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Learning To Love Understand You



I will admit, I haven't had the nicest things to say about our long-term 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo since its arrival in our fleet earlier this year. I can't exactly say that I've bonded with our turbocharged Hyundai, despite the fact that I've driven it quite a bit since its arrival in the Autoblog Garage. Several of my friends will no doubt recall me saying things like, "I love everything about this car – except driving it," which is a shame, since the driving aspect is what's supposed to make this car so special. I'm a big fan of the base Veloster, and this one has the extra power bump that the naturally aspirated could really benefit from. So what gives?

Recently, I took a trip to the south of France, where I drove the brand-new Ford Fiesta ST along the lovely roads of the Alps. I adored that car – it's everything a hot hatch should be, and it's priced right, too. But when I came home and picked up the Veloster Turbo at the airport, I found myself disappointed. The Ford I drove in Europe was similar to the Hyundai in terms of size, function, equipment and price, but it was far better to drive. To be fair, that car wasn't even out to benchmark when the Veloster Turbo debuted, but my already sour feelings only got worse at that moment.

But this matte gray cloud does have a silver lining. And all it takes is a bit of rethinking.


As it turns out, I'm not the only one who's felt sort of let down by the Veloster Turbo. Just about everyone I've talked to from our staff isn't filled with warm fuzzies, and a lot of that comes down to the fact that while the car looks good on paper, it's a totally different story out on the road. The suspension hasn't changed from the base car (where it actually feels suitable and very well-sorted), the steering isn't great and the transmission is geared for economy rather than performance, not to mention the fact that the six cogs are accessed through a gearbox that's hardly engaging.

What we all need to do is stop focusing on pure performance.

What we need is a different point of view. What we all need to do is stop focusing on pure performance.

When you stop thinking of the Veloster Turbo as a proper hot hatch, your mindset shifts. The Veloster Turbo feels more like a good first attempt at a sporty compact car, and honestly, I think Kia got this formula right when it announced the new five-door Forte with the same 201-horsepower turbocharged engine. That car isn't being billed as a hot hatch, because it isn't. But since this Veloster wears red Turbo badges and has all those aggressive styling bits, people automatically assume it's a proper sports car, even though Hyundai itself says it isn't really to be considered in the same breath as cars like a Cooper S or even larger offerings like a Volkswagen GTI, despite the similar power numbers.



I think there are a lot of things that are appealing about the Veloster's package regardless of what engine you find underhood. For young folks looking for something unique, it checks all the right boxes: it looks different, it's packed full of useful technology, it's functional and it's affordable. Strip away the matte paint and summer tire option, and our car's $27,520 as-tested price drops to $25,320, yet it still includes things like heated leather seats, navigation with a full suite of infotainment options, 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof and more. Want something bigger, like a non-ST Ford Focus with the same levels of equipment? You're looking at $27,280. And our turbocharged Veloster, while not exactly amazing from behind the wheel, is far closer to Focus-levels of engagement, though the Ford is indeed more functional from an overall interior volume perspective.

My outlook on the next several months with our Hyundai will be a more optimistic one.

The bottom line is, if you want a hot hatch, don't buy a Veloster Turbo. Even trying to call this thing a value compared to things like a Fiesta ST isn't worth it, since the extra money you're spending for those cars is made up for with a more performance-oriented driving experience. But if you're shopping for a compact car with pizzaz and smart tech, the Veloster Turbo is a pretty nice package overall. It's more expensive than less powerful and more traditional B-segmenters like a Honda Fit or Chevrolet Sonic, but if you don't need all the room of larger offerings like a Cruze or Focus, this turbo Hyundai is worth considering.

This in mind, my outlook on the next several months with our Veloster will be a more optimistic one. I still don't love it (yet), but at least now, I understand it. Stay tuned to see if my coworkers follow my lead.


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  • 81 Comments
      d
      • 1 Year Ago
      I found it to be a fine car, just not $25k fine. For $25k the car should have a proper suspension. For the same money you can buy a Genesis coupe. A car from the same maker that trounces the Veloster Turbo in every category except for cargo volume. I'd argue that the Veloster is a bit better looking, but at least the Genesis isn't based on the Accent. You can also buy a Scion FR-S that will leave you with a never ending grin. It is the best driving car for less than $30k. Not the fastest but by far the most entertaining. When it comes down to it there is absolutely no reason to buy a Veloster Turbo. The added power doesn't really make the car better than the base model.
      Wally SirFatty
      • 1 Year Ago
      "...more like a good first attempt at a sporty compact car." I thought that was the Tiburon?
      ChrisH
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would not buy one, but I do like how they look on the road. So perhaps base models are the way to go, I just see it this way, the more hatches on the road the closer we get to their general acceptance.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Quite polarizing looks.
      Jason
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'd say this car is more on par with the goofy looks and poor performance of the Honda CR-Z. If you're going to charge this kind of a premium for a "performance" model, it should be more along the lines of the Mazda 3 and Speed3, with 70% more power, larger brakes, stiffer suspension, *and* the swoopy bling and badges that claim to be faster. Maybe if the Turbo badge had come in matte gray as well... hrmmm.
        A_Guy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jason
        The CR-Z looks much better than this but you're right about the performance comparison. The pricing on this is starts a cool $2000 higher than a 2013 lithium-ion CR-Z though. I'd rather have the Honda. Love that matte grey though!
      AcidTonic
      • 1 Year Ago
      This.... Then complain about trunk space, rattles, and poor interior on the WRX/EVO models which are all about performance and not comfort or luxury. Very amusing how hard they are trying to spin this car in a positive light when there isn't one..... Then hammer on other cars that actually do performance well, and say they aren't comfy.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
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          • 1 Year Ago
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        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
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      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can' believe someone as respected as Schreyer would let the Crapdai Velosturd go into production looking like that.
      Hello, Brian
      • 1 Year Ago
      So, basically, it\'s ugly, has little utility, and is not much fun to drive, but it can be fairly well optioned-up for just over $25K. Thanks, but I will pass.
        Mondrell
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hello, Brian
        I can't fault Ewing for not resigning to misery, but I'm also not buying his rationale. There are simply too many personal capsule choices with a wider breadth of talent for similar money that may not offer the feature value of the Veloster Turbo, but are far better resolved and sensible overall. If you're more into style and features, then why pony up for a turbo engine this particular application fails to effectively utilize?
      Todd Fleming
      • 1 Year Ago
      sorry but I cant get over the looks of the Veloster, ugly as _ _ _ _ ! It's clearly overdone like a crispy tenderloin, yet now you add in the fact it really has no beef, that's full of fat!
      Mazdaspeed6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unlike some german and japanese makers that consistently underrate their engines, Hyundai/Kia always seems to overate. One brother currently has a sonata Turbo (270 hp) and the other had a genesis coupe (306), yet neither come close to delivering the performance their hp implies.
        Scooter
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        Inflated HP numbers dont equate to a well crafted transmission and overall engine. Kia/Hyundai chase shock value and gimmicks for sales.
      David
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh? The car you drove in Europe was similar in size and function? That's odd, considering the Fiesta is minuscule inside compared with the Veloster, has worthless rear seats, a cargo area that doesn't fold flat (or even close to flat), a fraction of the equipment on-board, and all of it packaged in a cheap, nightmarish (ergonomically-speaking) dashboard. Yeah, they're so similar ... not! The Fiesta GT may be a fun drive, but I wouldn't want to live with it as my daily driver!
        Dayv
        • 1 Year Ago
        @David
        I sat in the back seat of a Veloster when I was considering buying one. To try to defend the Veloster on the basis of it having a more usable back seat is like telling someone they should go out and get syphilis because it's more curable than herpes.
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Does Hyundai give gas cards to customers who end up returning their crappy Velosturds?
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