Road Test: Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Sector: Coupe Price: £21,995 Fuel: 40.9mpg CO2: 157g/km
There are some cars which, regardless of faults, niggles or eventual sales volume, have the sort of irrepressible character which you can tell will make them a cult classic. The Hyundai Veloster Turbo is one of them.
That's not saying the standard one is short of character. Love it or loathe it, you at least have to admire Hyundai’s courage and lack of care for conventions or manufacturing costs. The Veloster has the unusual selling point of being a four-door car – a long one on the driver’s side, two small ones on the passenger side and a tailgate at the back – which requires completely different bodyshells and interiors for left and right hand drive markets. It's utterly bonkers.
So consider this as the counter-argument to those who say modern cars have become a bit samey. Hunkered over large wheels, wrapped in heavily flared arches and pushed out to the extremities of the car, it’s distinctive to the point of being unmistakeable and has fantastic on-road presence. This is car which completely divides opinions, and it’s all the better for it.
All of which made the non-turbo Veloster a real disappointment. Its 1.6-litre petrol engine offered neither the pace nor the soundtrack to feel as electric to drive as the looks suggested. It handled fairly well, but felt fairly ordinary and had a thirst for fuel too. Great though it looked, you’d struggle to argue a case for actually buying one in the UK.
The Turbo is entirely different. It’s essentially the same engine, but now turbocharged to pump out 184bhp. This isn’t ground breaking, by any means, and it's 20bhp less than in some markets, but it transforms the car. Squeeze the throttle at almost any point above 2,000rpm and it’ll pick up and go, hang onto any gear and as it reaches 4,000rpm it growls towards the redline with entertaining urgency.
By not overpowering the chassis there’s as much fun to be had on winding roads. Ride quality is on the stiff side, but it’s far from unpleasant, there’s not much body roll to spoil the fun, and plenty of grip. Sharp steering, stiff suspension and that snarly engine add up to a Veloster which finally feels as sporty as you’d want it to.
So much so, that it’s now impossible to recommend the standard Veloster. The Turbo is just 3.5mpg thirstier, emits only 9g/km more CO2 and it’s a meagre £1,400 more expensive at the front end. But if you love how it looks and you’re expecting a sports car, it’s worth every penny extra to opt up to the most powerful version. You really won’t regret it.
Without an efficient, punchy small diesel engine there’s really only one Veloster worth considering. This feels every bit the responsive small coupe you’d want it to, and if you love the looks then the performance isn’t likely to disappoint. Good fun in an unconventional package.