The Hyundai Veloster became one of the most eye-catching cars on the market right out of the gate, but it lacked the oomph to match its unique and sporty styling. Hyundai remedied this situation for the Veloster's sophomore season by adding a little more power courtesy of some forced induction. Enter the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo.
Boasting a design that looks more like a custom SEMA-bound sport compact rather than a production sub-$30,000 hatchback, the new Veloster Turbo dives head first into the hot hatch segment with plenty of extra power and an even more aggressive design to match.
These changes should be enough to attract the enthusiast crowd, but after spending a week in Hyundai's new pocket rocket, we aim to see how the car stacks up as a daily driver.
The standard Hyundai Veloster was introduced for the 2012 model year, and immediately gave hatchback buyers something a little more exciting to be seen in compared to a traditional hatchback. Hatchbacks are generally one of the most underappreciated – sometimes loathed – bodystyles in the United States, but the Veloster is a fresh take on the hatchback, sporting funky styling that features an extra door on the passenger side. Taking Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture design language to a whole new level, the Veloster just has in-your-face styling that is hard to miss.
Even in base form, the Veloster looks like nothing else in its segment, but the Veloster Turbo makes just enough changes to fit its enhanced capabilities without looking like someone went on a J.C. Whitney shopping spree. The styling has been tweaked from every angle to give the Veloster Turbo its own distinct look, and it starts up front with a new fascia showing off a larger grille opening, round fog lights inset in black bezels and a lower chin spoiler. The Veloster's stock halogen headlights have also been swapped with projector beam headlights with LED running lights. Likewise, the rear of the car adds LED taillights, round reflectors that match the front fog lights and, our favorite element, the dual center-mounted round exhaust outlets. Lower side sills and stylish 18-inch wheels with chrome inserts finish off the Turbo-specific design changes.
Exclusive to the Veloster Turbo, our test car also came with the optional $1,000 matte gray paint job. The Veloster is, by far, the least expensive car on the market to offer a factory matte finish, and the result is stunning in person. After taking the Veloster Turbo to a car show, one person even thought it was a matte wrap. Be warned – the Veloster's matte paint job is not meant for everyone. Just as you don't see six-figure cars with matte paint going through $5 car washes, the Veloster Turbo's matte paint requires extra attention and particular care. That said, it isn't too difficult to maintain the car's paint job so long as you know what you're getting into. For this photoshoot, we just sprayed the car down to remove any road dust and dried it with a microfiber towel, but the car comes with a full list of care instructions that includes things like hand-washing only, no waxing, and, obviously, no polishing.
The Veloster is, by far, the least expensive car on the market to offer a factory matte finish, and the result is stunning in person.
The Veloster's exterior design makes it one of the most unique cars currently on sale, but step inside and those familiar with any current Hyundai products are sure to find themselves right at home. Hyundai's familiar V-shaped instrument panel fits the Veloster's attitude, and the instrument cluster has Turbo-specific gauges trimmed in blue lighting. Our only complaint about the Veloster's cabin is the placement of the start button, which is at the bottom of the center stack in a counterintuitive location.
There is no shortage of sporty little hatchbacks on the market, so Hyundai made sure that the Veloster's biggest selling point is its clever packaging. The asymmetrical four-door hatchback design allows the interior to maximize passenger space and cargo capacity without affecting the exterior design. The extra door opening on the passenger side is small, but does allow easy access to the rear seat; as opposed to the driver's side of the car, which requires the rear passenger to squeeze in behind the tilt-and-sliding seat just like a typical three-door hatchback.
The Veloster has less interior space (passenger and cargo) than similar vehicles like the Chevrolet Sonic, but instead of trying to cram in five seat belts, the four-passenger seating configuration maximizes rear hip room and makes it possible for four adults to fit in the car without a problem. With 15.5 cubic of cargo behind the rear seat, there is plenty of room for four adults and their gear inside the Veloster, and we also learned that a rear-facing child seat can fit in the back seat with the other side of the 50-50 split rear seat folded down to accommodate a large stroller. Watch the Short Cut video below to see how they fit.
