2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Review By Carey Russ


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo


DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Affordable sports and sporty coupes seem to come into and go out of fashion cyclicly. The late 80s were a time of plenty; by the mid-90s most were extinct. Fashion, the economy, demographics… but that's a subject for some other day. Today's subject is one of the newest affordable sporty coupes, the Hyundai Veloster. In particular, in its newest form, with turbo power.

A sports coupe can be a fine "halo vehicle" for an automaker, in which case it's an expensive, aspirational machine, with more posters on the bedroom walls of teenage boys of all ages than actual sales. Or it can be a practical, functional vehicle that is well-suited as someone's only transportation. Something that may attract new buyers to a brand.

Option two means a reasonable price, actual interior space for one, two, or even three friends, and useful luggage capacity. The Hyundai Veloster is a fine example. And with its third, rear passenger-side door and hatchback body, people and stuff can fit easily -- good news since it is quite likely to be its owner's only car and so will be expected to do just about everything.

I drove a regular Veloster a year ago and liked it. With 138 horsepower pulling almost 2800 pounds through the front wheels, it was more "sporty" that serious "sports", but nothing wrong with that -- sporty sells more than uncompromising sports and is likely less to insure, especially for the young people who are the main marketing target.

Still, each time I took the regular Veloster out for a drive my first though was "there's nothing wrong with this car that a good turbo wouldn't cure." So I arranged a week with the turbo version. Add 63 horsepower and 72 lb-ft of torque with the turbo and consider it cured. Yes, fuel economy takes a hit -- power = fuel + air -- but my 25 mpg overall for the week gets no complaint from me, and the fun factor goes up, big time, while the car is just as practical, useful, and charmingly quirky-looking as its naturally-aspirated sibling.

Compared with the regular Veloster, the Turbo gets unique front and rear styling, premium interior trim as standard equipment, and of course the 201-horsepower turbocharged and intercooled version of the 1.6-liter "Gamma" engine, matched to a six-speed manual or torque-converter automatic. The model lineup is simple - choose your transmission, and if you want all the luxuries & gadgets, the "Ultimate Package" of panoramic sunroof, backup warning sensors, automatic headlights, navigation system, rearview camera, and 115VAC power outlet.

My test car was so-equipped, and had the stick. As such it was a fine example of contemporary sporty coupe/hatchback, with the looks of a coupe and the functionality of a hatchback. Yes, it's quicker -- about two seconds quicker to 60, if that matters -- but the character is still much the same. The Veloster Turbo is no supercar, nor was it meant to be. It compares very well with other "sport-compact" coupes and hatchbacks in numbers, and adds its own character. Hyundai expects the Veloster in all forms to attract new buyers, who will then stay with the brand. With the Veloster's mix of character, performance -- now in two levels -- style, and practicality, Hyundai's marketing department just may be right.

APPEARANCE: It's different, and in a good way. If you know nothing about the Veloster's chassis design before seeing it, you could be excused for wondering whether the short-hood, long-cabin design houses a transverse engine in front or is perhaps a pint-sized mid-engine design. A quick look in the cabin shows a rear seat - with one door for access, on the right, passenger, side. Although the Veloster is symmetrical in overall design, the door arrangement is asymmetrical, with the driver's-side door ten inches longer than the front passenger door. Yes, it's possible to get in the rear seat from the driver's side, but easier through the door on the passenger side. The Turbo gets it's own grille design, similar in outline but simpler than that of the the regular model. Headlights are projector-beam, with LED accent lights, and repeater turn signals are found on the outside mirrors. The 18-inch wheels and low-profile tires that are optional for the non-turbo are standard here, and at the rear is a more prominent faux venturi panel with centered twin exhausts. Fender flares and sill extensions complete the sporty look.

COMFORT: An only car has to do around-town errands, haul stuff, help you move, and still be roomy and comfortable for road trips. No problems there with the Veloster, in either form. There is room for four when necessary, although the rear seat may be cozy for larger people, and rear access is a snap thanks to that third door. Which also helps load and locate cargo, either in the rear seat or, with the 60/40 rear seatback down, after it's put through the hatch. It's as useful and versatile as any compact hatchback, and more stylish.

