Better late than never is an adage perfectly suited to the Hyundai Veloster. While the rest of the world enjoyed its unique and quirky style since 2011, the Philippines had to wait a full five years before this compact hatchback officially made its way to Hyundai showrooms. Those five years was excruciatingly long, filled in-between with “will they” or “won’t they” statements. But now that the Veloster is finally in Manila, in the performance-oriented Turbo guise no less, is it worth the wait?
The answer to that question largely depends on what you’re expecting the Veloster to be. On one hand, if you’re envisioning it as a rival to the Toyota 86 or Mazda MX-5, you’ll be largely disappointed; after all, it still sits on a platform shared with the un-sports car-like Hyundai Accent. On the other hand, if you’re looking at it as a unique hatchback with commendable performance to back up those striking looks, then it hits the mark.
Undoubtedly, the Veloster’s biggest draw is its styling. The kammback-style coupe with the asymmetrical door configuration (one large door on the driver’s side and two smaller doors on the passenger side) continues to be a head-turner five years since its market introduction. From tip to stern, there’s nothing to criticize since the mix of flowing curves and strong edges all play well, creating an athletic and youthful stance. And while the front-end, with its complexly shaped projector headlights and large gaping grille, look great; it’s from the back where it stands out. The small greenhouse, pushed out fenders, and large dual center exhaust all visually lower the car. Yes, the design is over the top and bordering on the comical, but then again, you won’t opt for a Veloster if you didn’t want to stand out.
Inside though, things get much more sensible. With the exception of the oddly placed engine start/stop button (it’s on the center panel, just below the climate control), everything makes sense in the Veloster. The V-shaped dashboard should make any Hyundai owner feel right at home, while still fitting in with the car’s sporty character. The seating position is low but natural with the three-spoke steering wheel offering a good amount of adjustment. The front sport seats are excellent as well; comfortable but supportive even for extended periods of driving.
The Veloster Turbo also arrives reasonably loaded with features such as perforated leather seats with “Turbo” stitched on the bolster and power adjustment for the driver, alloy pedals, panoramic sunroof, and a 7-inch Autonet touchscreen infotainment system with 8 speakers. Despite these luxury trimmings though, the interior is still penalized by the plasticky finish which feels more at home in an econo car than a premium-priced coupe.
Despite the interior materials being a bit off putting, the Veloster does have an unmistakable advantage over the competition: the extra door on the passenger side. The opening may be a bit small, but it allows the third or even fourth passenger to squeeze in without bothering the people seated in front. Aside from being able to fit in four adults with little problem, there’s also plenty of cargo space too. The deep cargo box already accommodates 439 liters but when some expansion is needed, the rear seats go down in a 60/40 split.
Another thing going for the Veloster is its engine: a 1.6-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder with a turbocharger that adds 18 PSI of boost. Producing 204 horsepower and 265 Nm of torque, it’s got figures putting it in the same league as the Toyota 86 and even the European hot hatches—in theory, at least. In reality, don’t let the slew of red Turbo badges fool you: this one here is no hot hatch; rather, it’s a sporty compact.
Treated as such, it’s fun and easy to drive at any speed. It can playfully scoot around town while also making high speed merging and passing easy. Despite a hint of rumble from the exhaust, it’s quiet—perhaps too quiet—even when the engine’s singing at full throttle. Fuel economy remains reasonable given the performance: 7.93 km/L in heavy traffic and 10.20 km/L in light traffic.
Interestingly, it’s the 7-speed dual clutch that’s the Veloster’s weakest link. Though responsive (and reasonably smooth) most of the time, it doesn’t particularly like quick jabs of the accelerator. Command an overtaking maneuver and it takes a full second or two for the gearbox to figure out what’s going on and decide what to do. This phenomenon of second guessing the gearbox reduces the engine’s sense of urgency. What’s more, the transmission almost overheated once after an hour in EDSA stop-and-go traffic. Using the paddle shifters or turning off the Active Eco does help things a bit.
Normally, carmakers also stiffen up the ride whenever a Turbo badge finds its way onto the rear, but thankfully, the Veloster remains plaint in spite of how low it sits. Suspension travel is decisively limited compared to a typical compact sedan, but it can soak up most of the rough stuff before jiggling the passengers. This makes it a great daily driver. During more spirited drives, throwing it into a corner results in surprisingly minimal body roll; though like any typical front-driver, it’s prone to understeer at the limit. The obedient suspension is limited only by the tire’s somewhat low mechanical grip as well as the non-independent rear suspension which tends to shimmy mid-corner whenever going through a road imperfection. The Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS), with its changeable steering effort, is precise and nicely weighted, but also artificial in feel.
It’s safe to say that the Veloster Turbo is worth the wait, but only if you don’t expect a genuine pocket rocket. While it’s still unquestionably fun to drive, it never lets you forget that it’s equal parts practical as well. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Enthusiasts expecting a Korean hot hatch will have to keep on waiting for now. But for the consumer looking for nicely balanced sporty hatchback with a unique sense of style, this Hyundai may just be the slickest ride in town.
2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
|Ownership||2017 Hyundai Veloster 1.6 Turbo GDi|
|Body Type||1+2-door hatchback|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Fuel Delivery||Direct Injection|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||204 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||265 @ 1,750-4,500|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / ~91|
|Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed||7.93 km/L @ 13 km/h,
10.20 km/L @ 17 km/h
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,360|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Hankook Ventus Prime 2 225/40 R 18 V (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Rear with Camera|
|Other Safety Features||Hill-start Assist Control|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjust||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Adjustment||Electric (driver)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40 split-fold|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|# of Speakers||8|