The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Ride and Review By Thom Cannell


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Thom Cannell
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

Did you wait?

When Hyundai revealed the intriguing new Veloster at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show did you rush out and buy one? Or did you wait for what you knew, knew, had to be tucked away in the product planning office, a turbocharged version of Veloster.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Veloster 1.0 launched last fall with a 1.6-liter Direct Injected engine and either 6-speed automatic or 6-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, Hyundai’s first DCT. Power output was sufficient, not exciting at 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. On the same stage Hyundai was touting it’s new stainless-steel twin-scroll turbochargers for other models. Yeah, a turbo version was inevitable and the wraps came off at the 2012 Detroit show. Call Veloster a liftback, hatchback, even a shooting brake, its unique exterior skin and three-door design with one door for the driver, two for passengers, and a wide-opening rear hatch for stashing gobs of gear, strikes us as an all purpose vehicle designed to appeal to Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers—anyone with a multitasking lifestyle.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Turbocharging Veloster adds $4500 to the price tag, which is totally deceptive. For those bucks you snap up far more than power, which claims 201 ponies and hugely improved 195 pound-feet of torque on regular grade (!) fuel. That forty-five hundred gets you everything but a matte gray paint option (more on that later) and automatic transmission. The feature list is so lengthy we’ll only hit highlights, like unique suspension tuning, projector headlamps with LED accents, rear air diffuser with center-mounted sport tuned exhaust, upgraded leather accented interior with Turbo embroidery and 8-way power driver’s seat, AC with air filtration, proximity key with push-button start, touch screen audio (AM/FM, satellite, CD-MP3) rocking 450 Watts through eight speakers and sub, Bluetooth connections plus AUX inputs, Blue Link telematics system and voice recognition, and yes, lots more. Standard features are so inclusive that a single option package with panoramic sunroof, backup warning with navigation and rearview camera, and a 115V outlet is offered. Oh, and the automatic transmission. If you’re wondering why no Dual Clutch Transmission, the Turbo’s torque would totally chew it up.

There’s only a few clues to the turbo lurking beneath the menacing exterior, those LED headlamp accents, LED tail lights and turn signal markers, unique body kit with turbo badging and 18” chrome accented alloy wheels, and a superbly executed black rear valance with twin center-mounted exhaust pipes. The hood retains signature indentations and the chunky wheel arches are linked by a crisp beltline that wraps from front through the back to the other side.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The interior features your choice of gray or blue highlights black leather seats with TURBO embroidery. They’re heated, pedals are aluminum, and the ignition key in your pocket is a proximity transponder—just leave it in your jeans and push the starter button. Other goodness includes a sport mode with paddle shifters and SHIFTRONIC manual shift mode for the AT.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

After posterior placement, drivers will see an electroluminescent gauge cluster in white on black. We wished for a bit more contrast or a more readable type face, a nit-pick. Regardless, it’s clean and sparse with bar gauges for fuel and temperature. Next you’ll notice a very different appearance to the dash surface, a mashup of herringbone and tweed textures that’s very cool and produces zero sun glare. It covers the dash and upper door panel down to leather grained plastic.

Hyundai designers equate piano black accents with luxury, as do Mercedes and BMW, so it’s got ‘em. Fortunately there was no glare from the shiny bits around the HVAC controls, which were joyously simple to use. We also liked the seats for their simple rake/height/fore-aft adjustments. They’re cup-like and fit large and small drivers with comfort while offering enough squish to make aggressive driving less of a butt kick.

