Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE Review – Individuality Guaranteed

Head-turning looks, good fuel economy, decent handling, revvy engine, comfortable, price

Needs more power, where’s the beefy exhaust note?

Hyundai Veloster Turbo?

Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE 1.6GDi review

Hyundai released the Veloster in 2012, and with a bold and appealing design it stood out from the crowd in a big way. However, performance with the naturally-aspirated was an issue, as the Veloster’s looks were deceiving. I.e. it looked fast but wasn’t. Late 2012, and Hyundai rolls out a new edition with a big hike in power, torque and performance – enter the Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE.

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE 1.6GDi

The Veloster Turbo is not a regular-looking car, whichever way you look at it. This Turbo’s looks are all about aggression. It’s an in-your-face design so eye-catching it’ll give whip lash to onlookers. There are deep lines and cuts sculpted out of the bodywork all the way around, giving whoever’s viewing it an eye-full as you drive past their open-mouthed gapes.

I was sent the Veloster Turbo in the £525 option Matt Grey paintwork, and it’s probably the most effective colour for it. Yes, there’s the bright burnt orange ‘Vitamin C’ colour, or the rather fetching ‘Blue Ocean’ hue, but as nice as these are, the matt grey will get you noticed the most. It gives the Hyundai an edgy military vibe – something very stealthy. It’d go nicely in a Batman film too. The paintwork is beautifully done actually, and if you want to own the car in it, be prepared to answer “No” to the question “Is it vinyl”. A lot.

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I was invited to a car show while I had the Veloster Turbo, and as a experiment decided to enter the car early in the day, which was then closely surrounded by stunning cars such as the Lotus Esprit V8, Citroën 11CV, Bentley Turbo R, Nissan GT-R, Chevrolet Chevelle, plus a smattering of old MG’s and a couple of Porsche’s dotted here and there.

Observing from a distance, throughout the course of a few hours the Veloster Turbo got a huge amount of attention, as people physically made a bee-line for the car. They poured over its lines, some sliding their hands over the flared arches and delves in the bonnet, feeling the texture of the paintwork and cupping their hands to the glass to see inside. Some, but very few in fact, noticed the Veloster only has one door at the rear – cheekily pulling at the handle to see if it’d open. No chance you scamps. Shows it’s hidden well though.

Hyundai Veloster review Turbo SE 1.6GDi review

The age of those viewing the Turbo closely was vastly mixed too – I guess if a car is conspicuous, it just is to anyone. The people I did talk to about the car has positive things to say, although something I did find was that people either liked the front but disliked the rear, or vice versa, with only a few liking the entirety of the design. I’m one of those few, as I like the somewhat pugnacious appearance of the front with its piercing eyes and shouty mouth-of-a-grille – which looks like it’s bellowing ‘mooooove’.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE 1.6GDi review

The side’s feature puffed-out arches and strong lines, while the upper rear glass and quarter pinches in in a very GT-R/370Z likeness. And that’s certainly no bad thing. Around to the rear, and there’s still a brawniness about the Veloster. Viewed from straight on, the rear arches poke out like a wannabe Touring car’s, and there’s also great big gouges cut out either side of the boot lid next to the lights, like the points of a dagger. Below that there’s a large cut-out which houses two chrome exhaust barrels large enough to be noticeable, and further down Hyundai have finished off the look with a decent-sized diffuser. Should this be a real touring car, it would look utterly amazing.

Hyundai Veloster review Turbo SE 1.6GDi  matt grey review

Anything I’d change? The gap between the wheels and arches is slightly too much – an inch or two lower and it’d be perfect. The black grille of the gaping mouth at the front is missing something, and it’s maybe too bare. Overall though, should you like being tailgated by yoof’s in modded hot hatches trying to work out what car this is (only to be shocked by the fact it’s a Hyundai), or gawped at by almost every person on the street, then you sir or madam, need a Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE in matt grey.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

For the Veloster to look like it does on the outside, Hyundai’s designer’s would have to be very stupid to leave it with an interior as boring as a potato. Happily, they’ve followed up with a respectably decent one. The Turbo SE has as standard a lot of nice kit. This is, after all, a company part-sharing with Kia, and as we all know Kia is super-hot on filling their vehicles as much kit as possible, making this Hyundai very temping for the price.

