YES, RUNNING THE 2016 HYUNDAI VELOSTER STREET TURBO ON A RACETRACK OPENS UP A WHOLE NEW SET OF CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT HYUNDAI'S COUPE ODDITY.
The Street name refers to the limited edition Veloster’s kerb appeal - a blackout treatment for the grille surround, front and rear spoilers, rear diffuser, and mirror caps.
There’s also a set of 'Rays Gram Lights 57XV' multi-spoke alloys in satin back, while inside the interior cops a smattering of Smurf-blue highlights in the seats, door grips, centre console and seat belts.
It's a smart package for the quirky Veloster, giving it the kind of aftermarket look that ought to strike a chord with buyers with the added bonus of a 200-unit limited run.
Although mechanically identical to the regular Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo, that didn’t stop us from running a few heated laps in Hyundai’s asymmetrical oddball to test its mettle as a weekend track star.
Vehicle Style: Small three-door coupe
Price: $34,990 manual, $37,390 automatic (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 150kW/265Nm 1.6 4cyl 4cyl turbo petrol | 6sp manual, 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.9 l/100km man, 7.1 l/100km auto
ON THE TRACK
Thanks to its compact dimensions and kamm-tail imitating rear end the Veloster looks like a rabbit mid-sprint. On your favourite dedicated race-circuit it’ll run like a startled bunny too.
Although it borrows its appearance package from the one-off Veloster Raptor that we drove last year, the Veloster Street is mechanically identical to the Veloster SR Turbo range.
To that end you get a turbocharged 1.6 litre four cylinder engine pushing 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque to the front wheels through a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
With outputs like that, the Veloster sits somewhere between warm and hot on the hatch scale, and in a package the size of the Veloster it’s a 'not to heavy, not to light' solution.
Opting for the manual version, TMR’s track session with the Veloster Street came back-to-back with the i30 SR, and provided some interesting comparisons.
With a compact feel, and a more cocooning environment for the driver, the Veloster immediately feels more nimble than the larger i30.
That same feeling carries onto the track, where the turbocharged Veloster feels spritely, lunging from corner to corner with real enthusiasm.
From about 3000rpm and up the Veloster really flies; importantly, it doesn't become noticeably breathless higher in the rev range (as can some small turbo engines).
Although the steering doesn't threaten a sporting Golf or even a day-to-day Mazda in terms of feedback, there’s a crisp feel through the front end. The steering is responsive and cornering is stable and agile.
There’s some body-roll courtesy of a suspension compliance that's set to handle day-to-day drudgery without rattling the fillings out, but not so much that shifting weight becomes a problem to manage on the track.
In fact, the Veloster is actually surprisingly neutral, holding a neat cornering line, and going where you point it. Come in hot and you’ll uncover a predictable amount of understeer, but as a primarily road-biased package the Veloster is really very well-behaved under the pressure of track use.
Hyundai’s own guff about the Veloster describes the rear end as being “actively involved in high speed cornering”. The handling is simply good clean fun, predictable, with good turn-in but resistant to the joy of a good old fashioned lift-off oversteer flick.
As for gripes, there’s really only one, but depending on how you drive it could be a biggie: stability control.
The Veloster’s stability control is simply too eager for a sports car. It has it buttoned down too tightly, with an early intervention threshold and an engine power cut that lasts just a moment too long.
That means if you enter a corner a little too enthusiastically the system clamps the brakes and dials back engine torque, and rather than complementing the driver, feels like a smack on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.
Try to get out of the way in a hurry and that lingering power cut makes progress far too shy. You can, of course, turn the system off if you’d rather, but we'd like a system that was less of a wet blanket.
Truth be told, the vast majority of Hyundai Velosters won’t ever see the heat of track use under their tyres, and that’s quite okay.
This test simply proves that Hyundai’s hatch-like coupe thing (or should that be the other way around?) can take to your local public circuit without buckling under pressure, and happens to be a bit of a giggle in the process.
It may not be the most powerful pocket-rocket you can buy, but as a tool for honing your driving skill it does a great job.
It is easy in fact to underestimate the little Veloster Turbo. There are some nice visual additions to this 'Street' edition, and enough going on here that will please the keen driver.
It has enough urge to feel genuinely swift, offers quite surprising balance on track, and yet is nicely set for daily use. (And it looks alright too - in a slightly bent way.)
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