Performance – These days a 1.6L engine sounds more like an attempt to please die hard environmentalists rather than providing neck bending performance. But the 1.6L engine in this Veloster is turbocharged and infused with up to date technologies that not only provide good fuel economy but also enough power to please the inner child within you. Starting with the fuel economy, it is rated at 8.5L/100 km city and 5.8L/100km highway, pretty good for a turbocharged hot hatch. The power is rated at 201 hp and 195 lb-ft on regular fuel, which is impressive for a turbocharged engine because most require premium fuel that costs up to $0.15 more per Litre and that can add up quickly.
On the performance side thanks to a twin scroll turbocharger, the power comes in at around 2000 rpms. Once that turbo does kick in, you get accelerated to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 220km/h. Unfortunately that is not very quick by hot hatch standards when you compare the Veloster to its closest competition from Honda and Volkswagen. The Civic Si can reach 100km/h in 6.6 seconds while the Golf GTi can do that in 6.7 seconds. A Veloster equipped with the manual transmission is a little bit faster however the 6-speed automatic in this test car can still offer some enjoyment due to its quick and smooth gear changes. The speed of the Veloster on paper may seem slow but when you’re in the driver seat it feels a heck of a lot faster and there is enough power to get you into trouble if you’re not careful.
Going around corners in this hatch is fun and engaging. The steering feel is not quite as accurate and precise as a car with hydraulic power assist and there is a little bit of tugging when the turbo spools up but the steering wheel still provides enough feedback to your fingers for you to know what the front wheels were doing. The chassis on the other hand is like one that I have not come across before because on smooth pavement it is confidence inspiring but as soon as any wheel hits a pot hole, the entire car shakes and feels unsettled for a couple seconds. I found myself having to drive like a drunk trying to avoid all of the pot holes on the road during my test drive.
Comfort – The interior of the Veloster has to be one of the best designed interiors for a mainstream car that I’ve seen in a long time. The esthetic design looks futuristic but at the same time all of the controls are where you’d expect them to be. I also like some of the details such as the door handles and the buttons on the steering wheel that are made to look like as though they aren’t really there.
The front seats are comfortable and offer decent support when cornering. However the same can’t be said about the back seats. The rear seats are too hard, they don’t offer any support for lateral G’s, and there is no head room what so ever if you have a head. The only people that would be comfortable in the back are children under the age of 10 or the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow.
Odds and Ends – The funky styling continues on the outside with a large gaping grille that you’d normally see on big tractor trailers rather than a hot hatch. The sloping roof line is reminiscent of other sports cars but it does hinder rear visibility due to the small rear window. A central dual exhaust tip finishes the styling in the rear but don’t expect this car to be loud because it isn’t. The noises that you do hear inside the cabin are that of the wind and the turbo spooling up but no exhaust note.
One thing I don’t understand about this car, is why it has a 2+1 door design? Yes it does make it easier to get in and out of the car on the passenger side but if 2 people want to get in the back, it makes it an awkward task due to the fact that the center of the rear seats are actually cup holders. I don’t understand why Hyundai didn’t just add another door on the driver’s side or remove the rear door all together and improve the body’s rigidity.
Despite its somewhat lackluster performance and the “love it or hate it” styling, the Veloster is a funky and different car that stands out from all of the other hot hatches. Also this top of the line Turbo model starts at approximately $26,000 CAD with a best in class 5 year/100,000km warranty which is something that none of its competitors can match.
Thank you to Open Road Mazda for providing this vehicle and go to their website to view more great used and new vehicles. www.OpenRoadMazda.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.