All Veloster Turbos come standard with perforated leather seats, heated front seats with "Turbo" stitched into the seat backs, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, alloy pedals and plush floor mats featuring the Veloster name. One of the unique interior features of the Turbo is the blue accent trim found on the seats, door panel pull handles and the center console uprights, and while this is available as a no-cost option, our car stuck with the more conservative cabin consisting of Graphite Black leather seats with contrasting beige inserts and silver accents on the doors and center console.
Targeting the tech-savvy millennials, the Veloster Turbo includes a decent amount of standard cabin technology ranging from the 450-watt Dimension audio system to Hyundai's Blue Link Telematics system. Our test vehicle had the $2,500 Ultimate Package that includes a navigation system, backup sensors, a 115-volt outlet in the center console and a panoramic sunroof.
Instead of going up on displacement, Hyundai kept the Veloster's 1.6-liter, direct-injected inline four-cylinder in place, but added an 18-psi turbocharger for boost. Up from the base 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque, the Veloster Turbo produces 201 hp and 195 lb.-ft. putting it in the same class as the Honda Civic Si, Mini Cooper S and Volkswagen GTI. There's nothing really special about tossing a peppy engine under the hood of a small hatchback, but Hyundai really hit the Veloster Turbo out of the park when it came to fuel economy with an EPA estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and a combined rating of 30 mpg. This is also while burning regular gas, while the Si, GTI and Mini all require more expensive premium fuel, and it is almost identical to the much smaller and less powerful Fiat 500 Abarth and Chevrolet Sonic RS. Better yet, these are real-world attainable fuel economy estimates. Keep the Turbo out of its 6,000 rpm power band and you will have no problem hitting those EPA figures.
When not focused on fuel economy, the Veloster Turbo is a downright blast to drive, feeling nothing like your average, run-of-the-mill C-segment hatchback. It might not be as nimble as a GTI or as visceral as a Mazda MX-5 Miata, but it is fun and easy to drive at any speed. Speaking of the Miata, the Veloster Turbo only weighs about 400 pounds more than the iconic roadster, but it's about as close as you can get to that kind of fun from a front-wheel-drive car. Looking for better handling? The 2013 Veloster equipped with 18-inch wheels will be available with a summer performance tire upgrade as a $1,200 option. Hyundai says it has also changed the exhaust note, but this might be one of the most inconspicuous changes made to the car.
With as many changes as Hyundai made to the turbo model, the suspension tuning was left alone.
With as many changes as Hyundai made to the turbo model, the suspension tuning was left alone. The Veloster Turbo did get its own intake tuning, exhaust note, slightly bigger front brake rotors and retuned steering with a tighter ratio to help make it a little sharper in the turns, but overall it handles much the same as the standard Veloster. Our time with the car was spent driving around town, getting a feel for what it would be like having this car as a daily driver, and we were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the ride is in spite of how low it sits. Acceleration is noticeably quicker with the added boost from the turbo, but while we had the six-speed manual gearbox, we've heard the six-speed automatic is actually more fun in this car. The only grumble we could really muster about driving the Veloster Turbo was the curved rear liftgate glass that creates a distorted view.
Like all of the sporty subcompacts it competes against, the Veloster Turbo is still reasonably priced. Compared to the standard Veloster $17,450 starting price, the Veloster Turbo bumps up to $22,725 (with destination). The extra money paid for the Turbo over the standard Veloster (more than $5,000) delivers plenty of added equipment that should be well worth the money for those who want the extra performance. Add in this car's Ultimate Package and segment-exclusive matte paint job, and you're looking at an as-tested price of $26,225. Opting for the automatic transmission will run you an extra $1,000 on top of that.
At the end of our time with this attention-grabbing matte gray test car, it was clear that the 2013 Veloster Turbo is the hatchback that Americans have been (or should have been) waiting for. The Veloster Turbo has what it takes to be considered a hot hatch with its plentiful power and practical interior space, and nowhere else can buyers get the kind of styling that the Veloster Turbo offers in this affordable price range. And not that buyers will buy this car for its efficiency, but there's no other performance-oriented small car that can touch the Veloster Turbo's fuel economy.