2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

TORREY PINES, Calif. — The main complaint about the iconic three-door, four-passenger Hyundai Veloster hatchback after its introduction last year was its underwhelming performance.  That complaint has been very adequately addressed with the 2013 Veloster Turbo that infuses the little sporting car with 201 horsepower.

Recognizing it has a youth-oriented favorite on its hands that has kindled a fire among its competitors, Hyundai realized it had to do something besides design a quirky vehicle to stand out from the crowd. Among those competitors nipping at Veloster Turbo’s tires are powers in their own right; Honda’s Civic Coupe Si, VW’s GTI, the MINI Cooper S and the MINI Clubman S.

What it did was cram in a 1.6-liter twin scroll Turbocharged four-cylinder equipped with 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque into this go-kart of a youth machine and get out of its way; the driver does the rest. There’s a lot of technology and with it, technology descriptions — none of which I barely understand and you probably won’t, either.

You’ll FEEL it when you drive; you just probably won’t understand what’s happening when you do. Techno Types will have a field day with what constitutes the Twin-Scroll Turbocharger and GDI Technology, however. For them it will probably read like a Master’s thesis at MIT — sort of like an egghead’s Playboy. 

Zipping along Southern California’s twisty mountain roads is the life that Veloster Turbo was designed for with its sport-tuned electric power steering with quicker ratio steering that adjusts assistance instantly to changing driving conditions, finely tuned suspension McPherson strut front suspension and rear suspension that’s a lightweight V-torsion beam.

On many occasions the opportunities to pass up four-wheeled turtles on mountainous terrain are few and far between and unless you’re depending on the kindness of strangers who will occasionally pull over to allow quicker vehicle to pass, Veloster Turbo’s power gives one the confidence to take those opportunities as they come. The Veloster Turbo is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Fuel economy estimates are 27 mpg city and best-in-class 38 mpg highway (for manual transmission models).

One look at the front view of the 2013 Veloster Turbo would strike fear in the heart of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It has a big, bold hexagonal front grille and sculpted side skirts that give it the appearance of a monstrous vacuum cleaner that will suck up anything that gets in front of it. I don’t particularly view it as polarizing, either. It’s just plain brutish — and that’s a good thing. It sports a new rear bumper with prominent diffuser vents in the lower fascia.

As further testament to its macho image the 2013 Veloster Turbo is available in a Hyundai-first Matte Gray paint. Although it requires special care the hue itself alerts the world that IT is special. There are other exterior colors to suit everyone’s taste as well as two interior choices – Graphite Black with Blue accents and Graphite Black.

Veloster Turbo sits aggressively on unique 18-inch alloy wheels with chrome inserts and Kumho Solus (no, that’s not Korean for “Red Solo Cup”) KH25 215/40R 18 85V tires designed to give the best performance out of the car without compromising the ride.

The interior is incredibly comfortable and if one can describe it as plush…then it’s plush. Full-leather seats that provide awesome support and comfort have the word “Turbo” stitched into the seatbacks. Heated front seats are standard on the Turbo.

The center stack and controls resemble a sports bike fuel tank and incorporate a push-button starter and alloy pedals. An exclusive Supervision Cluster provides information in a large, clear and more interactive setting. Two TFT screens are located between the tachometer and speedometer. A 7-inch touchscreen as well as an LG 450-watt Dimension Premium Audio System w/eight speakers and a ton of content are standard.

There’s enough connectivity and available technology to jumpstart the heart of a dead audiophile. Maybe it was just my imagination but even though I primarily listen to talk radio it seemed to me that the news was better and the generally-spoken gibberish of the moderators and panels seemed clearer and even made sense.

Veloster Turbo encompasses the best in Hyundai’s legendary quality and safety. Lying in wait, hoping never to be used, however, is Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, 5-year/60,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty, 7-year/unlimited-mile Anti-Perforation Warranty and 5-year/Unlimited-mile Roadside Assistance. As comforting as this is it also speaks volumes of the company’s commitment to quality. NO company stays in business if their main after-sale function is performing warranty work.

In addition to the absolute thrills awarded by driving this vehicle, paying for it comes in a close second. A 2013 Veloster Turbo equipped with a manual transmission has an MSRP $21,950 and freight and handling of $775. Is there something about this vehicle I don’t like? Yes, as a matter-of-fact there is; my wife won’t let me buy one. I now blame Hyundai for any marital difficulties the Veloster Turbo has caused.

— Al Vinikour