2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition Quick Spin [w/video]
A Long Way From Our Long-Termer
EngineTurbo 1.6L I4
Power201 HP / 195 LB-FT
0-60 Time7.1 Seconds (est)
Curb Weight2,900 LBS
Cargo34.7 CU-FT (max)
MPG25 City / 33 HWY
As Tested Price$24,775
Best Deal Price$17,837
Our reaction to this Rally Edition was lukewarm when it debuted earlier this year at the Chicago Auto Show. You can imagine, then, our trepidation with the arrival of the matte blue tester. As it turned out, a week behind the wheel proved that Hyundai has addressed a number of the complaints we lodged during our prior year-long Veloster test.
- There was only so much Hyundai could do to the Veloster during this year's mid-cycle refresh. That means the 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder is still there, writing checks its performance can't cash. We still get 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which is available between 1,750 and 4,500 rpm.
- Despite the generous torque spread, there's no sense of urgency with this engine. Pair that with the still persistent turbo lag, and the Veloster Turbo feels slower from behind the wheel than other hot hatches, even less powerful competitors like the Fiat 500 Abarth.
- There were a number of complaints about our Veloster Turbo's fuel economy during our year behind the wheel. At 24 miles per gallon, this Rally Edition managed to come in just under the EPA-estimated 25-mpg city rating, improving measurably on the less than 22 mpg Senior Editor Miersma returned in his long-term wrap-up. Still, we were four mpg below the 28-mpg combined rating in what was largely mixed driving.
- Aside from the unchanged powertrain, the Rally Edition brings a lot to the Veloster Turbo package worth liking. The inclusion of a B&M Racing short-throw shifter makes this gearbox not only easier but also far more enjoyable to manipulate, although the gearing is still too tall for our taste. The shift knob is just the right size, and the shift action feels rifle-bolt precise. It is delightful, aside from an annoying, almost inexcusable flaw, which you can see in the video below.
- According to Hyundai, the Rally Edition boasts more aggressive springs, dampers, and sway bars than even the racier R-Spec model. It does feel better on the road than our old long-termer. Turn-in is decidedly sharper, and there's less roll than before. It also feels better poised through the bends, still prone to understeer but giving the impression that there's more to this funky hatch than before. We didn't notice any of sidestepping or shimmying when presented with a mid-corner imperfection, which was a constant source of annoyance in our long-term car.
- Any hot hatch worth its salt needs to feel fast, sharp, nimble, and entertaining – even in Rally Edition trim, the Veloster still feels like an also-ran in the segment. The Rally Edition's unchanged steering is too light and numb, especially relative to something playful and communicative like a Mini Cooper S. Its suspension remains too soft, even with the special-edition upgrades. Body motions feel unkempt, and hurt the car's overall sense of responsiveness relative to something sharp and precise like the GTI. We doubt most nonenthusiast consumers would find anything to complain about, but there are better hot hatches out there.
- While we can look at the performance and handling objectively, the Veloster Turbo Rally Edition's aesthetics are entirely subjective. The faux carbon fiber on the exterior actually looks pretty good – the casual observer certainly won't be able to tell the difference between this stuff and the real deal – and the black, multi-spoke Rays wheels look good and trim a total of 20 pounds of unsprung weight over the Turbo's standard 18s. We aren't sold on the pale blue matte paint, though – a darker shade of blue would look better.
The Rally Edition is still an affordable entry into the hot hatch ranks. Starting at $24,775, it's the most expensive Veloster model available, but it enjoys a $1,640 advantage over the Volkswagen GTI and is $1,175 less than an optionless, four-door Mini Cooper S. In fact, the only real performance options that can undercut the VT are significantly smaller – the $21,845 Ford Fiesta ST and the $23,475 500 Abarth. That said, each of those cars can be significantly outfitted with kit like heated seats, bi-xenon headlights, navigation systems, sunroofs. The Rally Edition is a mono-spec item, so what you see in these photos is what you get. That certainly hurts its value proposition, in our eyes.
None of this means the Veloster Turbo Rally Edition is necessarily a bad choice. This limited-edition model is a tremendous improvement over the Turbo it's based on, especially in terms of its retuned and reworked suspension. Still, there are far superior options regardless of what you value, whether it be straight-line performance (GTI), agility (Fiesta ST), overall driving dynamics (Cooper S), or optional extras (all of the above). With that in mind, we simply can't give Hyundai's latest Veloster effort a recommendation.
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