I say one of the most competitive because companies such as Volkswagen and Ford, as well as Opel and Renault are all fighting for the top spot when it comes to their performance hatch offerings. Hyundai, although quite popular on the World Rally scene hasn’t really been known for its performance hatchbacks.
That’s where the Veloster Turbo comes into play. Hyundai aims to forge a new path within the market with regards to boosted cars and the Veloster Turbo, on the face of it, seems to be a step in the right direction. It 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 compared 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.
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 that now the Veloster Turbo 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 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 DCT (dual clutch transmission), which will get you from 0-100km/h in just under seven seconds and sips around 6.5 litres/100km.
Now 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 that there is not enough aural stimulation. The car’s exhaust note is muted and I feel that there is definitely space for improvements in that area.
I’ll be honest, before I got into the Veloster Turbo, I was driving around in a Golf GTI Performance Pack, and that was a big problem as it is then when you realize how different the two cars are, considering the pricing differences. The GTI is just in a different league. So what about comparing the Veloster to the likes of the Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST? Well, on engine capacity and power it would be the more sensible option however, the Hyundai’s price far outweighs its price tags (the manual version will cost you R379 900 and the DCT version will cost you R399 990) and, while I’m being honest, those two cars will put a bigger smile on your face.
I’m not saying the Hyundai is a bad choice, it’s just not my choice at the moment but considering the fact that we are comparing Hyundais to Volkswagens, especially GTIs, then I for one am excited to see what the future holds for Hyundai and I reckon that pretty soon they will have a true GTI rival; they’re pretty damn close!