2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Review

The 2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Offers 201-hp in a sporty package at a decent price-point. Add, a polarizing design and some stiff competition, can the Veloster hold it’s own? Chris Chase reviews Hyundai’s intrepid hatchback to find out.

Finding standout looks in an affordable car is tough to do, and it’s even more difficult if you also want that car to be entertaining to drive. Enter the Hyundai Veloster: based on the Accent, and as you can see, it’s a lot more distinctive, even when not painted a colour its maker calls ‘Vitamin C.’

It’s a controversial design, but we love it. What we love even more is that it retains the Accent hatchback’s cargo space, a useful rear seat, and in our tester’s turbocharged form, comes in one very well-equipped trim for C$27,000.

Whether or not you like the styling, it’s hard to argue with an entertaining small car for that kind of money.

Competitive Values

You’re barking up a big tree when you sell a car that aims to compete with the Mini Cooper S, a seriously fun machine that boasts great dynamics for a front-drive sports car. The 2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo’s mission became even more challenging last year, when Ford added a high-performance ST model to its subcompact Fiesta line.

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From a driver’s point of view, the Cooper S and Fiesta ST are fantastic little cars, with super-sharp responses and great overall performance. On paper, the Veloster Turbo looks like a picture-perfect match for those two cars, but in practice, the picture gets a bit fuzzy.

The Veloster handles well, but steering feel isn’t up to the standard set by Mini and Ford, and the chassis defaults to understeer when pushed hard through corners and never feels as balanced as the other two. Our biggest complaint has to do with the rear suspension, which hops and skips over rough pavement and feels unsettled when the road is anything but perfect.

There are positives, though, including the manual shifter and clutch, which are both easy to use smoothly and quickly, something that can’t be said for more expensive manual-transmission cars we’ve driven in recent years. The engine is a good one, too: it pulls hard and rewards quick acceleration with a nice exhaust note that’s never intrusive.

Ride comfort is surprisingly good for a sporty car and, if anything, a bit too soft to fit the expectations created by the car’s looks. It makes for a comfortable daily driver, but many in the market for a car in this class will wish for a firmer feel over the road, which they’ll get in a Cooper S or Fiesta ST.

Fuel consumption estimates are 9.7/7.0 L/100 km (city/highway); our test car averaged 9.5 in cool November city driving.

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Packing in Practicality

What really surprises about the Veloster is how useful the interior remains under its racy exterior. There’s 440 litres of cargo volume under the hatch (about double that of the Mini) behind a rear seat that, aside from so-so headroom, is every bit as useful as that in the Accent. The back seats fold (though not flat) to enhance carrying capacity. Headroom is much better in the comfortable, supportive front seats, even underneath the standard panoramic sunroof, a feature that usually steals an unfortunate amount of interior space.

The real victim of the Veloster’s styling is rearward visibility, which is almost laughable. A backup camera and rear park assist are standard kit, which is a good thing: the larger of the two windows in the hatch would be great for stargazing or plane-spotting, but the smaller, vertical pane is the one that provides your view of what’s behind, and that view isn’t generous. This car would also benefit from a lane change warning system to mitigate the massive blind spots between the rear side glass and back window.

2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Review front seats

Ride comfort is surprisingly good for a sporty car and, if anything, a bit too soft to fit the expectations created by the car’s looks.

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Another annoyance is that the main dash display doesn’t dim adequately for night driving, and turning it off is a four-button process, which is three too many.

Priced to Move

At $26,750, the Veloster Turbo costs more than either the Mini Cooper S or Fiesta ST, but if the Hyundai’s performance doesn’t blow those two out of the water, its list of standard equipment does. That kit includes navigation, intelligent keyless entry, automatic climate control, eight-speaker stereo with subwoofer, and a heated steering wheel.

Fitting a Mini Cooper S with the same stuff will cost you nearly $31,000. Ford comes to close to matching Hyundai’s value, at about $25,500 with the addition of heated seats and navigation, but you’ll trade a couple of other convenience features for the ST’s huggy Recaro seats and sharper performance.

The Takeaway

Hyundai has suggested that it might not carry the Veloster into a second generation, which seems a shame given that it’s such a unique and compelling little car.

It’s not a perfect car, though. As usual, Hyundai has put most of its eggs in the value-for-money basket, and as a hot-hatch contender, the Veloster suffers for that. A little bit more chassis tuning would go a long way to helping this Hyundai keep up with its classmates in gym class.

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2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Photos:

Specs:

Veloster Turbo 6-spd Manual Performance Features

City (MT) 9.7L/100 km, Hwy (MT) 7.0L/100 km, Combined (MT) 8.5L/100km
1.6L GDI 16-valve DOHC 201 hp, 4-cylinder Engine with Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (Dual-CVVT)
6-speed Manual Transmission
18” Alloy Wheels with Chrome Accents
2-step Variable Induction System

Safety Features

Airbags(6): Dual Front, Front Seat-mounted Side-impact and Roof-mounted Side-curtain
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA)
Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)2, Electronic Stability Control System (ESC) with Traction Control System (TCS)2

Interior Features

AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 Audio/Multimedia System with 6 Speakers and Rearview Camera
iPod/USB and MP3/RCA Auxiliary Input Jacks
Bluetooth® Handsfree Phone System
7” Touch-screen
Navigation System
Power Driver Lumbar Support
Alloy Pedals
Cloth Seats with Leatherette Bolsters and Door Armrest
High Gloss Black Interior Accents
Leather-wrapped Steering Wheel and Gear Shift Knob
Heated Steering Wheel
Steering Wheel-mounted Audio and Cruise Controls
Heated Front Seats
6-way Adjustable Driver’s Seat with Height Adjuster
Rear Cupholders
Chrome Inside Door Handles
Proximity Key with Push Button Start
Panoramic Sunroof
115V Power Outlet
Dimension Audio System with 8 Speakers, including External Amp and Subwoofer

Exterior Features

Front Fog Lights
Centre Chrome-tipped Dual Exhaust
Tinted Glass with Windshield Shade Band
Rear Parking Assist System
Heated and Power Adjustable Outside Mirrors
Automatic Headlights
Projector Headlights with LED Accents
LED Rear Taillights
Mirror-mounted Turn Signal Indicators
e-Limited Slip Differential
Turbo-unique Black Grille
Body-colour Rear Spoiler
Turbo Unique Body-kit

Chris has been writing professionally about cars since 2004, in print and online. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two feline tyrants. In rare quiet moments, he can be found travelling or playing one of his way-too-many guitars. Chris is also a journalist member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).