Hyundai Veloster Turbo: Big Fun In a Small Package

A Girls Guide To Cars | Hyundai Veloster Turbo: Big Fun In A Small Package - Veloster Aero View

Veloster Aero ViewWhen Hyundai introduced the Veloster in 2012, the compact hatchback’s dramatic styling turned heads with its moderately priced promise of driving excitement. Younger drivers looking for a modern, inexpensive car? Drivers in need of a fun second car? Moms tired of the minivan? Hyundai had you in mind, even if the name sounds like a Jurassic Park dinosaur. But there was one thing the Veloster was lacking: velocity. When I first drove the Veloster, it was engaging but underpowered. Now, for 2013, Hyundai has rolled out a turbo model. It’s the perfect remedy for those who want a car that doesn’t just look sporty, but has some power, too. Turbos give Veloster’s smallish 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine a boost, generating 201 horsepower–powerful for the car’s small size (it weighs less than 3,000 pounds). 

The Veloster takes the driving experience seriously, for both performance and economy: the car comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, though you can get it with an automatic transmission and paddle shifters; shifting gears is easy and smooth. There’s an ECO indicator on the dash’s driver information screen that tells you when to shift for optimum efficiency. I found it annoying and distracting; I’ll shift when I feel like it, thank you. The Veloster’s sport-tuned suspension and low center of gravity give it a nimble ride, although it can be harsh on uneven roads.

Quirky Name, Unique Design
Hyundai Veloster 1The Hyundai Veloster we test drove came in a color that by itself was enough to get you going; it’s called “Vitamin C”The name is far from its only quirky feature. For example, although Veloster seats four, it has only has three passenger doors: A drivers door and two doors on the passenger side (there is a rear hatchback door, too). Think of it as a coupe with a bonus door that makes it easier to get into the backseat if you’re a kid or if you’re installing a car seat; adults, though will have to duck their heads when getting in the back. And while the rear-seat headroom may be lacking for adults, the legroom is adequate. My teenage daughter was able to sit in the back and not feel confined. Up front, the headroom can be slightly compromised if you go for the optional sunroof, but otherwise the space is ample for a small car. (Note: The 2012 Velosters were recalled after reports of the sunroof glass shattering.)

Veloster InteriorThe Veloster’s interior is a sporty two tone black and grey and features a smart media console in the center dashThe two-tone interior is attractive and sporty, with the word “Turbo” stitched into the leather seats. The model I tested had the optional rear-view camera and rear sensors as part of the Ultimate Package ($2,500). It’s an expensive option, but one that’s worth it especially if you have kids — because visibility is hampered by the car’s design. If you’re a techie, you’ll be pleased: Hyundai’s Blue Link media console (subscription required) offers features that range from restaurant locations/ratings to voice-to-text messaging. The 7-inch touchscreen display and Bluetooth connection are easy to use.

Veloster’s Macho Color Palate
Hyundai’s paint-color names would make Crayola proud. My tester’s hue was called “Vitamin C,” sort of a bronze shade, but the car also comes in Iron Man Silver, Marathon Blue, Boston Red, Elite White, Matte Gray and Ultra Black.  Besides its engine, the Turbo model stands out from the base Veloster in styling, too. The car uses Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” philosophy, which adds aggressive body details: pronounced fenders, beveled hood with scoops, larger headlights with LED accents and a wide-mouth grille. The look is set off by chrome-tipped dual exhausts and 18-inch alloy wheels. 

Fun-Packed Hatchback
Hyundai Veloster9The Veloster combines a sporty hatchback design with passenger convenience: it has two passenger-side doors but only one door on the driver’s sideThe Veloster may not be what car guys call a high-performance “hot hatch,” but the Veloster Turbo packs a lot of fun into a small package. The starting price ($21,950) is outstanding, but it can quickly creep up with options. Just want the style and lower price tag? Look into the base-model Veloster (base price just over $17,000).

What We Loved
Low entry price for a sporty car: $21,950 (turbo base price)
Loaded with extras and luxuries for the price
Panoramic sun roof
Blue Link is standard equipment 
450 watt audio system featuring Sirius XM, iPod and AUX jacks
7-inch LCD screen
Leather seats are standard
5 year unlimited miles roadside assistance package is standard
Keyless entry and push button start– again, standard equipment!
No shortage of safety features, includingelectronic stability control, traction control, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, airbags and curtains, backup warning sensors and a rearview camera

What You Need To Know

Price of model tested $26,520 
24 miles per gallon city, 35 mpg highway
15.5 cubic feet of cargo space
Rear seats are stationery–they do not fold down
5-year/50,000 mile warranty
10 year/100,00 mile power train warranty

Disclosure: Hyundai provided the Veloster for this review; opinions expressed are all my own.

Peter Couture co-writes The Daily Drivers auto-review column for the Tampa Bay Times.