Tuner-car looks for Hyundai’s funky hatchback

There’s a secret recipe to creating a successful sporty compact coupe. It’s all about striking just the right balance, between attitude, style, practicality, performance and economy. The Hyundai Veloster Turbo aims to hit that perfect balance, while still remaining affordable enough for the average entry-level buyer.

Of course, the bar for "entry-level" has been moved up in recent years, thanks to dramatic improvements in quality and materials for price-leading cars. The Veloster has risen with the tide as well; it’s rolling with a high-efficiency, high-output engine, excellent interior materials and even high-fashion matte paint jobs, in certain models. The Veloster Turbo Rally Edition adds a level of exclusivity to the scheme, with a production run of 1200, improved handling and high-visibility styling. That’s not a bad deal for just over $20,000.

Affordable, sporty compacts that aren’t just hot-hatched versions of existing economy cars are surprisingly thin on the ground; the Veloster and Scion tC are just about the only ones in this price bracket. With so little competition, does the Veloster Turbo have to work that hard?

Continue reading for the full story.

Exterior

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition Review Exterior
- image 617295

Easily the most dynamic-looking car in Hyundai’s family, the Veloster is a low-slung, hunchbacked hatchback. Projector headlamps with LED accent lighting flank a cavernous trapezoidal family grille. The Veloster’s profile emphasizes its large wheels and dramatically sloped roof with big flared fenders and a wide, flat upper section. The car is asymmetrical, with a reverse-opening rear door on the passenger side to aid ingress into the back seat. At the rear, the large glass hatch and center-exiting exhaust provide further distinction.

The Rally Edition gives the Veloster Turbo a sport-tuned look. Visually, Hyundai adds unique 18-inch Rays wheels, badging and carbon-fiber aerodynamic add-ons. Most striking is the Matte Blue paint job, which is also a part of the Rally Edition package.

Interior

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition Review Interior
- image 665855

Here’s where the Veloster’s got to balance practicality with sport. The interior is surprisingly spacious, with room for almost-full-sized adults in the back seats and up to 34.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded down. It doesn’t look it at a glance, but the Veloster will swallow furniture, an excellent ace to have in the hole for a young buyer who’s got to rely on it as an only vehicle.

In the Rally Edition, the distinctive bottom-mounted grab handles on the doors are set apart with body-color paint.

The instrument panel will be familiar to Hyundai drivers, with dual round gauges, a small info screen for vehicle functions and an insectile center stack with a seven-inch touch screen handling radio, HVAC and infotainment functions. Siri EyesFree and Pandora are integrated into the Veloster’s infotainment system. The advanced Sirius/XM satellite radio includes map, weather and sports/news feeds, and there’s an onboard 10GB hard drive for storing music and apps as well. A household 115v outlet is available, should you want to plug in a gaming console or other small electronic device. A 450-watt sound system is standard in the Veloster Turbo.

In the Rally Edition, the distinctive bottom-mounted grab handles on the doors are set apart with body-color paint. Optional equipment includes a navigation system, automatic climate control and a panoramic sunroof. Special floor mats and a clever system that enhances intake and exhaust noise for a more dramatic performance inside are also a part of the Rally Edition.

Drivetrain

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition Review Drivetrain
- image 617326

The performance model of the lineup, the Veloster Turbo, cranks out 201 horsepower from its turbocharged 1.6 liter four-cylinder. Direct injection and variable valve timing boost efficiency. That’s a decent amount of grunt for a 2,800-pound car, and the Veloster responds with respectable urge. The small-displacement engine does demand a lot of revs before delivering that power however. Veloster drivers will be keenly aware of the difference between a sporty car and a sports car. That doesn’t make the Veloster less fun to drive, of course. The standard six-speed manual transmission delivers confident shifts, and is standard on the Rally Edition. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is offered on the Veloster Turbo. Fuel economy for the Veloster Turbo is rated at 25/31.

The Veloster features a MacPherson strut front suspension and a lightweight torsion-beam rear.

The Veloster features a MacPherson strut front suspension and a lightweight torsion-beam rear. On curvy roads, the Veloster’s responsive and reasonably tenacious. Reflexes are improved by the Rally Edition-only tweaks, which include reduced unsprung weight thanks to lightweight wheels as well as stiffer springs and shocks. Stabilizer bars measure 23mm in the front and 24mm in the rear. Pushed hard, it will understeer predictably, but the limits are just a touch higher than those of the average econobox and that gives the Veloster enough edge to be generally entertaining. The steering is also quickened for use in the Rally Edition.

The ride is stiff-ish, but comfortable enough for a long freeway jaunt if necessary. At speed, understeer is limited by Torque Vectoring Control, which uses information from the stability control to brake the inside wheel to tighten turns. This helps the Veloster to feel poised and confident when the road gets twisty.

Safety

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition Review Exterior
- image 665856

The Veloster may be small, but it gets a five-star overall crash test rating from NHTSA, indicating excellent occupant protection in front, side and rollover collisions. The IIHS is a bit more critical, rating the Veloster “Marginal” in front overlap but good in all other areas. The Veloster has a rollover sensor that will deploy its side airbags in the event of a rollover crash, and standard equipment includes six airbags, a backup camera and electronic brakeforce distribution. Stability control is also standard.

Pricing

The naturally-aspirated Veloster is priced like the average subcompact, with MSRP starting at a very reasonable $18,000. The Veloster Turbo starts at $22,000. For the limited-edition Rally Edition, add another $1,950. To keep things simple, Hyundai batches options into the Tech Package and Style Package, run $2,100 and $2,700 respectively.

Competition

Scion tC

2016 Scion tC High Resolution Exterior
- image 637229

On the cusp of being rebadged a Toyota, the Scion tC has been a stalwart of the compact-coupe market for many years. Offering a surprisingly spacious rear seat and cargo area, Scion’s tech-savvy amenities and a torque four-cylinder engine, this sporty coupe is a personal compact that just begs to be personalized.

Read our full review on the Scion tC here.

Honda CR-Z

2014 - 2015 Honda CR-Z High Resolution Exterior
- image 527523

It’s not the successor to the CRX that Honda fans hoped it would be, but the CR-Z combines a sporty two-seat body with a hybrid powertrain. The aggressive looks are more show than go, but as a unique commuter the CR-Z succeeds.

Read our full review on the Honda CR-Z here.

Conclusion

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition Review Exterior
- image 665854

The Veloster’s a happy little car, which makes sense considering its light-hearted mission in life. Offering just enough sport to be entertaining and just enough utility to be a daily driver, it’s a great all-around vehicle for enthusiasts who don’t want to spring for a separate weekend play car and a commuter.

  • Leave it
    • Not as fun to drive as it could be
    • Style isn’t for everyone
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: