Are you a glass half full kind of person? Or is your glass always half empty? Your answer is going to play a large part in deciding whether or not you get on with the Hyundai Veloster Turbo.
To many the Hyundai Veloster is best known as ‘that car with the funny doors’. On the driver’s side is a single, large door, just like you’d find on a coupé. On the passenger side are two doors, just like you’d find on a practical family car. It’s a split personality that seems to split opinion too.
Glass Half Full?
So if your glass is half full you’ll look at the Veloster’s low roofline and think you’ve got a sleek coupé with a splash of extra practicality. Passengers get easy access to the rear via a door with handles built into the window frame, helping to reduce the impact on the Veloster’s profile.
Half-empty types will look at the odd door layout and decide they’ve got a sleek five-door hatchback that’s not as practical as it should have been. That may be true but really they should be thanking Hyundai for trying something a bit different. In a world of traditional hatchbacks trying to pass themselves off as sporty coupés it’s refreshing to see someone having a go at something new.
The Veloster’s looks seem to split opinion too but I like the complicated arrangement of creases, curves and scoops. The roof gently slopes to the rear, making it look compact, squat and purposeful. It sits low and rides on 18-inch wheels with chrome inserts and at the back you’ll find a pair of large, chrome-tipped exhausts.
While you’re at the back you can’t help but notice the bright red letters that spell ‘Turbo’. It’s a reminder of the 80s, when big, laggy turbos were all about making things faster. Nowadays downsizing, economy figures and emissions regulations mean that most new cars have a turbo, so shouting it about it in big red letters seems wonderfully retro. I’m surprised it’s not got fluorescent highlights, they’d really take it back to the 80s.
The turbo pushes the 1.6-litre engine up to 184bhp at 5500rpm, 195lb ft between 1500-4500rpm while returning 40.9mpg and 157g/km. Not exceptional but the Veloster’s GDI engine is a big step forward from those 80s turbo models. Smooth, quiet and with barely a hint of lag.
What it isn’t is exciting. The Veloster Turbo delivers what it’s got with an anonymous hum. It’s not unpleasant but it doesn’t stir any particular emotions either. Glass-half-emptiers will wish that the engine note lived up to the promise of those large exhaust pipes.
It’s the same story with the handling. The Turbo uses MacPherson struts at the front and torsion beam at the rear, just like the lesser SE, but the damping rates have been increased. That simple rear suspension says a lot about how serious the Veloster’s sporty ambitions are. The result is handling that is competent but not rewarding.
Increase the pace and sadly the Veloster doesn’t live up to the mental images conjured up by the Turbo badge. Compare it to a well-sorted hot hatch and neither the chassis nor the steering are as sharp as you’d want. The steering is a little vague and a touch too light for my liking, and if you’re craving clear signals from the front wheels you’ll need to look elsewhere. Grip levels are average and when the Veloster lets go it’s the front wheels that gently drift wide.
The suspension can get a little flustered on rough roads and there’s a hard edge to the ride, not helped by those low profile tyres. It’s at its best on the motorway, cruising at a relaxed pace with the reserves of torque making quick overtakes a breeze.
Everything But The Kitchen Sink
The interior is a Veloster strong point and the smart design makes it feel refreshingly modern. There’s a blue theme to the interior lighting and 7-inch touch-screen, and in the Turbo there’s bags of standard kit. Bluetooth, climate control, parking sensors and rear-view camera, auto lights and wipers, sat nav, keyless entry with stop/start button and cruise control are all standard. The upholstery is also upgraded to black and grey leather with heating in the front.
As a result the options list is very short. All you need to do is decide if you’d like to pay extra for either pearl or matt paint. Cars don’t come much easier to order than this.
That generous specification doesn’t push the price up too far either. The Turbo costs £22,000, adding £5,000 to the price of the non-Turbo, and making it look very competitive alongside rivals such as the Volkswagen Scirocco and Peugeot RCZ.
Back Seat Fun
That extra door actually works quite well for the rear passengers. For a start Hyundai made sure the door is on the correct side for the UK market so that rear passengers don’t have to play Russian roulette with the passing traffic when they climb in and out.
It’s also easy to slide across the rear bench thanks to an almost flat floor. It’s ideal for kids who are usually more than happy to clamber around a car and wouldn’t think twice about sliding from one seat to the other. That rear bench can only seat two, thanks to a plastic storage section in the middle and no third seat-belt.
The split rear window makes the back seats a bright place to sit. The top half of the window stretches quite a way forward so occupants just need to tip their heads back to gaze out through the roof. Another plus point for young passengers but that low roof-line is going to leave 6-footers wishing they’d sat in the front as their head bounces painfully off the roof.
We’re back to that half empty/half full glass again. If you think you’re missing half of your chosen tipple and judge the Veloster on the Turbo badge you quickly realise it’s writing cheques that the engine and chassis cannot cash. It’s not that it’s slow or a bad car to drive, it just simply doesn’t deliver in a market where rivals can offer a lot more excitement.
If you look at your glass and think that it’s actually half full then you’ll realise that those rivals will struggle to match the Veloster’s amazing value and 5-year warranty. You get a lot for your money, from those stylish looks to the generous level of equipment, and if you’re not looking for hot hatch thrills the driving experience should be more than enough to satisfy.
The door layout may split opinion but it certainly raises a talking point, and it’s a trick that no-one else has the courage to try. Sometimes being different is all it takes to win new fans.
|Distinctive styling, extra door really does work, great value and warranty||Turbo badge is writing cheques the engine and chassis can't cash||6/10|
|Performance & Economy|
|Engine||1,591cc 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Transmission||6-speed manual, front-wheel drive|
|Power (PS / bhp)||186 / 184|
|Torque (Nm / lb.ft)||265 / 195|
|0 - 62 mph (seconds)||8.4|
|Top Speed (mph)||133|
|CO2 Emissions (g/km)||149|
|Combined Economy (mpg)||40.9|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1,313|