Words: Kevin C. Limjoco
Pictures: Isabel N. Delos Reyes
Do you remember the Tiburon? No, I don’t mean “shark” in Spanish or the lovely romantic town in Marin County north of San Francisco; I’m talking about Hyundai’s real first attempt of making a sporty compact that actually sported “gills” on its front flanks to reinforce the moniker on its final days. The Tiburon did look organic, even actually marine since the first generation model looked like a jellyfish or nudibranch. You still don’t remember? That’s alright! Very few were actually sold in the Philippines and almost all of them were grey market units. The car that replaced the 2-door coupé after only two relatively short generations gained a rear hatch and an extra odd third side-door. It is an important compact car for Hyundai and its customers who have been waiting for the Veloster domestically ever since it was sold worldwide back in 2011.
Those five long years of waiting were both a blessing and a poke in the eye. The Philippine market skipped the first models, which were not turbocharged, produced an anemic 138 bhp, had a 6-speed automatic at best, had smaller front brakes, and they did not have the more relevant equipment found in the current model. Eventually, a 6-speed EcoShift® dual-clutch was developed by Hyundai, which was offered as an alternative to the automatic but did not get the dynamic results that they had hoped. Our domestic Veloster Turbo has the new, sportier, and more robust 7-speed DCT version, which has a better balance of fuel economy and performance. And we finally get the Gasoline Direct Injection Turbo engine! The downside is that despite getting the current refreshed model with the facelift and upgraded equipment, we are also getting a model that is essentially just past its mid-life cycle too. I am still optimistic, though, about the 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo because it does provide a lot of entertainment and capability at a reasonable price.
Compared to the most powerful 2.7-liter V6 Tiburon that had 172 bhp and 181 lb-ft of torque, the new Veloster Turbo, which is also bigger and more spacious, packs significantly more power and efficiency at 201 bhp and 195 lb-ft of torque over a much wider powerband. And the instrumented performance results clearly tell the tale: its predecessor at its best accelerated from 0-100 km/h in 7.4 seconds and had a top speed of 222 km/h. Our Veloster Turbo test unit, in its signature Vitamin C Orange color, consistently achieved 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and almost touched 230 km/h on top of a 37% improvement in fuel economy!
The Veloster Turbo cannot be compared to its significantly more powerful and larger brother, the Genesis Coupé. It instead technically competes against standard compact cars like the Toyota Altis, Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra, and the Honda Civic in the sense of general size and capacity. It is larger than the Hyundai Accent too. But when it comes to dynamic comparisons, the overachieving Veloster actually picks a fight against other overachievers in other markets, which include the more premium sector that comprises the Nissan Juke NISMO, the outgoing Honda CRZ, Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 208, and the MINI Cooper.
The Veloster Turbo is another clever product from Hyundai that positions itself in between all the daunting competition and is able to earn sales from buyers who are looking for a maximum value product that takes some of the best feature sets from the entire gauntlet and makes it as attainable as possible. In that aspect alone Hyundai has already won for both themselves and the consumer. The Veloster chassis is based on the Kia Forte so it also uses a torsion-beam rear suspension like a Ford Fiesta ST and Peugeot 208 GTI. So handling is a mixed bag, but more on this later. And just like those manic little hatches, it uses a direct injection, turbocharged 1.6-liter transverse engine powering the front wheels. Its novel asymmetrical door configuration, which essentially uses two small doors (compared to the larger single piece driver’s door) on the passenger side is certainly uncommon and a nice conversation piece but it does have its own unique compromises that accompany it. Only the passenger that sits next to the rear-opening door has a usable window; the other side is fixed, so given that the Veloster is a 4-seater, that one passenger will always feel marginalized somewhat. Thankfully, the body is rigid enough to handle the configuration too, so you do not hear creaking and flexing like in the first generation MINI Clubman. However, you do hear a bit more road noise compounded by the panoramic moonroof, but don’t worry, it’s nowhere near as bad as being in a convertible.
