2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: Driven Page 2

March 12, 2013
The Veloster rides and handles mostly like the standard version. We say mostly, because Hyundai quickened the steering ratio, and it's a bit firmer (with less boost), but there's still not much feel of the road and it could use more of a sense of center when you're pulling out of a tight curve. Brakes felt good—both more secure in feel and less grabby in relaxed stops than our long-termer.

The Veloster Turbo doesn’t get the adjustable steering boost that’s now offered in some other models like the Elantra GT or the Santa Fe, but it does have a feel that we think fits the car pretty well—it’s a little heftier than that of the standard Veloster

Hyundai hasn't much changed the suspension firmness of the Turbo versus the other versions. In theory there's more grip from the Michelin Pilot Super Sport Z-rated summer tires (a $1,200 option) in our test car, although 40-degree temps meant that ride quality probably wasn't what it should be. And for all the firmness provided by the buff tire sidewalls, there was an unsatisfying secondary 'wallow' on choppy back roads.

Heated seats, less headroom

Turbo models get heated leather seats. However compared to the base cloth seats we noticed that you lose about a half-inch of headroom—which happens to push me from comfortably clearing the moonroof surround to constantly brushing against it. In addition to that, there are the few longstanding gripes we have of the Veloster in general—like awkward rearward visibility and too much road noise.

As for mileage, based on what we saw with the Veloster Turbo, don't have high expectations around town; but on the highway this is a model that's fully up to its EPA ratings. Earlier in the week we did about 25 miles of around-town errands and only averaged about 23 mpg. That's about on par with the 24 mpg city rating, but soundly lower than what we saw with our normally aspirated Veloster in the same situations (in the range of 26-28 mpg).

But it seems that in real-life highway driving the Turbo model does just as well—if not better—than the base car. In a weekend trip out from Portland to the coast, mostly on winding two-lane mountain roads, with some moderate-speed freeway cruising, our running average then rose to 33 mpg after about 190 miles, then sank to a still-commendable 31 mpg after a final 15 miles before turning the car back in. At least according to the trip computer, we were beating the highway rating by ten percent or more.

After time with the Turbo, we understand how it broadens the Veloster's appeal—and that it carries this model into consideration for those who would have seen the base car's 138-hp figure and simply crossed it off their lists.

That said, if we were getting a Veloster, we'd probably stick with the regular version, thank you.

More satisfying performance, but shakier ground

The base 2013 Hyundai Veloster can be had for as little as $18,395, and we think that even after you add the Tech Package (navigation, rearview camera, backup sensors, proximity entry, push-button start, and a 115-volt outlet), the standard Veloster is a steal at $22,395.

As for the Turbo; well, it's a different value story, and one that's not quite the no-brainer. At the base level it's $22,895, but get the automatic model, adding the Ultimate Package (panoramic sunroof, backup sensors, navigation, rearview camera, and 115V outlet), which our test car had, and your bottom-line price is $26,395.

That's still a relative bargain, and while the base car stands as quite the charismatic alternative to the Scion tC, Honda CR-Z, or Kia Forte Koup, the Veloster Turbo is in the territory of several other models that we might rather have—like the Ford Focus ST (and perhaps the upcoming Fiesta ST), the MINI Cooper S, or the Volkswagen GTI. It's also the same territory as the completely different but more seductive Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ.

The Veloster Turbo does have one significant trump card in all this—and that's its unique three-door layout, and a design unlike any other vehicle we're comparing it to. Especially if what you want is a model that moves quickly and stands out, on a tight budget, the Veloster Turbo is it.

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