The interior design is cohesive with the exterior, and soft-touch textured materials for the dash and door trim add class and eliminate glare. Befitting its premium status, the Turbo gets leather seating (with "Turbo" on the front seatbacks, if anyone was wondering), with the front seats heated. Comfort is very good, and not just for the price. Instrumentation is complete, with electroluminescent "SuperVision" analog tach and speedometer and a digital information display centered in front of the driver. The leather-rimmed tilt- and reach-adjustable steering wheel features controls for cruise, information, audio, and phone systems. Audio choices are AM, FM, and XM/Sirius radio, CDs, and an auxiliary jack and USB/iPod connection, placed conveniently at the bottom of the stack between two power points. Seats and steering wheel are manually-adjustable; windows and panoramic sunroof (part of the Ultimate Package) are power. There is more rear seat head- and leg-room than expected, but still it's best for people under 5-7 or so.

SAFETY: A strong unibody structure made of high-tensile steel surrounds the Veloster's passenger cabin. Front, front side, and side-curtain airbags add passive protection, while strong four-wheel antilock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution add active protection. As does the Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system, comprised of electronic stability control and the electric power steering assist system, which can help the car react quicker in emergencies.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Perhaps surprisingly, the Turbo's suspension is identical to that of the regular Veloster. With independent MacPherson struts in front and a torsion beam axle in the rear, it's tuned moderately firmly, for a good real-world balance of comfort and cornering power. Response is improved by a quicker steering ratio. The ride can be a bit choppy on poor surfaces, but the same can be said of any other small, short car. And when it comes time to squeeze into a tight parking space or garage, the Veloster will fit with ease.

PERFORMANCE: Turbocharging plus direct fuel injection is becoming increasingly popular in the auto industry, both to get more power from less displacement and weight and to get that power more cleanly and efficiently compared to a larger-displacement naturally-aspirated engine. Here, a twin-scroll turbo gives most of the advantages of twin turbos on a four-cylinder engine with less weight and complexity (and cost). An intercooler keeps the intake charge denser, improving efficiency and power. A motor-driven electric waste gate allows precise boost control. Direct fuel injection allows a higher compression ratio than otherwise without ill effects -- and this high specific output (125.6 bhp/liter) turbo engine makes its power on unleaded regular, not premium, gasoline. Maximum horsepower is 201, at 6000 rpm. That takes care of the top end. At the bottom, maximum torque is 195 lb-ft, at a low 1750 rpm. For best performance, though, keep revs above 3000. No lag at all then. There's no real need to go above 6000, as there is plenty of urge in that wide sweet spot. Good shift linkage and well-chosen gear ratios add to the pleasure factor. Ignore the digital gear suggestion nanny as it is programmed for economy on flat surfaces. When accelerating uphill in 3rd gear, at around 3500 rpm, it suggested that I should be in 6th. I humbly suggest that lugging an engine in that manner is still a good way to damage rod and crankshaft bearings, a Very Bad Thing indeed. I'll pay a bit more for fuel and a lot less for no engine rebuild, thank you very much!

CONCLUSIONS: Hyundai cures the Veloster's soft performance with turbo power to make a unique small and affordable car.

SPECIFICATIONS
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Base Price			$ 21,950
Price As Tested			$ 25,320
Engine Type			turbocharged and intercooled DOHC
				 16-valve inline 4-cylinder, aluminum
				 alloy block and head, direct fuel
				 injection, and continuously-variable
				 cam phasing
Engine Size			1.6 liters / 98 cu. in.
Horsepower			201 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			195 @ 1750 rpm
Transmission			6-speed manual
Wheelbase / Length		104.3 in. / 167.3 in.
Curb Weight			est 2900 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		14.4
Fuel Capacity			13.2 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				215/40R18 85V Kumho Solus KH25 m+s
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc,
				 ABS, EBD, ESC, VSM, TCS standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  torsion beam axle
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				 front wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		24 / 35 / 25
0 to 60 mph				6.6  sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Ultimate Package -- includes:
  Panoramic Sunroof, Backup Warning Sensors,
  Automatic Headlamps, Navigation System with
  Rearview Camera, 115VAC outlet			$ 2,500
Carpeted Floor Mats					$    95
Destination Charge					$   775

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