2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo 6MT
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo 6MT. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
First Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
Test Drive: 2012 Mini Cooper S JCW

Manufacturer’s web site
Hyundai Canada

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

When Hyundai released the Veloster last year, it was met with mixed reactions. Some loved the styling, others did not. Some loved the way it handled and rode, others did not. Some loved the asymmetrical door configuration, others did not. However, nearly everyone agreed that the Veloster was in need of more power. At only 138 hp, the little two, three, four-door hatchback was tepid to say the least. Responding to customer demand, or probably planned all along, Hyundai has been quick to address this issue in a way only Hyundai could—full out. While some manufacturers would be good with a revised intake here and a tuned exhaust there producing a few extra ponies or tighter suspension and stickier tires, Hyundai has swung for the fences and developed an all-new turbocharged version of its 1.6L four-cylinder engine to increase horsepower by 46 percent.

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo 6MT
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo 6MT
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo 6MT
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo 6MT
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo 6MT. Click image to enlarge

But don’t fooled; the Veloster Turbo isn’t just an engine upgrade. On the outside the new model receives a unique look through revised front fascia, fog lights, lower body styling treatments and 18-inch alloy wheels with chrome inserts. The side mirrors feature turn-signal indicators and the Turbo’s projector headlights contain unique LED accents. Rounding out the exterior mods is a pair of new LED taillights in the rear. Inside there is a SuperVision cluster, which should be annotated as two words to sound like ‘Super’ ‘Vision’ as opposed to ‘supervision’—the cluster is not watching over you.

I am not a fan of the new front-end design that is dominated by a giant mouth. At the back of the vehicle I am equally unimpressed by the big circular rear reflectors that look like they were inspired by county road driveway markers. However, as a package, and in orange, it is a cool, distinct assembly of offbeat angles; the Veloster Turbo received attention everywhere I went. I like the dual exhaust tips, the turbo exclusive rims and the stylish LEDs up front. It is too bad there are no HIDs on this vehicle as they would tie in nicely with the headlight mounted LED lighting. As it stands now, the contrast in lighting hues do not seem right. And while on the topic of lights, the LED taillights look downright cool.

But enough about the looks; let’s get back to the turbocharged engine. The 1.6L inline-four produces a very healthy 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque that is available at just 1,750 rpm. That is a serious amount of power for a 1,243-kg car and puts it in the same range as the three competitors Hyundai states are the Veloster Turbo’s targets: the Honda Civic Si, Mini Cooper S Hatchback, and Volkswagen GTI. If you take issue with those choices, complain to Hyundai, not me.

Hammer down on the accelerator pedal and the Veloster’s turbo makes a strange fluttering sound as it builds boost and launches towards the horizon. This car is fast, but not as fast I was hoping for. My butt-dyno doesn’t rate it as quick as the GTI, but quicker than a Civic Si or Cooper S (thought not the JCW). This is understandable, because although the GTI makes similar ‘claimed’ horsepower, it is 20 percent larger in displacement, produces more torque, and is notoriously underrated in terms of power. Aside from the Civic Si, these seem like lofty goals for competitors and I would foresee the Veloster Turbo battling it out amongst the ‘junior’ hot hatch crowd with the likes of the Fiat 500 Abarth.

The Veloster Turbo is available with either a six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. My test vehicle came equipped with the manual that features easy to slot gears, and while not the most direct, it is intuitive and requires little effort to operate. Thanks to a cruising speed of 2,350 rpm at 100 km/h and 2,800 rpm at 120 km/h, the Veloster Turbo has more than enough torque to accelerate the car in sixth gear on the highway. This should add up to impressive fuel economy as the rpms are kept relatively low and there is no need to downshift. However, I was unable to replicate the official Natural Resources Canada numbers of 7.9 L/100 km in the city and 5.2 L/100 km on the highway; I achieved a turbo-boost-inspired 9.3 L/100 km average.

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