The interior is appropriately sportier than any other Hyundai; it is even more aggressive than the Grand Touring Genesis Coupé. The perforated front leather sport bucket seats are generally well designed, comfortable, and supportive enough for the abilities of the Veloster Turbo. The rear seats can actually fit adults in reasonable comfort and offer more room and cup-holders than a Ford Mustang GT’s rear seats, which are best for up to 10-year-old children. I’m not too big a fan of the stitched “Turbo” monikers on the front seats though, which actually does the interior design a disservice. The stitched leather steering wheel is unique to the Veloster, feels good, and reacts appropriately to the Flex-steer adjustable electric system. The steering does not have the weighted feedback of a performance car even in Sport mode, but it is forgivable. The steering wheel does have the paddleshifts to manually override the DCT, which reacts best when pushed hard. When driven aggressively, the shifting is certainly better than a conventional 6-speed manumatic and CVT, but there are still more shift delays compared to the Europeans. The real issue is when you are driving in town or slowly on country roads, two things happen: the brakes get too grabby (the front brakes are up from 11” to 11.8”), and the DCT shifts inconsistently to the point that modulating the car’s pace at less than 60 km/h got annoying. In fairness, our test unit was the very first unit on road with less than 100 kilometers on the odometer, so I am confident that after a proper run-in, both the brakes and transmission would settle down appropriately.
With 10mm more rubber than in other markets, the 225/40R18 Hankook Ventus Prime2 tires helped both the ride and grip of the Veloster. The Veloster actually rides with more compliance than our C! Fastfleet Volkswagen Golf GTi, but it obviously cannot come close in outright performance driving. The larger Veloster Turbo does eat the Peugeot RCZ for breakfast though! In fact, the Peugeot would need the 270 bhp R version of the RCZ to take its honor back. You know a few cars faster than the Veloster Turbo in its genre? The abridged answer may surprise you, and the cars are current: The Fiat 500 Abarth, Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ, MINI Cooper, Mercedes-Benz A200 and BMW 118i. The all-new Honda Civic RS matches the Veloster Turbo from naught to 100 km/h, but past that, the Hyundai will distance itself. Keep in mind, though, that the Veloster was never supposed to be a pocket rocket like Ford Fiesta ST, but more of a unique melding of real-world versatility, standout design, and a high-level of vital standard equipment for consumer needs, with a sprinkle of explorable driver fun.
So you see, with the new Hyundai Veloster Turbo, you are getting a compact car with quite a broad-reaching spectrum of abilities. The rear hatch is very commodious and you can fold the whole rear seat too, to increase the load capacity. You get the front and rear LED light treatment combined with HID headlights, a panoramic glass roof, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a solid sounding 7-speaker audio system that includes a sub-woofer, rear camera, cool central dual-exhaust system, multiple SRS bags, keyless ignition, 18-inch alloys, a host of safety electronics and more backed up by a 5-year unlimited mileage factory warranty! The Hyundai Veloster Turbo is certainly not the fastest hot hatch, but it is the most affordable full-featured high performance car in the domestic market!
Specification – 2016 Hyundai Veloster
Location: Front, Transverse
Displacement: 1591 cc
Cylinder block: Aluminum
Cylinder head: Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT)
Fuel Injection: Direct Fuel Injection, Intercooled Twin-scroll Turbo
Max power: 201 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max torque: 195 lb ft @ 1750-4500 rpm
Transmission: 7-Speed Dual-Clutch Shiftronic® EcoShift®, Front Wheel Drive
Drag Coefficient: .32 cd
Front suspension: Independent MacPherson strut, coil springs, twin-tube shocks, 23mm stabilizer bar
Rear suspension: Coupled Torsion-beam, coil springs, mono-tube shocks, 24mm stabilizer bar
Fuel Capacity: 50 liters (13.2 gallons)
L x W x H: 4250 mm x 1805 mm x 1405 mm
Wheelbase: 2650 mm
Brakes: Front 11.8” (300 mm) ventilated discs, 1-piston calipers / Rear 10.3” (262 mm) solid discs with 1-piston calipers, ABS, EBD, BAS, Traction & Stability Controls.
Wheels: 7.5J x 18” Aluminum Alloy
Tires: P225/40R-18 88V Hankook Ventus Prime2
Weight: (kerb) 1360 kg. (2992 lbs.)
Quarter Mile: 15.3 seconds @ 150.4 km/h (94 mph)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 6.8 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 227 km/h (142 mph)
112 km/h-0: 158 feet
Lateral Acceleration: .91g
Fuel Mileage: 9.4 L/100 kms. (25 mpg) City / 5.8 L/100 kms. (33 mpg) Highway
Price as tested: PhP 1,548,000.00
C! RATING 9.5/10
+Worth the wait, full-featured, energetic, entertaining, fuel efficient
-Calibrated more for general sportiness rather than determined dynamism