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January 12, 2013

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

by Mark Savage

Veloster Turbo rocks the entry-level market

Hyundai wasn’t happy to leave well enough alone, so it went and added a turbo to its sporty coupe/hatch, the Veloster.

Hyundai Veloster TurboYes, you’ll still hear jokes about the name and its similarity to the famous dinos in “Jurassic Park,” but you won’t care. You’ll have a sporty car with reasonable oomph and a darned attractive entry price.

The Veloster Turbo starts at $21,950 and packs a twin-scroll turbo that takes the hatch up to 201 horses from the rather tame 138 hp the base model offers. It’s the same 1.6-liter direct-injected engine, but with the turbo it creates a lot more horses. Torque isn’t a neck strainer though.

The turbo spools up a little slower than some on pricier sports models, so there’s a bit of lag and it doesn’t punch you as you might expect. What you get is more gradual power, but power that nonetheless gives this Veloster better overall acceleration and top-end power than the base model.

Gas mileage is still good, considering this has a turbo. I got 25.2 mpg in mostly city driving. Last April I did way better at 32.4 mpg in the base model doing an even split of city and highway driving. That non-turbo is rated at 28 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, while this horsier version is rated 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Power always costs you gas mileage.

But like the base Veloster, this model is a fun drive and has all the features of the original, plus is loaded with the techy stuff most folks expect, or want on today’s cars.

The short list includes fog lights, projection beam headlights, a premium sound system with subwoofer and eight speakers. There’s satellite radio and hookups for iPods, MP3 and auxiliary jacks. Hyundai also includes its Blue Link Telematic system that works with a smart phone.

Veloster's interior looks great, with an efficient steering wheel hub full of buttons and a good video screan mid-dash.

Veloster’s interior looks great, with an efficient steering wheel hub full of buttons and a good video screan mid-dash.

Mid-dash is a large 7-inch touch screen for navigation and radio tuning, but the navigation system itself is part of a $2,500 Ultimate Package that includes a rearview camera, plus backup warning sensors, automatic headlights and a panoramic sunroof, all nice, if you can afford it.As with the base Veloster, handling is quick with good road feedback. There’s a light, but substantial feel to the car. With a thick leather-wrapped steering wheel it’s fun to run the Veloster through turns and tight corners. It holds the road well with little lean in the turns.

This one had summer low-profile performance tires that aided grip, but those would need to be replaced with winter appropriate tires. They also add to the rougher ride you’ll feel in the Turbo. The base model was chattery on cement streets, but this one felt pretty tightly sprung no matter the pavement.

The car’s 6-speed manual transmission with EcoShift is easy to shift, but has a notchy feel that belies its value pricing. The EcoShift system lights up a gauge to tell you to shift early to save gas, but isn’t really needed.

Braking is fine from four wheel discs and as with most cars, even value-oriented ones, both traction control and stability control are standard.

Veloster includes a third door on the passenger's side for easy access to the rear seat.

Veloster includes a third door on the passenger’s side for easy access to the rear seat.

As stated in my earlier review, I like the racy exterior, but Veloster’s interior is a styling and functional gem. The silver test car came with a black and gray interior, including a textured rubberized black dash top with matte silver door and dash trim accentuating the tall door pulls. These stick up from the door panels and make it easy to grab and pull the large coupe doors shut.Veloster’s dash is incredibly well laid out with all buttons easy to see and use and even with a navigation screen, all the buttons and knobs were large enough to use, even when wearing gloves. The layout is logical, simplifying its use, something few luxury makes have mastered.

There’s a tilt/telescope steering wheel with Bluetooth hands-free phone system and cruise, radio and phone controls on the hub. Overhead there are solid visors with pull-out extenders, along with Blue Link telematics.

The test car’s seats were black leather with gray trim and were well contoured and comfortable. These are manually adjusted, but with a power driver’s lumbar support. I found the seats easy to adjust and appreciate the lever that pumps up the seat height. This model also comes with two-levels of seat heat, a benefit in Wisconsin.

I like the alloy pedals, which aid the car’s sporty persona, and found the five-spoke alloy wheels here particularly cool. It may seem odd, but what I really appreciate are the blue trim rings on the gauges and dash buttons that glow blue, for easy viewing at night. Bravo!

Naturally you can flip the driver’s seat forward, or open the small rear-opening door on the passenger’s side to access the rear seat. The door blends well into the car’s lines so it’s not obvious. BUT, rear seat room is limited, although the car seat crowd won’t complain.

As in the base model the rear seats fold down, plus there’s a full 16 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row seats. So this will be a good hauler if you’re moving into the dorms, an apartment, or just out of mom and dad’s house!

Like the standard Veloster, the front three-quarter view and rear visibility are limited, the first due to big A pillars and large rearview mirrors just beyond them. The rear view is slightly obscured by the car’s sloping back window and hatch seem. Note there IS a wiper on that back hatch too.

Veloster looks good from the rear too. Love the twin pipes!

Veloster looks good from the rear too. Love the twin pipes!

If moving up to the turbo model is too much of a stretch for you, remember the base Veloster starts at about $17,450, with a manual 6-speed transmission. But if you can stretch the budget, this turbo is a bit more fun.FAST stats: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo M/T

Hits: Respectable power, quick handling, good looks with a stylish interior featuring great dash layout and controls. Seats are well contoured & heated, plus big door pulls, back door on passenger’s side and value pricing.

Misses: Side and rear visibility limited due to big A pillar/rearview mirrors and sloped back window. Rough ride and shifter is a tad notchy.

Made in: Ulsan, South Korea

Engine: 1.6-liter GDI 4-cyl. w/turbo, 201 hp

Transmission: 6-speed manual w/EcoShift

Weight: 2,800 lbs.

Wheelbase: 104.3 in.

Cargo: 16.0 cu.ft.

MPG: 24/35

Base Price: $21,950

Dealer’s Price: $20,898

Major Options:

Ultimate Package (panoramic sunroof, backup warning sensors, automatic headlights, navigation system w/rearview camera, 115V outlet), $2,500

Carpeted floor mats, $95

Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZR summer tires, $1,200

Delivery: $775

Test vehicle: $26,520

Sources: Hyundai, www.autos.yahoo.com

Photos: Courtesy of Hyundai

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