Veloster Turbo prices are $21,950 (plus $775 destination) for six-speed manual cars, the automatic adds $1000 or $22,950 plus shipping. When doing comparisons, factor in the standard goodies when pricing competitors like MINI Cooper S or Clubman S, Scion tC, Honda CR-Z, Fiat 500 Abarth, VW Beetle Turbo, VW GTI, or Civic SI. None of those brands offer matte paint; Hyundai is the first volume brand to offer that option.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Matte paint, which is actually a matte clear coat atop standard paint is a hot feature on BMW 6 Grand Coupe, M3 and M5, Audi R8, Mercedes SL 65 AMG and a few ultra-premium cars and it’s a pricy option for those marques. Hyundai says availability of matte paint, gray only for the 2013 Veloster, will be limited, and you’ll have to sign the devils own documents swearing you’ll hand wash the car and never-never-ever even glance at a car wash. You’ll also promise to use only approved paint care products, not dish soap, not your old T-shirt or terrycloth towels, and you’ll promise never to say ArmorAll out loud. Matte paint is like a Kardashian, oddly cool, extremely high maintenance, and you’ll pay for it in dollars, $1000, and sweat.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

We punished Veloster Turbos, both 6-speed and automatic over a few hundred sun dried California miles and bluntly, Hyundai got it right. Driven hard on twisting canyon roads there was nothing it wouldn’t do, from using throttle steer to push the chassis into oversteer or understeer for differing corners, to adding rotation of the chassis when the situation demanded, or just using the Turbo’s extra torque to sprint from one corner to the next. That said, the Turbo isn’t as edgy delivering grip and steering as some competitors so you could say Veloster Turbo is more refined in multiple use.

Hyundai’s twin-scroll turbocharger seems to eliminate any lag from the additional air mass being stuffed into its four cylinders at a maximum rate of 18 psi. Yes, there is an intercooler to take the heat off the charge air. Also, the quick response is due to the turbo’s very close coupling to the exhaust and the twin-scroll turbine housing is made of stainless steel for heat rejection. In an odd way the turbo design makes the big tachometer unnecessary, the engine just pulls hard from 1,600 RPM up to above 6,000 and you never give it a glance. The speedometer, now that’s important! We do think the FWD Veloster’s manual shift mechanism could use a bit more definition, hopefully equalling the RWD Genesis Coupe. It’s got similarly short throws but occasionally seemed a bit muddled (other writers disagreed). The automatic felt flawless and we actually preferred using the paddle shifters to changing gears at the floor mounted shifter, which was perpetually in Sport mode.

The chassis is similar to standard Veloster, constructed mostly of High Strength Steel (according to Hyundai 65% is HSS). The toughest steels surround the passenger cabin like a Sprint Cup roll cage. Compared to V 1.0 the Turbo’s MacPherson front struts and twin-tube dampers have heftier calibrations and it’s 24 mm stabilizer bar is larger. It also shares a V torsion beam rear axle, but has an integrated 23 mm stabilizer bar and uprated monotube dampers. In development engineers discovered that relocating steering knuckles improved steering and handling, requiring relocation of the front brake calipers. They now lead the center line, more 11 o’clock than 3. Expect to see these changes in other Hyundai vehicles.

Hyundai dropped a couple of parking lot events to show us Veloster’s tight 34.12’ turning circle, responsive electronic power steering, brake performance, and chassis balance. It’s got all that, and allowing 30+ auto writers to beat on the cars for hours proved the Turbo has the cojones of a much larger motor, smoking tires in first and second all day—that from a 1.6-Liter motor adjusted to deliver an EPA highway rating of 38 MPG.

Part of the test was full-stop braking from 60 mph, which it did without brake fade throughout the day. That’s due to 11.8” ventilated front and 10.3” solid rear disc brakes. With summer tires and suspension tuning from Eibach and Bilstein you might impress at an autocross or track day. Later, with cruise engaged we could relax and experience the chassis’ solidity and robustness. We noted an open exterior view despite a small rear window and protruding spoiler—as long as you’d properly adjusted both side mirrors. Then even the bumpers and tires of trailing vehicle were in view. We also deeply appreciated steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls ‘cause the chassis and engine wanted to roll swiftly past the posted limit, a really bad idea in Cali where speeding tickets swiftly shred $600. Do not ask.