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2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: First Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Hyundai, Test Drives

The 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

When Hyundai rolled out its funky three-door-plus hatch Veloster, we were more than a little intrigued. The car featured clean-sheet styling, a somewhat bolder version of the “fluidic sculpture” language that Hyundai debuted on the more mainstream Sonata and Elantra. It boasted a surprisingly stiff chassis and suspension that was limited mostly by the automaker’s choice of all-season radial tires. While the Veloster was a good looking car that offered up surprisingly capable handling at an affordable price point, most of us wished the car made a bit more power from its 1.6-liter engine.

Enter the Veloster Turbo, Hyundai’s 201 horsepower punch to the face of the MINI Cooper S and the Volkswagen GTI. It’s got 195 pound-feet of torque, a unique aero kit, slightly stickier all-season radial tires mounted on unique 18-inch wheels, bigger brakes and a slightly different interior than the the standard Veloster. Oddly enough, it comes with the exact same suspension tuning as the base Veloster, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, The Turbo’s ride (and its chassis) is plenty stiff, so Hyundai doesn’t see a need to fix something that isn’t broken.

Speaking of suspension tuning, the Veloster’s rear suspension uses something that Hyundai calls a V-Beam axle, with an integrated 23-millimeter stabilizer bar. Purists will cry “foul,” since it’s not a fully independent setup, but it works well enough for any kind of velocity you’ll encounter on public roads. Would a fully-independent suspension offer better handling? Theoretically, yes, but at an added cost that would raise the sticker price of the Veloster Turbo beyond what Hyundai wants to charge. Besides, Hyundai views the Veloster Turbo as a “sporty” car, not as a sports car (like its Genesis Coupe).

Also new on the Veloster Turbo is Hyundai’s first foray into the world of matte paint. If you’re willing to cough up the additional $1,000, Hyundai will sell you a Veloster Turbo in the dark Matte Gray finish (seen here) that looks sensational on the car. Only a limited number will be produced, so the trick may be getting your hands on one before they’re sold out. As with BMW’s “frozen” paints, Hyundai’s gloss-less finish will require a bit more care and upkeep, and each car comes with a comprehensive kit for protecting the finish. Washing must be done by hand, and a special paint sealer is used instead of wax.

As good as the Veloster Turbo is to look at, it’s even better to drive. Blessed with a torque curve that’s flatter than the state of Nebraska, the Veloster Turbo pulls with reasonable authority from down low to near redline. With a 0-60 mph time in the 6.8 second range, it won’t out-accelerate a Mazdaspeed3, but we’d argue that the Veloster Turbo is an easier car to live with on a daily basis, and it certainly is better-equipped.

Image: Hyundai Motor America

We spent our time behind the wheel with the six-speed manual version, which we found to have a light clutch feel and smooth shift throws, making the car easy to drive even for those new to rowing their own gears. The dual-clutch automatic offered on the base Veloster isn’t available on the Turbo, since Hyundai felt the gearbox wasn’t up to the car’s added grunt. Instead, buyers wanting an automatic transmission Veloster Turbo get a more conventional six-speed automatic transmission, equipped with paddle shifters for added control.

Image: Hyundai Motor America

The Veloster Turbo gives drivers a quicker steering ratio than the base Veloster, which makes the car even more willing to change direction. Brakes grab with authority, and the difference between base and Turbo models is immediately noticeable when you jump on the binders. Like the base model, however, the Turbo is somewhat let down by its all-season radial tires; if you plan on tracking or autocrossing your Veloster Turbo, an upgrade to stickier summer-only rubber should be considered mandatory.

Image: Hyundai Motor America

While the Veloster Turbo accelerated with enthusiasm compared to a base Veloster, it didn’t feel as quick to us as a Volkswagen GTI, a MINI Cooper S or a Fiat 500 Abarth. That’s not criticism, because in many ways the Veloster Turbo is aimed at a slightly different audience than these cars, and is priced accordingly, beginning at just $21,950. That’s the domain of the Honda Civic Si, and we’d say that the Veloster Turbo trumps the new Civic Si in every measurable way. The Hyundai also offers up connectivity features (like Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system) that simply aren’t available from other manufacturers, and for some buyers that may be the deciding factor.

If we had to sum up the Veloster Turbo in a single sentence, it would be: This is the car that Hyundai should have built all along. It’s quick enough to be entertaining, yet priced for a general audience. It’s distinctive enough to stand out in a crowd, without being over the top. Finally, it’s handling is impressive, and strong aftermarket support will quickly address anything that Hyundai hasn’t. Just in case the Veloster Turbo isn’t hard-core enough to pique your interest, consider this: a well-placed source within Hyundai confirmed that the Veloster Turbo isn’t likely to sit atop the range for long. Does that mean an R-Spec is in the works, with even more power and even better handling? If we were the betting type, we’d say its likely.


  • Price: Base Veloster Turbo $21,950.00
  • Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve Turbocharged 4-cylinder 201 horsepower @ 6000 rpm / 195 ft-lbs. @ 1750-4500 rpm
  • Track: f/r-61.3/61.8in.
  • Headroom: f/r-37.2/35.3in. with sunroof
  • Legroom: f/r-43.9/31.7in.
  • Passenger volume: 80.8cu.ft.
  • Cargo volume: 15.5cu.ft. with seats up/34.7cu.ft. with seats down
  • Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
  • 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 26 mpg/city, 38 mpg/highway

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