Hyundai's facelifted Veloster Series II has had some tweaks around the cheeks and gets a new matt-blue foundation, but there's also a bit of work been done under the skin, with some serious effort going into tuning the suspension for Australian conditions and improving the steering feel. There's also a new, entry-level price point for the SR Turbo version, which is the one you want.
WHAT IS IT?
First launched in 2012, Hyundai describes the Veloster as a halo model that gives it a youthful zestiness and a sporty coupe with the advantages of the hatch. We think they're referring to the fact that it has, uniquely, a third door, so rear passengers can climb out curbside. With a range starting at $24,990 for the non-turbo variant and rising to $33,990 for the SR Turbo+ it’s supposed to be all about accessible, affordable sports-car ownership.
WHY WE'RE TESTING IT
The Veloster has long been a bit of a mystery, because it's up against some seriously inspiring front-drivers – like the VW Polo GTI or Peugeot 208 GTI – and the wondrous, rear-drive Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins, and it's nowhere near as pretty, or as sporty, as any of them, including the near mechanically-identical Kia Proceed GT. Yet it’s still found a sizeable market, one that Hyundai is hoping to reinvigorate with its Series II update. We want to know who buys it, and why.
For any genuine enthusiast, a base model Toyota 86 would be a better, more involving and prettier buy, but once you get up to the range-topping Veloster’s price range you’re also going up against VW’s Polo GTI, which looks, feels and drives like it’s in a completely different league.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
THE Hyundai Veloster has always been a bit of an odd, three-eyed fish, but the Series II upgrade does provide better ride and handling that make it a more comfortable, usable car, and the dual-clutch gearbox, while not much chop at the pointy end, is smooth enough to attract some customers. It’s fair to say, because the sales figures reflect it, that this is a bit of a girl’s sports car, and thus its lack of real firepower might not be a problem for its intended buyers.
PLUS: Excellent ride and handling, new splashes of colour brighten up interior, beautiful new matt-blue paint option, unique styling.
MINUS: Unique styling is not for everyone, flat bottom end performance; dual-clutch transmission refuses to change down if you're going hard, old-school understeer, cheap-feeling plastics.
THE WHEELS REVIEW
TO MANY many of us, Hyundai's Veloster has long been a mystery wrapped in an enigma, designed by a teenager. Yes, a lot of people do buy this genuinely unique, allegedly sporty three door coupe-cum-hatch, with its strangely insect-like rear end and exhaust cluster, but who?
Having just launched the Series II version, which gets styling tweaks, a new double-clutch gearbox, locally tuned steering and suspension and a truly lovely new matt-blue paint job, Hyundai had done the research and could help with this one.
Apparently the Veloster makes a lot more sense if you’re a woman - as two thirds of buyers are – and aged 21 to 25, either physically, or 'attitudinally'. People in their 60s also buy it, but only because they want to look like teenagers again.
There's plenty of Gen Y showiness in the revised interior, with bolts of blue available for the centre console, seat bolsters, steering wheel stitching and seat belts. The colour brightens up what is an otherwise cheap interior, with the shift paddles in particular feeling thin and a bit nasty.
The changes using the new auto box are slick enough, but its desire to save you fuel means you're rarely in the SR Turbo's 1.6-litre, 150kW and 265Nm engine's sweet spot, which is above 3500rpm, so there's some hesitation, or what you might call old-school turbo lag.
The six-speed manual is the better option, particularly if you intend to drive hard, because the auto simply refuses to give you lower gears if you’re revving. Hyundai took the new Veloster to a track, which seems a little outside its intended function.
Having recently driven cars like the VW Polo GTI with its clever front diff, it was almost refreshing to rediscover the joys of proper understeer again. To the credit of Hyundai’s local suspension tuning team, the Veloster rides and absorbs bumps far better than some of its more fancied competitors, and its steering isn't too bad either, but overall the car just doesn't feel sporty.
There's not enough noise for a start, with no turbo whistle at all, and you have to be absolutely wringing its neck to feel any kind of involvement or excitement.
It seems plausible, though, that Veloster buyers are after something that looks and feels a bit sporty, but isn't intimidating, or too hard riding, and it performs those functions perfectly. Why it has three doors rather than four will have to remain a mystery, however.
Vitally, it's also a very cheap way to feel and look a bit different, with the entry-level non-turbo Veloster (103kW 166Nm) starting at $24,990, a new SR Turbo base offering at $29,990 and the full fruit SR Turbo+ at just $33,990, with heated seats, sat-nav and Flex Steer (don't bother, all three settings deliver the same kind of steer – the under variety).
Model: Hyundai Veloster Series II SR Turbo
Engine: 1591cc, in-line 4-cyl, turbocharged 16v
Max power: 150kW @ 6000rpm
Max torque: 265Nm @ 1750rpm-4500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual/7-speed DCT
0-100km/h: 7.2sec (est)
On sale: Now
Click here to read the range review of the Hyundai Veloster.