Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 16, 2016
So when you buy a Veloster, what do you tell your insurance company? Is it a two-door coupe? A 5-door hatchback? Perhaps you’ll tell them the truth and say that the Veloster really only has three doors. You see, the Veloster sports an odd asymmetric door layout, whereby the driver’s side has only one door, while the passenger’s side has two.
The Veloster isn't actually the first car to do this. In 1999, Saturn released their SC Coupe that featured a driver-side-only suicide rear door. It's an interesting choice of design and oddly gives the Veloster a two-sided coin appeal: one face gives the appearance of a sporty two-door hatch, while the other shows off its more practical and family-friendly side with enough room for four.
You’ve got to love its tenacity in defying the norm and embracing such a unique design – the first reaction from passengers is usually “that’s the worst idea ever,” followed by “why not just give it four doors, life would be so much easier.” But that’s not the point. If you wanted regular and easier, you would be buying a Volkswagen Golf. But the Veloster is the irregularity, the anomaly, the one hatch that dares to think outside the box.
Its sheetmetal reflects this and sure the proportions might be a bit off, but this hunchback looks incredibly muscular, has poise on the road, and those huge center-exit exhaust pipes looks like they’ve been pulled straight out of a supercar. The Veloster has been given a few updates for 2016 as well, with new 18-inch wheels for the Turbo model, a revised hood without vent accents, a darker grill surround, and slightly wider tires (a 10-mm increase up to 225/40R18).
The interior isn’t a bad place to spend time in either, with new seat designs and a nicer gauge cluster. Contrary to its taut exterior, the interior is huge. The first time we opened up the rear hatch, we were awe striken by how deep the trunk was, and there was even a spare tire hidden underneath the mat.
The amount of cargo space is impressive compared to its boxier proportioned rivals in this segment like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Fiesta, but where the Veloster suffers is with back seat headroom. Due to the sleekly angled roofline, taller passengers will have a hard time keeping their scalp in pristine condition. Squeezing into the small rear entry portals aren't an easy feat either, but at least there’s an expansive panoramic sunroof that will keep feelings of claustrophobia back there at bay.
The rest of the interior is nicely laid out. The seats are well bolstered and very supportive, better than others in its segment actually. Dashboard panels and material quality don’t feel cheap, and the infotainment display is small but lends a helping hand with an easy to follow interface. Heated seats and a heated steering wheel come standard on the Turbo trim, as well a much welcomed rear view camera and Bluetooth connectivity.
But the best part? That engine start button perched right on the center stack right below the HVAC controls – pushing it feels like a million bucks. After all, it’s always the small things that matter.
The Veloster we tested was the Turbo variant, the more expensive trim in the ladder. With that, the base 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine gets upgraded with a turbocharger, boosting power figures from 132-hp to 201-hp, and 120 lb-ft to 195 lb-ft. That’s quite a big disparity – such is the power of forced induction.
But with it came a fair bit of turbo lag. Pressing the throttle at any speed is met with a pause while boost builds, following by a somewhat startling thrust forward. Most of the time we were caught off guard by the sudden boost, and despite its wide spread of torque, living in the low range of the powerband is not met with reward. The Veloster’s playground is past 3,500 rpm. It is only here where you’re guaranteed a few smirks and smiles.
The turbocharged GDI engine feels powerful, but don’t expect a smooth powertrain like the Golf’s 1.8-litre turbo engine. The Veloster has a lot of thrust, but it comes on too suddenly and too unexpectedly. It didn’t help that the accelerator had an annoying initial dead spot on the pedal, making it quite hard to modulate the amount of gas you want to give.
Don’t get me wrong, the Veloster isn’t slow, nor is it moving at turtle place, but don’t expect to pull up at a red light and try to keep up with a Golf GTI or Fiesta ST – those vehicles are in another performance and price league.
Straight out of the box, the Veloster Turbo doesn’t come close to its rivals in the performance department, but there is so much tuning potential that I don’t think many owners will keep it stock for very long. With a starting price that undercuts its competitors, the extra dough could be spent on some hard and rewarding upgrades. All it needs is a few dashes of salt and pepper. We’ve been seeing some pretty cool mods and builds at local car meets, and would love to build one ourselves some day.
Though it may not win in a straight line, the Veloster makes up for it in auditory drama. No other car in this segment produces this much turbo whoooooosh that you can audibly heard from the driver’s seat. We owe some of this to what Hyundai calls “Active Sound Design,” which artificially pumps some intake and exhaust noise into the cabin for a fuller experience. It’s surely entertaining, and we’re not complaining.
The Veloster gets a rather stiff suspension setup. It is much more rigid than its rivals, but somehow it works well for this car. The Veloster offers a flatter and more composed ride without shimmies riding up the chassis. It’s not the most comfortable of the bunch, but it feels planted and relaxed.
Corners are its forte, and though its front-wheel drive setup is inevitably prone to understeer, the Veloster uses a brake-based torque vectoring system to apply braking force to the inside front wheel, so that the car can rotate faster and power out of corners earlier. Simply by lifting off the throttle and letting the hatch regain its composure will give you the confidence to tackle some hairy pins on backroads.
A 6-speed manual comes standard, but new for 2016 is a familiar 7-speed dual clutch transmission ($1,500) that also made an appearance in the Tuscon crossover that we tested a few months back. It’s a wonderfully crisp automatic that shifts smoothly and responds quite adequately, though at low speeds it may stumble and hesitate for a second before fully engaging. It’s not as hasty or as reactive as a Golf’s DSG, but it does make up for a bit of the engine’s turbo lag as it doesn’t need prodding of the paddles to have the appropriate gear selected on demanding roads.
The Veloster is the quirkest hatch on the market, standing out not for its performance credentials or value incentives, but for its unique and enjoyable appeal. It may not be as refined as a Golf or as exciting as a Fiesta, but quirky is sometimes just what a market needs, and the smartly packaged Veloster fills that void with a powerful turbocharged engine and bold exterior styling.
型号 Model: 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
顏色 Paint Type: Boston Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $27,199 (6MT)
試車售價 Price as Tested: $28,699 (DCT)
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,650
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,250 / 1,805 / 1,405
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,335
引擎 Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged GDI four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 195 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 8.9 / 7.1 / 8.1
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 8.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 225/40R18