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A quick look at the sheet containing the Turbo SE’s standard specification, and I suddenly realise the list is enormous. There are approximately 36 separate features on it, and I’m not talking about silly things like ‘heated rear windscreen’ or ‘power windows’. No, this ‘standard spec’ list comprises of things like a 7″ touchscreen media centre with satellite navigation, a rear-view parking camera and guidance system, tyre pressure monitoring, keyless entry, push-button engine start/stop, an amp and subwoofer, two-stage heated seats, full leather seats front and rear with stitched door panels, climate control, heated door mirrors, front, front side and curtain airbags – and the list goes on. In fact, the only physical thing you can option when configuring the Veloster is a £950 panoramic sunroof. This is not a £30 -£40,000 car – it’s a snip over £22,000 for goodness sake.

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Visually, the interior is modern, luxurious and a shade different from most cars. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, while the rear has just two proper seats, the centre having been made into a twin cup holder and storage space for a smartphone or two. I respect Hyundai for the seating decision. So many cars boast of having three rear seats, when in reality the middle passenger suffers from lack of shoulder room while simultaneously being poked in their back by the fold-away armrest. The Veloster’s rear seats are shaped and angled nicely while legroom is also ample, and any passengers I had liked them.

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The rear headroom would be an issue, but Hyundai have cleverly cut out the roof above the passengers heads, replacing it with glass that is is attached to the boot lid. This also serves to make the rear feel a lot less claustrophobic. The headlining itself is unusual, sporting a progressive spotted pattern instead of the usual flat black, grey or cream colour most cars have. With the one door in the rear, access is easier, and there’s the added benefit of the power window on one side too, meaning it feels less cave-like.

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The centre console is well thought out, and cool-looking too. In fact, it looks almost exactly like a Transformers head. The buttons and dials are soft-touch and silent, with a quality feel and finish to them. The driver’s analogue dials are backlit blue, and set deep enough back in their individual pods to view easily in harsh sunlight. The LCD display for the fuel and water temperature is obviously not as modern as the LED displays that are used in a lot of cars not, but it seems to somehow work really well here.

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There’s controls for the usual stereo stuff, phone and cruise control on the steering wheel, and these are set out in an easy-to-use fashion, although I don’t think they have a quality look about them in all honesty. The general fit and finish of the Veloster’s cabin is good, and it’s got plenty of soft-touch, rubbery plastics over the traditional hard stuff some manufacturers still insist on using.

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The boot space is actually pretty decent, as you’d think it was tiny looking at the car, but with 320 litres (seats up) there’s enough room for a couple of large(ish) suitcases. The seats also fold down too, should you need more room. Points I didn’t like about the Veloster’s interior were that brightness for the touchscreen/sat nav system could not be turned down enough for night driving, and was both distracting and eyeball-achingly bright, even on the lowest setting. The ‘floating’ interior door handles might be nice to look at, but they just didn’t feel like they would last well. They’re only bolted at the bottom, and a few people said they felt like they’d snap if they were pulled too hard. They might not, but they still felt too shonky for my liking.

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Engine and gearbox

Hyundai offer the Veloster with a 1.6 litre petrol non-turbo engine, which is neither powerful or fast. The Turbo SE version is again a 1.6 litre, 16-valve, 4-cylinder DOHC petrol, but with the obvious turbo bolted on (T-GDi model), and it’s driven through the front wheels. Surprisingly though, the Hyundai still isn’t that quick. 0 – 62 mph (0 – 100 kph) comes up in rather disappointing 8.4 seconds, and with a top speed of 133 mph, the average turbo-diesel rep-mobile would probably overtake you should the straight be long enough.

