Hyundai has taken one giant step for the brand in South Africa with the introduction of a turbo-boosted version of its Veloster three-door coupe – a hotter model first mooted back in August 2012.
It’s been a while getting here, however… the 150kW/265Nm car was first shown in SA at the October 2013 Johannesburg auto show with the hope of launching it here in 2014.
It was announced back then as being the first to have Hyundai’s 1.6 T-GDI engine with its high-compression twin-scroll turbo.
Today (June 2015) a 200kW version of the engine is used in Hyundai’s World Rally cars.
Hyundai SA’s then marketing director Stanley Anderson said: “The Turbo model further broadens the Veloster’s ‘hero role’ in the Hyundai line-up and provides a very attractive option to our next-generation of buyers.
“With its powerful, high-tech and fuel-efficient features, the Veloster Turbo is the latest innovation in the sport coupe segment.”
IMAGE GALLERY: 2015 Hyundai Veloster Coupe TurboToday, 19 months after the promise of arrival and after driving both versions of the Hyundai Veloster 1.6 T-GDI Elite (to give the car its full name) I can say it was worth the wait… two models with the only factory option a set of floor mats, the model choice merely whether you want to pay R379 900 for the six-speed manual or R397 000 for the seven-speed direct-shift manual/auto.
The non-turbo version of the car – same engine, just not turbo’d – is priced at R297 900 for the manual version and R317 900 for the seven-speed dual-clutch auto/manual. Your call on whether the extra R80 00 or so is worth it a sunroof, some extra features, and the extra 47kW and 98Nm.
Certainly if you’re looking in the model/style/price range, then the Veloster Turbo is a worthy competitor for Audi’s A3 Sportback, VW’s Scirocco (which it sort of resembles), Toyota’s 86, the Mini Cooper S and Kia’s Cerato Coupe.
Anderson, still marketing director, said: "The Veloster Turbo is a pointer to where the Hyundai brand is heading: vehicles with advanced engine/transmission technology that will appeal to car buyers looking for an exciting, yet reliable and well-designed, automobile.”
The Veloster Turbo, to meet the demands of its way higher performance, has quicker-ratio steering rack and revised steering calibration; three settings are electronically available.
The front and rear suspension set-ups have been tuned “to match the expectations of drivers who appreciate firm and sure-footed road manners”.
CHOOSE YOUR GEARBOX
The driving experience, Hyundai adds “is further enhanced by the sport-tuned engine intake and exhaust notes: the trapezoidal centre tail pipes of the non-turbo Veloster have been replaced with two larger, free-flow, circular pipes for a more robust sound”.
The extra power is fed through either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission which changes gears automatically or through driver input with steering-column paddles or the gear shifter.
I drove the seven-speed first: technically advanced gearbox and sort-of fun over the Franschhoek Pass in the beautiful Western Cape. I’m biased: not keen on paddle-shifts – especially when automakers blend the gear position in with the general instrumentation: please guys, if paddles are in use then make the number 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 BIG for instant easy-reading.
Save the bucks and buy the manual: it’s a great gearbox, impossible to wrong-slot, and the big ball on the shifter is so comfortable you don’t want to let go between changes.
Basically, less cash outlay and a whole different car if you enjoy your driving and don’t spend your life in traffic (or live in the Western Cape, where you can do five mountain passes before lunch – no potholes, guaranteed!).
STAR IN CRASH TESTS
Anderson added: "The Veloster Turbo is not only about power and performance – it’s a well-equipped hatchback with a long list of luxury features, from the sound system with its Gracenote music management feature to leather seats, Bluetooth sound system and cell phone integration.
“It scored exceptionally well in the safety ratings of the Euro NCAP crash tests.” (Better than its competitors, in fact.)
The Turbo, Hyundai says, also has unique front and rear bumpers and fog lights, a new rear spoiler and grille, new 18” alloy rims, projector headlights with unique LED accents, and unique LED tail lights.
Oh yeah, and a sunroof, power adjustment for the driver’s seat, a really clear reversing camera/screen, split rear seats and hatch rear access, auto a/c, power external mirrors, keyless entry, six air bags, IsoFix child-seat anchors and a sporty push-button start.
CLEVER BELTS, TOO
The front seat-belts are presented on extensions – no more scrabbling around between seat and door pillar in the dark looking for the buckle – and (as with all Velosters) there’s a single rear door on the left side, a selling point for young mums carrying junior in a car seat (it’s an access thing, see, and will prevent much argument such as “why did you buy this darn two-door XR3i, Les?” back in 1992).
Clever idea, three doors…
“These elements,” Anderson says, “further accentuate the car's eye-catching styling and add a greater emphasis to its performance.”
Read more about the Hyundai Veloster range and check your colour choice.
Both Veloster Turbo models are sold with a five-year or 150 000km Hyundai warranty, five-year or 90 000km service plan and five years or 150 000km of roadside assistance.
Service intervals 15 000km.