Hyundai Veloster Turbo review
by David Finlay (Friday 21 September 2012)
If you have so far avoided buying a Hyundai Veloster because of its curious, two-doors-on-one-side, one-on-the-other styling, there's nothing here that's going to raise your interest levels. If, on the other hand, you have spurned it because you feel it isn't quick enough, you may be in for a treat.
The Veloster Turbo uses basically the same 1.6-litre direct injection petrol engine as the GDi reviewed here, but as its name may already have led you to expect Hyundai has fitted a turbocharger to it and raised the power output from 138bhp to 184bhp. This brings the 0-62mph time down from 9.7 to 8.4 seconds, which a sporty driver might consider more suitable but, mysteriously, still makes the Turbo slower than the less powerful and heavier Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.6 Turbo.
It could easily have been quicker. The Veloster Turbo in the US has the same engine producing around 200bhp. For the UK, Hyundai decided to compromise the maximum output in favour of more power lower down the rev range to suit UK tastes and driving conditions (basically, America has the straights, we have the corners).
It's true that the Turbo is magnificently flexible, and quite capable of accepting full throttle at 1100rpm in sixth gear. I can imagine potential buyers in this country disagreeing with Hyundai's policy and wishing they could have a 200bhp version instead, but there are no stated plans to import it.
There may also be puzzlement over the decision to use more widely-spaced gear ratios in the Turbo than in the GDi, first being lower and sixth higher. (I'm ignoring reverse partly because it doesn't matter and partly because the rear window design is so awful that it would be unwise to contemplate using it. If you want the car to go backwards, get out and push.)
Two points about the gearing strategy: one, the greater gap from one gear to the next is absolutely correct for a turbocharged engine because of its inherently wider spread of power; two, compared with those of a less sporty car the gaps aren't actually very wide at all, and you could still describe the Turbo as having a close-ratio gearbox.
Larger front brake discs have been fitted to deal with the greater speed potential, and Hyundai has also modified the steering. In other areas it has done very little. The 215/40x18 tyres are exactly the same as those offered on some versions of the GDi, while the suspension is almost entirely unchanged. No stiffer springs, no thicker anti-roll bars - all that has happened is that the damping is firmer than before.
This was a wise move. The GDi has a lot of body movement which affects the handling considerably (and, in my view if no one else's, positively). That's fine in a 138bhp car, but combining the same set-up with an extra 46bhp would have made the Turbo far too wayward. The damping certainly had to be changed for this application.
And it works, but only up to a point. In moderate to brisk road driving, the Turbo is decently responsive and perfectly amiable, though not as much fun as the GDi. If you push harder, into territory where the GDi would stay on your side and do its best to help, the Turbo becomes quite wayward as the engine starts to overpower the chassis. It doesn't feel like it would be much fun as a trackday car, and you wouldn't want to get it anywhere the limit even on the quietest of country roads.
The only Turbo available at present is the SE, which gets all sorts of styling changes to distinguish it from the GDi, along with chrome-effect wheels, leather upholstery, and electrically-adjustable driver's seat, satellite navigation (fine, but watch out for its habit of telling you that local speed limits are 10mph higher than they are), a desperately needed reversing camera (I'd still rather have proper windows though) and an eight-speaker audio system.
It's priced at £21,995, for which you also get the fully transferable five years' worth of unlimited mileage warranty, free roadside assistance and annual health checks (as offered with all Hyundais) and solid White Crystal paint. If White Crystal doesn't appeal, you can have Phantom Black Pearl or Matt Grey instead, but they cost an extra £445 and £525 respectively. A tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof is another option, at £950.
In 2013 Hyundai will introduce another Turbo costing under £20,000. The lower price will be achieved by taking away some of the standard equipment, but mechanically the new car will be identical to the SE.