What’s Hot: Goes, handles, and stops better than the Veloster SR.
What’s Not: You can’t stroll into your local dealer and buy one.
X-FACTOR: Upgraded across the board, its a great way to show the Veloster’s potential.
Vehicle Style: Small performance coupe/hatch
Price: $TBA (not yet confirmed for production)
Engine/trans: 195kW/318Nm (est) 1.6 4cyl turbo petrol | 6spd manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.8 l/100km (in standard tune) | tested: 10.3 l/100km
You may not be familiar with the Raptor yet, so allow me to introduce you. The Raptor is Hyundai’s way of thinking out loud - a drivable proof-of-concept for the Veloster’s potential.
It isn’t a production model yet, but it could be. It’s the first step in the evolution of a properly hot Veloster, with 195kW and 318Nm to strike fear into the hearts of hot-hatch owners everywhere.
To go with the retuned ECU (that’s where the extra oomph comes from) there’s also a set of black Rays wheels, lowered King Springs with revalved dampers, and a deeper voice courtesy of a cat-back exhaust.
That added oomph gets channeled to the ground via a Quafe limited-slip differential, plus there’s plenty more goodies included to complete the package.
But rather than being relegated to a life of dealership appearances, and optimistic spec-sheet fliers, this one can be driven.
In fact, Hyundai is so confident that instead of handing it out with a minder, the Raptor was ours to use and abuse for a week, to really put it to the test.
- Heated and cooled leather seats.
- Blue interior highlights on the seats and door-pulls.
- Eight-speaker audio with Bluetooth and Aux-inputs.
- Touchscreen display, with navigation and reverse camera.
- Proximity key with push-button start.
There’s still a nice pair of sports seats up front, not overly grippy but comfy all the same.
The rear is pretty tight when it comes to headroom, and rear seat passengers are right under the rear glass. Unlike a traditional coupe though, access is simplified by the additional rear door on the passenger side.
There are some differences to your garden-fare Veloster SR Turbo. That model's panoramic sunroof gets the flick, and heated and cooled front seats have been added.
Smurf-skin blue seat highlights have also been added, along with blue-tinted door pulls.
All up, it’s not too outlandish inside - you could say it’s just about production-ready.
ON THE ROAD
- Retuned 1.6 litre petrol turbo inline four cylinder: 195kW/318Nm
- Six-speed dual manual, FWD.
- Four-wheel disc brakes, enhanced with Winmax brake pads and braided brake lines.
- Lowered King Spings with Mando dampers.
- Lightweight Rays alloy wheels and Pirelli P-Zero tyres
While the standard Veloster SR Turbo is no slouch, it isn’t exactly a fireball.
We like its spry feel and flexible engine but always thought it could do with more. To be honest though, we didn’t expect this much more.
Starting at the engine - the performance boost shovelled under the bonnet of the Raptor comes courtesy of a custom ECU tune that liberates an extra 45kW and 58Nm.
That means (estimated) final figures of 195kW and 318Nm - or enough to worry Golf GTI owners and start nipping at the heels of the Golf R.
All that go from just 1.6 litres is still relatively uncommon.
To drive it feels a little 'turbo old-school' - give it some beans and there's a touch of lag and then a crazy rush from 3000rpm onwards.
It’s a lot of fun. Me, I don’t mind the two-stage power delivery as it makes the Veloster Raptor relatively docile around town. Importantly, it feels much more muscular when asked 'the question'.
The biggest mechanical change comes via the limited slip differential from Quafe. It transfers the extra grunt to the ground and make a big difference to how the Raptor leaps out of corners.
The suspension also scores Mando dampers, lowered, stiffer King Springs and firmer bushes from SuperPro.
Among the more obvious changes are a set of matte-black 19-inch Rays alloy wheels, wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero rubber. The change in tyres alone marks a big step up from the underwhelming Kumho Solus boots normally fitted to the SR Turbo.
While the gearshift and clutch remain untouched, I’d swear the take-up point of the clutch feels more positive and is easier to engage, but maybe thats just a result of the constant abuse the car has most likely copped.
The gearchange feels meaty enough - it lacks the precision of a Toyota 86, but still works for the car.
The high-flow exhaust boosts noise levels and give the Raptor a more rorty edge, still not droney on the highway, but ever-present with the rise and fall of revs through town.
Put it all together and the results are surprising. This is a car with genuine poise and confidence.
The changes to the chassis mean that you’ll want to throw it into corners with verve, the added punch from the engine will have you powering out of the apex with intent, and the addictive exhaust note will drive you do it again and again.
Things can still get a little axle trampy on anything less that glass-smooth surfaces, but you have to remember that for a minimal set of changes the Veloster is pushing a lot more power.
The basic chassis set-up itself is actually very accommodating.
Realistically, if you were to run a set of changes like this through your own Veloster you could easily set it up for dedicated weekend track work and still commute to work on Monday. And you'd be happy with the car’s behaviour in both situations.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - the Veloster scored 35.47 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: The standard Veloster range features electronic stability control, (switchable) traction control and vehicle stability management (which provides counter-steering assistance in emergency situations). There’s also ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist plus six airbags and load limiting pretensioners for front seatbelts.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
If you’re looking at a Veloster Turbo, you might also like to consider a Toyota 86, or maybe even a Mini Cooper S.
But if you want something closer to (or more established than) the Raptor, why not consider a Focus ST, maybe a Golf GTI or even something as lofty as a Scirocco R?
There’s a good chance that even after modding a Veloster you’ll still have saved money on some of the out-of-the box performance offerings.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
When Hyundai revealed the quirky part-hatch, part-coupe Veloster not everyone knew what to make of the little styling oddity. To prove it was more than just unusual packaging, the SR Turbo added a dose of muscle.
And now there’s this.
On the one hand, Hyundai is showing what a future hot-Veloster might include, and, if it were to hit the market as-is, there’s little to complain about.
But even if there isn’t a future performance icon wearing the recently announced ‘N’ performance division badges, the Veloster Raptor does something else.
It points buyers to a growing range of aftermarket performance accessories, and will perhaps seed the beginning of a cult-following that has so far eluded the Korean company.
Either way, this unassuming 'Blue Ocean Pearl' hatch signals a change of pace at Hyundai. One that any motoring enthusiast can endorse.