear-vision camera, rear parking assist
- Cruise control
- Proximity smart key with push-button start
- Climate-control air-conditioning
- Electric adjustment (driver's seat); ventilated and heated front seats
- Panoramic glass sunroof
Quality: For quality at a reasonable price, take a look at the Veloster’s interior. Surface textures generally have an appealing look and feel, and, for the driver, the ergonomics are excellent with everything within easy, natural reach.
Plastic trim is more than compensated for by the quality leather seats. In our tester, the blue/black combination of the upholstery (with blue stitching) really looked the part.
The rear-seat passengers also have more-than-usual bolstering and even with the front seats right back, there is more legroom than you’ll find in a lot of the hot-hatch brigade, such as in the Mini. Because of the sloping coupe-like roof line, getting into the back seat is a bit of a chore for taller occupants and the chances of scalping are quite real when entering via the unusual third door. Sensibly – and for added safety – it is on the kerb side.
Once seated, this 185cm reviewer was actually surprised that his head didn’t touch the ceiling.
Storage: There is 320 litres of cargo space with a luggage net and net hook and the seat backs have a 60/40 split.
Other storage cubby holes include a roof-mounted sunglasses holder, two front and two rear cup-holders, front-door bottle holders, front map-pockets in the doors, a passenger’s side seat-back pocket (they must have forgotten the driver’s side one), a good-sized illuminated glove box, a handy deep open bin beneath the centre stack and a two-decker bin beneath the padded front-seat centre armrest.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre DOHC turbo-petrol | seven-speed DCT automatic.
- Power/torque: 150kW/265Nm
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front end, torsion-beam rear axle.
- Brakes: front - 300mm ventilated discs; rear - 262mm solid discs.
- Wheels/tyres: 18-inch alloys, Hankook Ventus Prime 2 225/40/R18 rubber.
Driveability: The Veloster, when it was launched nearly four years ago, took many by surprise. It is a better drive than nearly anyone expected.
With the turbo providing the goods under the bonnet, it is now more than just a quirky toy. A wheel at each corner, and with 150kW and 265Nm providing the urge, it has a handy turn of speed and doesn’t half mind a jab around a winding road.
However, despite being redlined at 6750rpm, there’s not much point taking the engine past 5500rpm. If you do, it quickly runs out of puff.
There is also some turbo lag at step off and the dual-clutch transmission is not the slickest around.
That said, I enjoy steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles and the Veloster has them on its playground menu. Changes, though, are a bit slow and not up to the mark when things get hectic.
One negative – and it’s common with a lot of coupe-styled cars – is limited rear visibility, compounded by a significant blind spot for the driver at the sloping C-pillar.
Refinement: There is some intrusion from road noise, but not greatly offensive and in keeping with the sports rubber down below.
The SR Turbo + runs wide sexy-looking alloy wheels shod with Hankook Ventus Prime 2 225/40/R18 rubber.
The SR Turbo + version we tested also has what Hyundai calls ‘Flex Steer’, with three driver settings: Normal, Comfort and Sport. It’s a bit of a gimmick and doesn’t really do much other than add weight to the steering feel in ‘Sport’.
Ride and handling: In tuning the Veloster’s chassis for Australian conditions, the local Hyundai engineering team evaluated 49 spring, sway bar and damper combinations.
The result is a slightly softer set-up than the previous version and while the ride is more comfortable, there is a tad more body roll.
But while the suspension lacks a little in sophistication, it doesn’t handle like a well-sorted Euro hatch, it does most things pretty right.
Like all front-wheel-driver cars, if you push the Veloster too hard into a corner it will understeer but the threshold between turn-in and understeer is impressively high and overall, cornering performance is poised and confident.
The traction control however is very intrusive and allows very little ‘free play’ or lateral movement for the driver wanting to explore its capabilities.
Braking: Stopping power comes from 300mm ventilated discs at the front and 262mm solid discs at the rear.
In the (relatively) light Veloster, we experienced no fade nor loss of performance when put under a bit of pressure, and the pedal has a light but easily modulated feel.
ANCAP: The Veloster carries a 5-Star ANCAP rating, with a score of 35.47 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: traction-and-stability control, ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake-assist, hill-start-assist, six airbags, hill-start assist, tyre pressure monitoring, LED daytime running lights, automatic dusk-sensing headlights, LED high-mount stop lamp, and LED side repeater integrated into side mirrors,
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years unlimited kilometres; complimentary roadside-assist for 12 months and there is a 1500km complimentary first service.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Being a cross between a sports car and a hot hatch, the Veloster, in some ways, creates its own sub-category. But, compared to these competitors (below), the $36,490 Veloster Turbo+ is getting pretty pricey, notwithstanding features like the panoramic sunroof.
Its MINI-like three-door (four with the hatch lid) sets it apart but, in reality, its competitors include both true sports cars and hot hatches.
Volkswagen Polo GTI auto ($29,990) – With its 1.8 litre petrol turbo and 141kW and 250Nm, the baby VW does not quite match the Veloster in the power-and-torque department. However, the superb handling Polo has a wonderful liquid connection to the road.
With a combined fuel-consumption figure of 5.7 l/100km the GTI is also more fuel efficient than the Hyundai’s 7.1 l/100kms, and the Polo has five doors.
Toyota 86 auto ($32,490) – Both the Toyota and its Subaru counterpart the BRZ run a two-litre ‘boxer’ engine with 147kW and 205Nm – not far behind the Veloster in power but well down on the Korean’s torque.
The superb handling and ‘alive’ feel at the wheel 86/BRZ twins however put them in a league apart and ahead of the Veloster as a driver’s sports car.
Mazda MX-5 Roadster 1.5 litre auto ($33,990) – The sensational new MX-5 brings so much fun of the fair and behind the wheel, it’s hard to believe the sexy little Japanese sports car only has 96kW and 150Nm under the bonnet.
Unlike the Veloster, the MX-5 runs a traditional automatic – not a dual-clutch unit. The Mazda’s three years/unlimited kilometres warranty is not as generous as the Veloster’s five-years/unlimited setting.
Note: all prices are Manufacturers’ List Price and do not include dealer-delivery and on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Though we’re tempted to give the Veloster SR+ a ‘four star’ verdict, the behaviour of the dual-clutch transmission and the intrusive nature of the traction control dropped it slightly to a strong three-and-a-half.
Styling-wise, the new Veloster continues to turn heads and promote questions from interested passers-by.
But it is now looking a little over-priced against the comparable MX-5, Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ. In terms of the car’s driving dynamics and handling, it’s not quite up there with these competitors.
That said, the Veloster continues to put a smile on this reviewer’s face and if you’re in the market for a hot hatch or sports car and you test one, you might well find that the smile is catching.
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