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2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test Review by Tim Healey

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Road Test Review

By Tim Healey

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Makes RTM's 17th Annual
Top 10 Sexy Car Buyer's Guide

Face it, America has become a nation of excess. Too much is not enough. We won't settle for anything less than the best, and no matter how much we have, we want more, more, more.

That's all true, but sometimes we really do need more. Such is the case with the power numbers on Hyundai's Veloster. The odd little three-door hatchback provided plenty of sporty handling when it hit the road in the fall of 2011, but its 138 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque doomed it to some disdain from the motoring press. Consider these quotes from this very Website, the one that you're reading right now, published just days prior to last Christmas: "Of course, spirit is in more than the eye of the beholder. A car that looks fast may not actually be fast, and that is sadly the case with the Veloster," and, "Even when mated to a six-speed manual transmission, the Veloster feels just a wee bit short of breath. Get it rolling and get rowing with the gears, and the Veloster is fun. Trouble is, getting it going takes a fair bit of patience, and the off-the-line jump isn’t quite enough." We also said this: "Hyundai has promised a turbo, and that may cure the Veloster’s ills." This all from the same review in which we compared the car to Charlie Sheen, for whatever that's worth.

Hyundai did make good on the turbo promise, and hence we found ourselves somewhere near San Diego in the driver's seat of the
2013 Veloster Turbo. With 201 ponies now under hood and 195 lb-ft of torque twisting the front wheels, we were hopeful that all the Veloster's "ills" (which were admittedly relatively few) would be cured.

The Basics
The aforementioned turbo is the big news here, but Hyundai didn't forget to add more differentiating touches to make Turbo buyers feel better about spending the extra coin. There's an available Matte Grey paint job, unique wheels, a special Turbo-only body kit (unique front fascia, ground effects, and fog lamps), a different exhaust tune, sport-tuned steering, and LED accents for the headlights along with LED taillights. There's also heated front seats and special interior graphics.

Other than that, the Veloster Turbo is still a three-door hatch with two doors on the passenger side and one on the driver's side. Two transmissions are available: a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Unlike the non-turbo car, this automatic is not a dual-clutch unit.

Features & Prices
There's only one trim level, and standard features include: heated front seats, fog lamps, 18-inch wheels, A/C, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, cruise control, a push-button start, AM/FM radio with CD player and MP3 capability, a USB port, an auxiliary port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a seven-inch touch screen, and Hyundai's Blue Link Telematics system. The only options are the automatic transmission ($1,000) and an Ultimate Package (navigation system with rearview camera, backup warning sensors, panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, and 115-volt outlet, $2,500).

On the Road

Step on the go pedal and it's immediately clear that this is a changed car. Changed for the better, that is. It has jump now, and not just off the line. Tromp on it in third or fourth gear while hopping from corner to corner and it responds with gusto that's quite good for this class. Part of Hyundai's launch event included an autocross, and we had no trouble leaving rubber through the first part of the course when launching the car hard.

Despite the sport-tuned steering, we didn't notice a dramatic difference in steering feel on the Turbo, and we wish Hyundai would install the driver-selectable unit from the new Elantra GT. That doesn't mean that the steering feel is bad--far from it--but a little more tightness would go a long way, especially in a car that handles this well.

And the Veloster Turbo, like the non-turbo version, handles quite well indeed. It has a joy that sometimes seems to encourage playful behavior, all while still maintaining a composed ride around town and on the highway.

We'd also appreciate a slightly stiffer clutch and shifter on the manual, even though the current setup isn't bad.

Exterior
Apart from the appearance tweaks, the Turbo pretty much shares its look with the "decaf" Veloster, which means it's still a strange-looking but attractive three-door hatch. You'll notice the differences with the two cars parked side by side, but perhaps not from a distance, depending on how near-sighted you are.

Interior
Other than the unique graphics and trim, the interior doesn't change much from the non-turbo car, meaning it still has those strange but cool angular interior door pulls, angular center stack that slopes downward, and a center-stack mounted push-button start.

Fuel Economy & Safety
The Veloster Turbo has the six airbags and the usual array of safety features such as ABS, traction control, stability control, and an antiskid system.

Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg city/38 mpg highway with the manual and 25/34 with the automatic.

Wrapping Up
Ask and ye shall receive. We wanted more power in the Veloster, and we got it. There's a price premium to pay--a minimum of $4,500 over the non-turbo--but oh, is it worth it.

This is what the Veloster should have been from the get-go: a spry sportster with the kind of verve that isn't always found in small cars. We still want even more power--we always do--but we think we'd be satisfied if we were the ones writing the checks each month.

Veloster buyers no longer need to settle, and we approve.

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