Power is quoted as 184 bhp @ 5500 rpm , plus a decent 195 lbs ft (265 Nm) of torque. Here’s the thing about the Hyundai Veloster Turbo’s engine though – that zero to sixty mph time might not be blistering, but once the car is rolling it’s got a lot of usable power for the average drive or blast down a country road. The engine absolutely loves to be revved, and that aforementioned torque band is wide, starting from just 1,500 rpm right up to 4,500 rpm. Once you’ve gone past that, you get another little surge as the power keeps on the giving up to fifty-five hundred rpm.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE 1.6GDi Engine review

I’ll talk more about how the engine performs in the next section, but what I will say now is that the Veolster Turbo SE is still not powerful or fast enough. If you’re going to design a car that looks like it’d rival a Subaru WRX STi or Mitsubishi Evo for face-shaping action, then you’d best give it an engine to go with that vibe. The Veloster Turbo has really great potential, and while it’s not completely slug-like, I think a tuning package offering from Hyundai would do it the world of good.

What the Veloster Turbo has got going for it in a big way is the fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures. The fuel economy numbers quoted are; Urban: 30.4, Extra Urban: 51.4 and Combined: 40.9. In the real-world, on a country road run at around sixty to seventy miles per hour, I managed 38 mpg, while a long run in the same conditions at 50 mph returned an indicated 47 miles per gallon average. Those are rather impressive returns for a petrol turbo engine, and it’s certainly a selling point. If you’re in the U.K., the Turbo’s 157 g/km emissions currently equate to £175.00 per year  tax rate (Aug. 2013), which isn’t bad.

The gearbox on the Veloster Turbo is a 6-speed manual, and no automatic unless you buy the naturally-aspirated version. It’s a decent-enough box, with positive changes and ratio’s that are good enough for both city or motorway driving, where the long sixth means an under-stressed engine and a quiet ride at speed.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Slide into the Voloster Turbo SE, press the Engine Start Stop button and the dash and dial glow into life. Around the edge of the starter, it glows orange, anticipating your next move. Depress the clutch to the floor, push the start control and the engine fires into life without hesitancy, the orange ring turning a cool blue. There’s also a distinct lack of drama at this point. Looking at the rear of the Veloster Turbo, you’d expect those twin exhausts ports to crackle into life, growling and snarling like a rally car, but no. There’s a wee bit more noise than a standard set-up, and I detected a touch of a growl, although that all-but disappears once you’re moving.

Car Products Tested review of the Hyundai Veloster review Turbo SE 1.6GDi

More than one person asked me to start the Veloster Turbo, and I was slightly embarrassed to do so. Oh sure, they were polite enough and mentioned it had a bit of a noise, but I knew all along they were as discontented as me with it, and so they should be I say! No, the Turbo doesn’t have to sound like some boy-racer’s hatch with a bean-can back-box, but a more tasty exhaust system would be a very welcome option to owners.

Hyundai Veloster turbo se 1.6GDi review pedals speedo engine start button and gear shifter

Once you’ve moved off, you do suddenly realise just how quiet the Hyundai is inside the cabin. It’s much more refined than you’d expect, and both road and wind noise are way more than acceptable. The suspension is also well set-up, as you’ve got easily enough softness to be comfortable on poorly-maintained roads – the deep seats helping out further – while there’s also enough sportiness to be happy with. The European/U.K. version has firmer dampers for better handling, and torque that starts earlier in the rev-range than the American version, but then theirs makes 201 bhp @ 6,000 rpm.

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While the Veloster’s handling might be acceptable, I tested the 2013 Peugeot 208 GTi and the comparison between the two cars in terms of chassis and steering qualities feels quite far apart. The Veloster is almost too soft and sluggish in comparison with the GTi’s go-kart-like handling, but then to an extent they are a different breed. Take the Veloster fast around a tight bend, and its front tyres squeal and squirm before inevitably pushing out, ensuing in understeer, which is when the ESP (electronic stability programme) curbs your acceleration, bringing you back in line safely. It’s not bad, but I felt it still needed firmer dampers to reduce the roll and limit understeer.

Hyundai Veloster review Turbo SE 1.6GDi review

On the safety point, the Veloster comes standard with ABS of course, then there’s also Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) to make sure you don’t get out of shape too much when braking hard in bends or in slippery conditions, a Brake Assist System which applies 100% of braking power during an emergency stop (as apparently most drivers don’t in those type of situations), plus Vehicle Stability Management, which takes into account steering input. All in all, it’s a very safe car if things do go awry for you, and the 5-star Euro NCAP rating gives a peace of mind too.

