When the original Hyundai Veloster hit the scene many praised the bravery of its bonkers asymmetric door design and coupe-like styling, but were less impressed by its relative lack of performance. Hyundai has promised to put this right with the heated up Veloster Turbo SE – an enhanced, driver-focused version that purports to challenge such rivals as the VW Scirocco and Vauxhall Astra GTC.
It brings with it increased power from its 1.6-litre T-GDI turbocharged engine, more torque, uprated suspension and brakes and a more aggressive body kit -- all while retaining the oddball one door on one side, two doors on the other layout.
Visually, the Veloster Turbo SE looks more aggressive than the standard Veloster. The front has a new bumper, radiator grille and fog lights, while the rear now looks like something out of a sci-fi movie thanks to its bonkers rear light and diffuser design. Overall, the Veloster Turbo SE is a far more muscular, chiselled affair that commands a lot of, mostly positive, attention on the road.
Like the standard Veloster, the Veloster Turbo's main party trick is its gimmicky asymmetric door design, which places a single, elongated door on the driver's side and two smaller doors on the passenger side. The idea is that the car looks sleek and coupe-like when viewed from the starboard position, yet retains a modicum of practicality on the port side.
The 1+2 setup works well for the most part. Kids will find it easy to get in and out of the car, and mounting a child seat should prove less of a hassle than it is with a two-door car. However the rear door is a tiny, oddly-shaped thing so larger passengers may find getting in and out is a bit of a faff. This is especially true when carrying four passengers, as one rear passenger will always have to slide, or hurl, themselves across the rear bench to sit behind the driver. Once everybody's in, there's a decent amount of room – provided you're not very tall or don't have a beehive or large afro.
Up front, the Veloster SE's dashboard and door trims are coated in hard plastics that look nice enough but feel cheap to the touch. There're plenty of cubbies to stash your flotsam. The centre console is home to twin cup holders, one of which houses a removable ash tray, and a space to keep your mobile phone. There's plenty of room in the centre storage binnacle for loose change and sweeties and the glove box is a good size. Although the door bins are small, they are contoured to accommodate drinks bottles and cups. The boot is a generous 320 litres, which is similar to what you'd get in a Ford Focus. Rear seats fold down, increasing load space to 984 litres.
Performance & Handling
Hyundai has beefed up the Veloster's 1.6-litre engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger. It now delivers 184bhp and a hefty 265Nm of torque, providing a 0-60mph time of 8.4 seconds and a 133mph top speed. Most of this grunt is available low in the rev range -- between 1,500- and 4,500rpm -- so the car pulls willingly without you having to wring its neck. There's almost no point revving the knackers off it -- best results are achieved when shifting up relatively early as you would in a diesel. Not that you'd want to rev it any higher – it may breathe through twin exhaust pipes but the Veloster Turbo really doesn't sound like a performance car. Where's the exhaust burble, the engine roar, the turbo whistle?
More importantly, where's the cat-like agility? The Veloster Turbo SE isn't a particularly rewarding drive for those who like to pilot their hot hatches on the absolute limit. The car uses McPherson strut front suspension with firmer dampers than the standard car but the rear suspension is a coupled torsion beam affair, rather than an independent or multi-link setup. This relatively unsophisticated design is exposed when the car is driven enthusiastically, the car feeling slightly unweildy when pushed hard through corners.
Hyundai has made attempts to improve the steering feel -- a noticeable problem in the previous model -- by increasing the resistance in the steering wheel but there's little feedback during cornering. The throttle response is lethargic, too. Plant your foot and it takes a split second for the engine to respond, which isn't ideal in a car that purports to be sporty.
Equipment & value
The Veloster Turbo SE is blessed with a good number of extra features. That list includes leather-trimmed seats, 18-inch alloys, an 8-speaker stereo with amp and subwoofer, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a multifunction 7-inch touchscreen display with sat-nav, parking sensors, rear parking camera and USB connectivity. The only options you'll need to consider are the £950 panoramic sunroof ('panoramic' is a bit of a stretch as it's only slightly larger than a normal sunroof) and your paint colour. Hyundai offers white crystal, phantom black with a pearl finish (£445) or matt grey (£525).
Like all Hyundais, the Veloster Turbo SE is backed by the manufacturer's excellent 5-year triple care assurance package, which includes a five-year unlimited mileage warranty, five years free roadside assistance and five years vehicle health checks.
Economy & Environment
The Veloster Turbo SE spews CO2 at a rate of 157g/km and returns 40.9mpg on the combined cycle – commendable numbers for a petrol-powered car offering this level of power. The 1.4-litre turbocharged engine in the equivalent Vauxhall Astra GTC 1.6-litre turbo spits 168g/km for its 39.2mpg while producing 180PS. The equivalent VW Scirocco 1.4TSI emits 154g/km, returns 52.8mpg and produces a mere 160PS. It's worth noting that both the Astra and the Scirocco are available with a greater range of engines, but at this level the Hyundai has them both licked.
The standard Veloster earned a five-star Euro NCAP rating, so we can expect similar safety performance from the Veloster Turbo SE. Its ABS brakes feature brake assist, which applies more braking force when it thinks you aren't braking hard enough to avert an accident, hill assist control to prevent the car rolling backwards on hills when shifting your foot from the brake to the clutch, and vehicle stability management comes as standard. Six airbags should cushion the blow should the worst happen.
The Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE is an improvement on the standard Veloster in many ways. It's more attractive, comes with more equipment and is better to drive. Keen wheelmen (and wheelwomen) may be disappointed with the relatively unsophisticated handling characteristics as even the standard Hyundai i30 shows more potential in this regard. However for those who want to stand out from the Astra GTC and VW Scirocco-owning crowd, the Veloster Turbo SE is worthy of consideration.
Model tested: Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol
Acceleration: 0-62 in 8.4 seconds
Top speed: 133mph
Emissions: 157g/km CO2