Think of this boosted sportster that finally lives up to its nameplate as a case of "what took them so long?"
The introduction of the 2013 Hyundai Veloster
Turbo is heralded as the "reverse halo car for the brand," which is what it should have been from the start. With the standard Veloster certainly unique in its attributes, the overall package suffered because of its less-than-potent powerplant.
Has the car benefitted from the injection of power, or is it still left wanting? Join us in the live music capital of the world, Austin, Texas, as we put the newest Hyundai through its paces.
We've seen it all before - almost
But not from other manufacturers. And still, we have yet to tire from the happily different
Veloster hot hatch with its three asymmetrical doors, chic exterior and fun design cues.
The added boost that it receives from the Hyundai-developed turbocharger kicks the car into a vaunted category where it may or may not belong: The Veloster now finds itself competing against such stalwarts as the Volkswagen GTI
, the MINI Cooper S, the Honda Civic Si and the Fiat Abarth 500. All are respectable pocket rockets in their own way, and all have offered a lot more zip than the Veloster could ever provide.
Plunking down a load of your hard earned for a Veloster Turbo will have you making sure that it looks a bit different from the run-of-the-mill model that the yawn-inducing accountant down the street drives. Hyundai heard the concerns and took care of it with the addition of new body panels front and rear. Featuring revised lighting, a rear diffuser, center mounted exhaust finishers and more, it is capped off with a new larger front grille that will provide plenty of air to cool off the higher temperatures that come with a turbocharged lifestyle.
A matte-gray paint option is available ($1,000) for the first time to give that tuned aftermarket look. Costing thousands less than such special paint treatments from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Audi, it utilizes a special treatment of the clearcoat. Special care must be taken, and automatic car washes are to be avoided, otherwise the clearcoat can take on a shiny look to its finish. Good lucking getting the third owner of your new Veloster to take care of it down the line. The total turbo package is finished off with a leather interior as standard and Turbo badging on the rear flank.
Living up to its name
The heart of the matter, though, is the new 1.6-liter Gamma (in Hyundai-speak) turbocharged and direct injection four-cylinder that manages 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm on regular-grade fuel. Peak torque of 195 lb-ft. comes on at 1,750 rpm and continues onward for a flat power band. According to Hyundai's math gurus, the Veloster Turbo claims a more-dense power to size ratio than its other rivals at 125.6 horsepower per liter.
Power is transferred to the front wheels by the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. The dual clutch slushbox from the normally aspirated Veloster will not be offered, as it was not made to handle the added torque from the turbocharged engine. With a curb weight of 2,800 lbs., for the manual transmission, the EPA estimates a class-leading 26/38 mpg.
The twin-scroll turbocharger is included to minimize turbo lag under heavy acceleration thanks to a two-vane design that allows exhaust from cylinders one and three to spin the first vane, while two and four are preparing to spin the vane on their side of the turbine. The turbocharger is integrated into the exhaust manifold, rather than further downline, with its position helping to cut down on mass and improve heat transfer to the system. In short, boost is good.
The suspension is a carryover from the base non-turbocharged Veloster, which means it's a not-that-sophisticated MacPherson strut/torsion beam setup.
The new 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that supports this Veloster Turbo is a stout little unit that manages to do everything the naturally aspirated engine couldn't do. Acceleration was brisk and lively, but not in a Top Fuel dragster sort of way. Regardless, the 62 extra ponies and 72 extra lb-ft of torque that found its way under the hood are a welcomed sight. At the end of the day, we enjoyed its peppiness and how it seemed to want to continue pulling, even while in sixth gear.
With our driving stretched across two days, we found an inconsistent manual transmission to be a little troubling. The first day saw us performing quick shifts with nary a miss as we rowed along. The next day's different car was a decidedly balky example, which seemed as though the spacing of the gates were too close. As a result, a gear change from fifth to sixth actually had us going from fifth to fourth. We hope this isolated example is a classic exception to the rule.
The steering was well modulated, with little in the way of a dead spot, and although it is a little bit over-boosted, in context, it performs admirably. The suspension provided a confident, but not excessively firm ride, which managed to handle variations in road surface with aplomb. Sweeping turns and moderate switchbacks were handled with ease, though we weren't able to put the Veloster on a track.
We were pleasantly surprised that the 18-inch Kumho tires managed to keep as much road noise away as they did.
Leftlane's bottom line
Hyundai heard the customers and critics alike carp about the power of the hip little pocket rocket they call the Veloster.
Adding a turbocharger to the 1.6-liter mill has taken an engine that felt like it was suffering from asthma to one that feels as though it has sucked down the entire contents of a huge inhaler. Here's to hoping this little power-dense mill winds up under the hood of more Hyundai and Kia products in the near future.
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
base price, $21,950.
Words and photos by Mark Elias.