Hyundai Veloster review Turbo SE 1.6GDi review

Back to driving, and as I mentioned in the last section, the Veloster Turbo is rev-happy. The dial will push round the counter with vigour, and just when you think it’ll give no more, it does, and it’s perfect if you’re heading up steep, hilly roads, especially with the torque maxing out high. While I maintain the Veloster Turbo needs more power, you can still have a lot of fun driving this car, and it still has the legs to overtake cars doing sixty or seventy mph with relative ease, and making the engine work hard to rewarding as well. If you do want to do licence-losing speeds, the Turbo will respond to your naughty right foot by heading into triple figures with no real hardship or stress.

As a car to travel long distances in, the Hyundai Veloster Turbo is a good ‘un. Decent fuel economy, a quiet and roomy cabin with good boot space, plus a good stereo with quality sound, alongside a sat nav system that works well and suspension that deals satisfactorily with rough roads, means you’ll have a pleasant road trip overall.

Price

Although the Hyundai is a unique car in the looks department, it’s still got coupe rivals, of course. Hyundai say it’s in competition with the Vauxhall Astra GTC SRi 1.6i 16v Turbo and Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI 160 PS, so let’s have a brief look at those. In comparison, the Veloster Turbo’s zero to sixty mph time is slower than both the above, but only by half a second. However, it’s got more torque and power than the Vauxhall and VW, and when it comes to price, beats them hands-down.

The Veloster Turbo SE is priced at just over £22,000 on the road, including the matt grey paint. Running the configurator on both the rivals, and adding similar spec, the Astra is £3,000 more, while the Scirocco is a hefty £4,500 extra. That’s a lot of cash difference between the cars, and the thing is, the Hyundai is still built well and has the quality to go up against the VW and Vauxhall, and you can’t ignore the fact the Veloster includes a huge – and very much free – 5-year, unlimited milage warranty.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE 1.6GDi review

Here’s another quick point – if you’re considering the mid-range Veloster Sport, don’t bother. The Turbo SE is only around £2,000 more, and while there’s barely any difference in fuel economy between the models, the Turbo SE is way quicker.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE verdict & score

The Veloster Turbo SE is yet another decent car from the Korean’s, who’s relentless quest to provide us with low-priced, good-quality cars seems to be working rather well. And, at the end of the day, this competition is making other manufactures re-think their pricing. Good. Packed with enough tech and safety equipment to keep you happy, the Veloster is also priced superbly too, making it very tempting to those in the market for a good-looking coupé.

I like the Veloster Turbo, but its power and speed simply do not match its fighter-jet looks. This could be a stupendously cracking car with a further power hike, slightly stiffer suspension and a beefy exhaust note. Hyundai need to offer customers the option of these things, or a separate model altogether, and it’d then be a no-brainer for your hard-earned cash.

Do you own a Hyundai Veloster Turbo? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  9
Interior  8
Engine (Turbo)  7
Gearbox  7
Price  8
Drive  7.5
Overall Score  7.5 / 10 

  Specs

Model (as tested)  Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE manual
Spec includes  Leather upholstery, parking sensors, reverse camera with guidance, sat nav, 7″ touchscreen, bluetooth connection, 18″ alloy wheels, LED running lights, power & heated mirrors  See spec sheet for more
Options you should spec  Panoramic sunroof (£950)
Price (as tested)  £22,120
Engine  1.6 litre petrol, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged
Power, Torque, CO2  184 bhp, 195 lb ft (265 Nm) | CO2: 157 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Front wheel drive | 6-speed manual
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 133 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 8.4 seconds | 5-star Euro NCAP
Fuel economy (mpg)  Urban: 30.4, Extra Urban: 51.4, Combined: 40.9
Weight (kerb)  1,313 kg (2,894 lbs)
Websites  Hyundai UK, Hyundai USA, Hyundai Worldwide

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Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Jason Fanthorpe, Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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