Review: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

I already reviewed the 2012 Veloster earlier this year on the Yummy Mummy Club. I loved it then, and was thrilled to be back in the driver’s seat of the new 2013 Turbo model.

There are a myriad of tweaks made to the Veloster Turbo to make it stand out from the non-turbo model. Unique leather seats with “Turbo” embroidered into the seatbacks. A big, gaping maw out front — presumably to help deliver additional cooling to the turbo motor. Over-sized twin pipes out back with a unique rear bumper cover. Silver-trimmed side sills. Big 18″  two-tone wheels. The overall effect is cohesive and effectively conveys the more aggressive image of the turbo model.

The Veloster in base trim is one of those cars that strikes a good balance between sporty character, comfort, and fuel efficiency. To me, it seems like the perfect commuter car for people who still want to enjoy the drive, and have something that doesn’t blend into the sea of cars at the mall on the weekends.

Twin-scroll turbochargers are known for delivering turbo power while reducing the notorious turbo-lag, or the time it takes for the turbo to build power. Learn more.

What the Veloster Turbo adds is (yes, you guessed it) a twin-scroll turbocharger to the base 1.6L motor, boosting horsepower by 63hp to a total of 201hp. This, if only just, qualifies the Veloster Turbo as a “Hot Hatch” and means the Veloster is in some  good company. The Volkswagen GTI (the grand daddy of all hot hatches), Ford Focus ST (the new kid), and the Mazdaspeed 3 (the wild one) come to mind. I think you can also put the Mini Cooper S on the list, as well. All are good cars, and worthy competitors.  So where does the Veloster fit in?

Having driven all those cars, the others have a weight and seriousness that you’d expect of more premium cars. This should make sense, since, well-optioned, all of the aforementioned cars easily break the $30,000 mark. The Veloster, by contrast, feels light and, even in turbo trim, quite easy-going. What really sets the Veloster apart is styling and value. With three doors it’s the only one to give 90% of a 4-door’s functionality with 100% of a 2-door’s looks. And, at $25,999 (the only option available is extra-cost matte paint), it comes with every feature you could want for thousands less. On paper, it’s easily the best value in the hot-hatch segment.

Despite the aesthetic enhancements, much of the base Veloster carries over to the Turbo model. The light shifter, the slightly cheap feeling cabin, and even, thankfully, the very good fuel economy. The glass roof, spacious cargo area, and great touch-screen entertainment system also carry over. The six speed manual transmission feels the same, light and effortless.

On the interior, the Turbo model’s influences are few. The new seats are great, but not really much better than the top-spec seats of the base Veloster and the sport-tuned steering is appreciated, but still feels a little numb.

The biggest difference, obviously, is the power. The Turbo Veloster has a lot more of it. If not judiciously doled-out, the little motor will spin the wheels on damp roads in second gear (I, uh, “tested” that for, um, “science”). It definitely adds a little more spice to the mix.

But, and I’m surprised to be saying this, new recipe isn’t as good as the original. The Veloster Turbo sometimes feels rough around the edges. The additional power, while nice to have, isn’t as smooth, exciting, or addictive, as it is in the VW, Mazda or Ford turbo hatches. What’s more the new flavour isn’t so much better, as it is different. The original was just-right, it was the porridge that Goldielocks ate.

So, is the a Turbo worth the extra price?  For a young, freshly-minted University grad, maybe so. If a turbocharged hatch is a must, then the thousands saved over the competitors goes a long way towards paying down student loans, or saving for that first house. For an established thirty-something, however, probably not. The regular Veloster is just so sensible, it is easily the more mature choice. Turbo or non-turbo, however, the Veloster is still one of the best values out there for a stylish, well-equipped ride.

Now, if I were looking for something sporty around the Veloster Turbo’s price, I may want to take a look at its older brother, the Genesis Coupe, actually… I wonder if Hyundai has one for me to try, I do love a good sibling rivalry.

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