An increasing number of New Zealand motorists are becoming aware that the defining feature of the Hyundai Veloster is that it has two doors on one side and one on the other.
|HYUNDAI VELOSTER TURBO|
POWER PLANT: 1.6-litre 16-valve DOHC twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, 150 kW at 6000 rpm, 265 Nm at 1750-4500 rpm.
RUNNING GEAR: Front-wheel drive. Six-speed manual (as tested) twin-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. MacPherson strut front suspension, coupled torsion beam setup at the rear.
HOW BIG: Length 4220mm, width 1805mm, height 1409mm, wheelbase 2650mm.
|HOW MUCH: $49,990.|
|WHAT'S GOOD: Distinctive looks, powerful and flexible turbocharged performance.|
WHAT'S NOT: Rear view marred by the rear spoiler.
|OUR VERDICT: This is an impressive performance coupe. It's easy to drive normally, and can open up when required.|
It all works very well, too. The Hyundai designers have done a great job of retaining the Veloster's two-door coupe styling by hiding that rear door's handle up in the C-pillar, and the end result is a vehicle that is one of the real lookers in the sporty coupe segment of our new vehicle market.
Trouble is, in standard form the Veloster doesn't offer the performance to match those sparkling looks. Not really. Its 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine develops 103 kilowatts of power and 167 Newton metres of torque, which not only is bettered by the likes of the Elantra sedan and the i30 hatch, but - perhaps even more importantly - is eaten by the 147kW/205Nm on offer aboard that other distinctively-designed coupe, the Toyota 86.
All this means that, although the Veloster looks sporty, in standard form it is more a family hatch rather than something with real performance credentials.
But there is another version of the Veloster now on the New Zealand market that is capable of satisfying the needs of those who desire performance.
This one has a new 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine under its bonnet, which increases power by almost 50 per cent and torque by 60 per cent.
The maximum power is 150 kW at 6000 rpm, and the torque is 265 Nm from 1750 through to 4500 rpm, which is sufficient to make this Hyundai an impressively sporty drive.
Not tyre-shredding, sporty off the mark, mind you. But what is impressive is its ability to perform at pace. When engine revolutions are kept mid-band to take advantage of that wider torque curve, this Veloster is a pacey drive.
I quickly learned all about that during a journey through some of those lovely country roads in King Country and southern Waikato. There, it was an enjoyable experience to make use of the car's short-throw six-speed manual to keep the revs right where they needed to be to maintain a combination of performance and economy.
Ride and handling are a lot sportier than the standard Veloster, too. The car's motor-driven power steering is quicker thanks to a rack that takes just 2.78 turns to get from lock to lock, the suspension has been recalibrated with performance in mind, and its 300mm disc brakes are 20mm larger than those aboard the normally aspirated Veloster.
I like the Veloster anyway. Even in standard non-turbocharged form, it is an appealing vehicle that is conventional but different, with lots of design elements that make it interesting.
Hyundai's so-called fluidic sculpture design language is there via muscular wheel arches and strong character lines down the vehicle's flanks, and other memorable design cues include an aggressive-looking bonnet with shallow cut-outs, and a rear with those centred chrome-finished dual exhaust outlets.
But this turbo model is even more attractive.
It features a more aggressive grille than the standard model, round front fog lights, its 18-inch alloy wheels have chrome inserts, and aerodynamic add-ons include side skirts, rear diffuser, and a rear spoiler.
Standard equipment includes a panoramic glass sunroof, and form-fitting sports seats that are upholstered in a mix of leather and leatherette.
This Veloster turbo hasn't required much to be done to the interior, which is sufficiently interesting anyway. The centre fascia is said to be shaped like a motorcycle fuel tank, and the air vents are supposed to look like exhaust pipes. Door grab handles are unusually designed to the extent they look like big silver plates, and the gearshift handle is of an appealing ergonomic design.
My only hassle with that interior was the location of the rear spoiler, which cut right across my rear view when I had the driver's seat height adjusted to my liking. It made me forever feel like I was being followed by something.
But overall the interior is comfortable, and there is a good level of standard specification including full connectivity via a large multimedia touch- screen, and audio and phone controls on the steering wheel.
Load space of 320 litres is fairly cramped with all seats in use, which means you must fold down one or both sides of the 60:40 split rear seats to take larger items. But it must always be remembered that this vehicle is a split between the coupe and a hatch, so rear load space will always be secondary in the considerations regarding what is most important with this model.
The car also has a five-star Ancap safety rating, thanks in no small measure to its monocoque chassis structure with a dual centre roof rail, and it has a comprehensive suite of aids including stability control, traction control, ABS brakes with brake force distribution, brake assist, and even hill-start assist.
Overall, I like the way Hyundai describes this Veloster turbo - that it brings brawn to beauty.
In fact, it's not that brawny, but then again many will say it's not that beautiful either. But the Veloster sure is memorable.
- © Fairfax NZ News