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Hyundai Veloster now with a turbo

01.06.2015

LOVE it? Hate it? You’re probably not on the fence about it but it’s been with us for about three years now. I’m talking about the Hyundai Veloster, the Korean carmaker’s answer to sporty German hatchbacks. It was powered by a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine and thus never had the oomph to take on the turbo-powered Germans, well, until now.

Hyundai has bolted a twin-scroll turbo onto the updated Veloster and I took it for a drive to see if it can compete with the likes of the Golf GTI and Mini Cooper S.

It’s a proper three-door

They say that symmetry is the key to good car designs but that memo didn’t quite make it to the guys at Hyundai. On the driver side of the Veloster there is only one door - for the driver, but on the other side there are two doors. One for the front passenger and one for rear passengers. It’s not easy to spot this as the rear door handle is cleverly hidden. This makes the Veloster a proper three-door hatchback.

Tougher looks outside

The Veloster Turbo certainly looks a lot tougher than before. The front bumper and grille has been changed and you can now see the intercooler. The design is different to the more subdued European designs; I kind of like it though. At the rear of the car, the tough theme continues and the rear bumper still houses the centre-mounted twin exhausts, which make a brash statement about the car’s performance intentions.

Sporty inside

The Veloster’s exterior sporty theme continues inside and one thing you will notice from the moment you open the door is the word, 'Turbo,' which has been stitched into the side bolsters of the sporty seats. They are also colour coordinated to match the exterior of the car. The dashboard layout hasn’t changed much and it remains ergonomic and neat. What has changed though is the Veloster Turbo now features electric power-steering. I felt that it was a little uninformative when driving with some flair, but there are steering-wheel settings, which alter the feel between Comfort, Normal and Sport. Space inside is ample and rear legroom is surprisingly abundant.

The turbo engine and drive

The Veloster Turbo is powered by Hyundai’s 1.6-litre TGDi engine, which develops 150kW of power and an impressive 265Nm of torque, which is available across a wide rev-band. There are two transmissions on offer, an old-school six-speed manual or a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), which will get you from 0-100km/h in just under seven seconds as it sips around 6.5 litres/100km.

You might think that the DCT box is the better option but unfortunately it’s not quite there, just yet. Around town it remains fuss-free but when driven with exuberance there are issues. The theoretical benefits of a DCT are faster changes, however, this in-house developed unit reveals some kinks and the calibration isn’t aggressive enough when called upon to be so. I found it too hesitant to kick-down upon entry of a corner and too eager to shift up when exiting a corner; this impedes cornering speed. I’d opt for the manual, rather.

Another issue with the drive, although comfortable considering the low-profile tyres, is that I just found there’s not enough aural stimulation. The car’s exhaust note is muted and I feel there’s definitely space for improvements in that area.

Verdict

This is not a bad car; it looks different and is loaded with all sorts of goodies to keep any modern-day driver happy. The ride is good but I did find it to be susceptible to strong, windy conditions. At speed it tends to move around a bit, especially if the road surface is uneven. It’s not as precise a surgical tool as the German offerings but it is nevertheless a good car. However, and this is a big one… the price. The manual version will cost you R379 900 and the DCT version will cost you R399 990, which is far too much for this car. Yes it has loads of standard features and yes it has a fantastic service plan but for R389 900 you can get a Renault Mégane RS LUX which has 195kW and sounds so much better.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
01.06.2015
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