Al Kuwaitiah  

Saturday, June 25, 2022

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Hyundai’s radical Veloster Turbo: A rebel with a cause
I never thought I’d say this but test-driving new cars is becoming increasingly frustrating. The problem is all the praise I keep getting about whatever car I happen to be reviewing.
You probably think I’m out of my mind for saying that but look at it this way: When it’s your car and someone pays you a nice compliment about it, you tend to feel smug and appreciative. But when you get the thumbs up while driving a car for a review, it’s like receiving admiring looks because you’re in the company of a beautiful woman – who happens to be someone else’s wife.
Last weekend was no different. I pulled into a gas station in Hyundai’s Veloster Turbo, and a chap filling up his Audi SUV walked over, gave the Veloster the once over, and said, “You have a nice car there.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” I replied, and added, barely audibly, “but it’s not mine.” Seriously, I hate that. It’s like having an extramarital affair.
But the guy kept examining the Veloster, and finally declared, “It might as well be German.”
In my world, that’s the best compliment you could pay a car, and in the case of the Veloster Turbo, it’s well-deserved.
Obviously the most noticeable thing about this sports car is the radical design, which is different from pretty much anything else on the road. The Veloster stands out for its singular door layout – a long door on the driver’s side like on a coupe, and two smaller doors on the passenger side. What’s astounding is that while for me asymmetry in car design is akin to sacrilege, in the case of the Veloster it totally works.
Not only does that third door allow easy access for rear passengers, but also allows you to quickly deposit or retrieve your stuff from the back. And in the case of a young couple with an infant, it’s much easier access to a child seat than in a conventional coupe. And it looks seamless.
But that’s just the beginning, because there’s so much more to like about the distinctive design of this car, which is essentially a very futuristic-looking three-door shooting brake.
At the front, the Veloster Turbo features a massive black hexagonal grille, now Hyundai’s signature look, framed by a pair of angry-looking compound headlights with LED accents and, lower down, a pair of round fog lights situated above a very aggressive lip, a design element that’s unique to the Turbo.
As you move back, the flared wheel arches emphasize the car’s sporty demeanor and a wicked skirt that matches the front lip runs along the lower edge of the sill. Meanwhile, the panoramic roof, which is only interrupted by a rad body-color spoiler, cants down toward the back to culminate in a hatch that is really useful for loading large items in the rear. On either side of that hatch reside a pair of attractive LED accented taillights, while beneath it sits a wide rear bumper with diffuser vents and a pair of round wide-diameter exhaust outlets positioned in the center.
Now add the fact that the car rolls on a set of unique five-spoke 18-inch alloys with chrome inserts that only make the Veloster Turbo look more menacing, especially as the wheels are situated practically at the car’s extreme edges, and you have all the makings of a true stunner.
But the Veloster Turbo’s knack for bucking convention doesn’t stop on the outside. The car’s interior is just as mesmerizing, especially once you take in those leather seats. The version I drove, a sweet GLS Luxury garbed in pearlescent Pacific Blue, came with black leather seats with matching blue trim and Turbo stitching on the headrest. In combination with the blue grips on the doors and center console, they lent the interior an extremely sporty yet trendy aura. And that’s only the beginning.
Those power-adjusted seats, by the way, are not only heated but also ventilated, a feature usually found in more expensive cars. Most importantly, they are amazingly comfortable and supportive, and the amount of space in the front is impressive considering the car’s stubby stature. The multilayered dash, covered in nice soft-touch materials, is truly epic with contours that all flow down toward the center at an angle.
The center stack that resides in that dash features everything from a 7-inch touchscreen display for your infotainment system and navigation to Bluetooth connectivity, USB and auxiliary ports as well as an extremely effective full automatic air-conditioning. Right beneath that you have a large push start button for keyless convenience. And of course you have your black and brushed aluminum gearshift for the six-speed Tiptronic transmission which emphasizes the car’s decidedly high-tech appeal.
Immediately in front of the driver, the leather-wrapped and adjustable multifunction steering wheel is actually heated, and besides the typical controls for audio, phone and driver information also features cruise control, something that’s becoming increasingly necessary with the strict new traffic laws. You also get an electric curtain for that panoramic power sunroof as well as power folding exterior mirrors.
Now the original Veloster already drew acclaim at its launch for its trendsetting design, but Hyundai decided to push things up a notch by introducing a more powerful version. The Turbo boasts a twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-liter mill that produces 204 horsepower and 195 lb/ft of torque – that’s nearly a 50-percent boost in power from the regular 138hp Veloster. And with the retuned suspension and razor-sharp steering, they produced a potent machine that’s as exciting to drive as it is astounding to look at.
I thoroughly enjoyed driving the Veloster Turbo, and kept finding excuses to take it out just one more time. With a zero to 100 time of around seven seconds, it’s clearly no slouch. It also handles extremely well, with practically no roll on corners, and thanks to its front-wheel-drive setup it inspires much confidence. The ride, while firm, isn’t at all uncomfortable while wind noise is well within acceptable levels. Of course like all front-wheel-drive cars expect some understeer during rapid cornering, especially when accelerating uphill or while driving in inclement weather. Otherwise there’s almost nothing about this car that could warrant any gripes, except possibly the lack of an auto up/down feature for the passenger side power window and slightly less than robust interior door grips.
The part that totally stunned me about the Veloster Turbo was the price. For $34,000, including registration, you get the top-of-the-line version with everything on the options list, along with a five-year or 100,000 km warranty. I checked the cost in the U.S., and for a car with the same options, it came to nearly the same minus registration. It’s as if no customs duties were added. If that’s still too much for you, you can get the Turbo for $31,500 without the navigation, the ventilated and heated seats, the heated steering wheel, the sound system upgrade or the full automatic A/C.
Still too much? There’s the deluxe non-Turbo Veloster for $28,500 – all the sexiness but with a more city-friendly mill. And for $25,500 on the road, you can get the entry-level Veloster, which in fact still comes standard with a ton of features considered options in many other cars. And if you still want something this sexy but less expensive, well you’re just being unreasonable.
To be honest, the only disappointing thing for me about the Veloster Turbo was that Hyundai insisted that I return it once I was done with the test drive. But I can find some solace in the fact that they’ll eventually introduce a better version, and provide me with an opportunity to go knocking on their door again.
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