It’s still distinctive, but can Veloster Turbo’s dynamics match its looks?
You may be surprised by just how much information goes through your mind while sitting in a car that has decided to ignore all user input in favour of a closer sniff of the roadside grass. For me, thoughts ranged from “Those tyres looked a little old.” to “Did I ask too much of this sub-$35K warm hatch?” and finally “Maybe I’ve just run out of talent.”
In some ways, it’s yes to all of the above. But more on that in a minute.
Much of the tested Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo is familiar, but in its matte grey paint and shadow chrome 18-inch wheels, it takes on an aggressive, stealthy intent that seems appropriate, especially when compared to some of the earlier brash colours on offer (such as that yellow).
The rear ‘diffuser’ design is nicely integrated and helps pull the rear of the hatch down towards the tarmac, alluding to aerodynamics that aren’t actually present. Up front, the matching black grill sits large in between the Veloster Turbo’s headlights, and set off a nicely toned colour theme that certainly looks the part.
Interior features include leather bolstered sports seats, sat-nav infotainment with reverse camera and black accents across the dash. Although the infotainment feels a little clunky and outdated at times, it blends well with the more premium feeling seats and trim of the top-spec SR.
Veloster SR Turbo’s 150KW (at 6000rpm), 265Nm (from 1750-4500rpm) 1591cc turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is the standout on-paper feature for the sports-minded driver, and is in fact the same donk that resides in the Kia Pro_Cee’d GT, a slightly heavier but nicely driver-focused competitor (1307kg v 1359kg for the anoraks).
Although not a very quick car, the Veloster SR Turbo’s power delivery is close to linear. Throttle response isn’t great but torque comes on low in the rev range and it gels well with the vehicle’s ability to hold good front-wheel contact through corners when taken at reasonable pace. Run further towards the redline, however, and it feels as though it’s gasping for more air, a boost that simply isn’t available from this turbocharger. Curiously, the Kia feels more energetic when stretched.
Shifting across-and-up from second to third, the clutch feels light and the shifter smooth, if a little rubbery when slipping into the gate. It’s also capable of keeping up when snapping upshifts through quickly. Ranging back to second for the next right, however, reveals that heel-and-toe downshifts offer no benefit; the throttle response simply lags too far behind the driver’s request.
Aiming into the apex the steering provides reprieve from some of the Veloster Turbo’s ailments, with a nice blend of balance and response to input. The feedback provided is filtered but consistent and the steering rack ratio feels right for the car; something that was evident even when cruising through the lighter suburbia of Melbourne to this little winding section of tarmac.
“Veloster Turbo SR lulled me in like a lamb to slaughter.”
Veloster SR Turbo’s larger front brake rotors over the naturally-aspirated variant also provide consistency and some reassurance of longevity while driving hard, with good pedal feel even after a spirited run.
Willing for some more pace within the posted speed limits, the Veloster SR Turbo is able to pick up decent speed between bends to ensure some entertainment at the next turn. A tight left-hander requires some heavier braking and tighter turning, which initiates Veloster’s usually well-planted turn-in response. When pushed a little harder the Veloster’s nature is to lean into slight understeer, however this time the understeer is resolute, ignorant of my attempts to alter front-end dynamics. As the car refuses to acknowledge my recovery, I’m stuck thinking that it should be capable of more. But now, the Veloster Turbo SR has lulled me in like a lamb to slaughter.
Throttle off for a couple seconds and like ammonium carbonate to the unconscious, the front wakes-up, tyres bite and the Veloster pulls back on-line. Then it’s back to business as usual.
At $35,290 (plus on-road costs), it’s a cheaper option than a Volkswagen Scirocco R or Renault Megane RS but the turbo Veloster faces stiff competition from the likes of the lower-priced Kia Pro_Cee’d GT and Ford Fiesta ST, or even the rear-wheel drive 86/BRZ twins.
The overarching feeling is that the Hyundai Veloster is a bevy of parts from other Hyundai models, and though it’s tuned locally to our roads, it is approaching half a decade of age without any major improvements to its dynamics or performance. Given the enjoyable nature of what the Veloster can provide, Hyundai’s next iteration could just bring the improved suspension design and power it needs. It arrives here mid-2015, but until then it remains solid, but unspectacular.
|Specs||2015 Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo|
|Engine||1591cc inline four-cylinder turbo|
|Power||150kW at 6000rpm|
|Torque||265Nm at 1750-4500rpm|
|Power to Weight||8.71kg/kW|
- Turbo provides added urge
- Practicality of a rear door
- Fun handling… to a point
- Handling's limit too low
- A little breathless up top
- Infotainment a bit dated