Jim Powell, Wed, 27 Sep 2017 12:54:41 PDT
Since the beginning of the "horseless carriage" era, the affordable sports cars have been the hot ticket item. Sportier cars were desired, right out of the gate, when men started racing cars alongside horses to see which one could outrun the other. Crafted by shade tree mechanics, faster cars were born, and the "sport" in automotive transportation continues today. The question is, can consumers still buy truly sporty cars for econobox prices- in this day of ecological and economic efficiency.
Korea's transportation giant, Hyundai, has built an affordable sporty car alongside their economy cars for the US market. The more expensive Genesis Coupe was created to compete with the likes of a Camaro or a Mustang. However, the frugal quirky 3-door coupe called Veloster competes with the Civic Coupe, Scion tC, Ford Fiesta, and maybe a Mazda 3. Veloster sounds like the name of a cousin of the Velociraptor dinosaur; this unique hatchback came with unique styling and some decent handling. What it was missing were power and some better rear visibility.
The 2017 Veloster Turbo has added a turbocharger to boost the horsepower up to 201 out of just 1.6 liters of displacement. I enjoyed the flattened torque of 195 ft-lb that arrived at 1750 RPM all the way up to 4500 RPM. The light-weight turbo spools up quickly, but there is still some lag in acceleration from a standstill. I did enjoy the exhaust growl from the twin exhaust pipes. The centerline exhaust tailpipes are one of the coolest features of this Veloster Turbo.
The semi-precise 6-speed manual transmission highlight the driving dynamics. Shifting movement is not too long for shorter arms and smooth enough to encourage first-time manual gearbox drivers. There is a 7-speed dual clutch automatic for the less-adventurous owner. I averaged right at 30 miles-per-gallon with a manual transmission- rated at 26/33 mpg city/highway. Most drivers will achieve better mileage if they can keep their foot gently on the accelerator.
Cornering and hard braking are very entertaining for the driving enthusiast, especially for a front-wheel-drive platform. Improved Torque-steering (pulling the steering wheel to the side under hard acceleration) through some clever engineering. They designed a brake-based torque vectoring to mitigate understeer and give the Veloster a quick steering turn-in. Conversely, I found this car stable enough for long freeway drives, so Hyundai struck an appropriate balance between precise steering and comfortable cruising.
The front tires stay planted on the pavement with MacPherson struts, coil springs, gas-filled twin-tube shock absorbers, and a stabilizer bar up front. The rear of the car tracks pretty well at speed using a torsion axle, coil springs, and gas-filled monotube shock absorbers. If a track rock solid ride is the goal, choose the R-Spec edition.
The low-profile 225/40 R18 tires mount on good-looking 18-inch alloy wheels. I would prefer 17-inch tires on this sports-tuned suspension due to the harsh ride over less-than-perfect roads. The 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Value Edition also came with a glass panoramic roof and sunroof which helps open up the claustrophobic backseats. Visibility out the back of the Veloster is not ideal, but the backup camera helps reduce the fear of hitting something or someone when reversing.
This Value Package also includes nice interior touches such as a center console push-button start and automatic climate control. The 7-inch audio/navigation system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, eight speakers, external amp, and subwoofer. Also included is Hyundai's Blue Link Connected Car System that uses the smartphone to monitor and start the car remotely.
"The Value Edition epitomizes our desire to provide consumers more for less," said Mike Evanoff, Product Planning Manager. "These are amongst the most sought after options in a car, in one convenient value savings package." Veloster models with this package start at $18,100.
Even though this 3-door hatchback has aggressive styling and a low beltline, it can still move four folks and some gear for such a small car. Climbing into the rear seat is easy for a guy like me. Another adult could have joined me if they were able to slide over behind the driver's seat. Most people will never have four adults in the Veloster, but it is nice to know there is space if the need arises. There is also 15.5 cubic-feet of cargo space under the hatch for a fair amount of luggage.
The bright orange paint scheme and orange seat trim might be a little too much "in your face" for some, but I found this Hyundai Veloster Turbo fun to drive. It comes with a host of safety features and airbags in case the driver runs of out skill, luck, or pavement. The Veloster Turbo also attracted some attention from 20-year-olds and older guys who still are intrigued by affordable sports cars. Best of all it is an affordable option for those who cannot spend $30k for a sportier coupe.
Hyundai just announced at the time of posting that there will not be a 2018 model year for the Veloster. Considering the Veloster's Hyundai 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, the car's value-to-sport ratio, the turbocharged engine, and the optional R-Spec suspension, the 2017 models should be on the affordable sports car list.