Hyundai’s wild child: the Veloster Turbo
It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s surprisingly practical. Best of all, it’s finally here!
Hyundai’s Veloster Turbo has been teasing Hyundai fans in the Philippines for a few years. The Kamm-tail coupe was launched in 2011, and grey-market imports have been popping up in our local roads ever since its launch.
But it took Hyundai five years to launch it locally, primarily because our fuel wasn’t up to par.
With the introduction of Euro IV fuels across the board, and with Petron introducing an even better Euro V compliant Blaze 100RON octane fuel, it’s the perfect time for the Veloster to finally break cover.
To the uninitiated, the Veloster is a 3-door coupe with a surprisingly deep boot that just swallows up cargo far bigger and far more than what you’d normally expect in a small car such as this.
The powertrain comprises a 1.6-liter aluminum block, direct-injected, turbocharged and intercooled gasoline engine, sending power to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission or DCT which, on the go, shifts gears seamlessly and efficiently.
LED headlights provide an eerie glow at night.
All told, the modest engine produces a not so modest 204 hp and 264 Newton meters of torque.
Talking to some friends in the aftermarket industry, extracting more power shouldn’t be a problem with simple breathing mods, let alone an ECU reflash to tweak fuel, ignition and boost settings.
Plebian hero car
Clearly, Hyundai is a more plebian hero car versus the equally amazing and cost-effective yet less practical Genesis coupe (RIP).
Inside, you get a what Hyundai calls Super Vision Illumination from the twin binnacles of the instrument cluster illuminated in bluish white, a 7-inch touchscreen display that doubles as the reverse camera monitor, and aluminum-finish accents on the a/c vents, gearknob, door sidings, and the excellent 3-spoke steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake.
Auxiliary buttons for the multimedia system and cruise controls can be found on either of the left and right spokes. Of course, you get paddle shifters behind the steering wheel as well.
Panoramic glass roof
There’s a panoramic glass roof—always cool for when you want to feel the romance of driving (or to impress your date)—and an excellent driving position, thanks to supportive seats covered in leather that offer a myriad of adjustments to help you find the best position for sporty driving.
Six airbags are standard, as well as ABS-EBD brakes and traction/stability control to boot.
The Veloster represents the best of what Hyundai is: value for money, even in the performance car segment.
Aside from the roomy boot, the rear seats are surprisingly useable even on moderately long drives out of town.
It looks unique, has decent specs, but how is it to drive? In a word, fast.
The Veloster loves smooth, wide open roads. It’s also very refined at speed.
To be honest, I often forget to mind the speedometer on my regular long drives down south. I thought I was cruising right around at 100 km/h but was surprised to find myself approaching 170km/h! That’s how smooth and refined the Veloster is on the highway.
It also returned a very decent 12.5 kilometers per liter on my long drive.
On winding roads, the Veloster is capable, and I use that word cautiously. The Veloster has oodles of lateral grip, has a well-controlled chassis, and the suspension has decent compliance.
But the shocks and springs, along with the suspension arms seem to lack travel, bottoming out quite easily.
This lack of stroke and motion can cause a mild imbalance in the Veloster, and gets more alarming as speeds get higher.
On slick roads, the front tires scrabble for grip despite running on meaty performance-oriented Hankook Ventus Prime 2 rubber measuring a considerable 225/40R18.
There’s also considerable torque-steer, no doubt exacerbated by the DCT transmission’s aggressive clutch and shifting program plus the immediate torque from the turbocharged engine.
It can be a bit of a handful, but it also adds some character; you feel like you’re playfully wrestling with the Veloster on a fast b-road blast.
But there are some real foibles with the Veloster: the DCT transmission can shunt and jerk considerably when you’ve been crawling through traffic for the entire day.
A friend had suggested that changing the DCT transmission fluid to a higher-spec one from the likes of Motul or Redline Oils can make a noticeable difference with regard to the jerking, so if you own one and experience this problem, consult your nearest trusted mechanic/speed shop as this might help.
At higher speeds, there is no problem, and shifting at wide-open throttle presents no problems, thankfully.
The other foible is the interior: while the engineering and performance is sound and quite impressive in this price range, the interior feels quite cheap.
The plastics feel very hard and sterile, just like you will find in a Hyundai taxi.
The problem is you’re paying for something that costs almost three times more than your typical Hyundai taxi.
Many of us spend a lot of time behind the wheel, and when we’re stuck in traffic or simply not in the mood for some excitable driving, these details will pester us.
The Veloster is fast, fun, and a bit of a wild child. It can be improved dramatically with a better set of aftermarket suspension, wheels and tires plus some engine mods to help it breath better.
You can liken it to a raw, unfinished diamond in its original state. But it’s still barrels-full of fun, surprisingly fuel efficient and practical for everyday use.
Thank goodness the Veloster is finally here. We need more fun, affordable everyday hero cars that the average Juan can afford.