The Hyundai Veloster is a sporty, three-door compact car with unique looks, fun driving dynamics and good fuel economy. It launched as a 2012 model with a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter engine that makes 138 horsepower and an admirable EPA rating of 40 mpg Highway with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. The engine uses all the right high-tech stuff to get these numbers, such as Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT).
For 2013, the Veloster Turbo joins the lineup. The new 2013 Veloster Turbo uses a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine for a peppy 201 hp and 196 pound-feet of torque, along with bigger brakes and tires.
Like the base Veloster, the Turbo gets a standard 6-speed manual gearbox. A traditional 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic is optional. The naturally aspirated Veloster, meanwhile, uses a dual-clutch automatic.
The Turbo's increased performance predictably takes a toll on gas mileage, but still achieves a respectable 26 mpg City and 38 mpg Highway EPA rating with the manual and 25/34 mpg with the automatic.
The Veloster Turbo distinguishes itself from the naturally aspirated model with a huge front grille, a body kit, different front and rear bumpers, a rear spoiler and upgraded standard features such as leather upholstery, heated front seats and pushbutton start. All turbos ride on larger, 18-inch wheels.
Perhaps most interestingly, the Veloster Turbo is available in a matte gray paint color, which costs an extra $1,000 and, like other cars with flat paint colors, must be taken care of meticulously by hand. The paint is so fussy that customers must sign a release form that states they won't take it through an automated carwash. Those who pop for the high-maintenance paint will receive a car-care kit with cleaning products they can use at home.
The Veloster's styling gets a lot of looks on the highway, although we think it looks a tad overdone. As a three-door coupe, it totally pulls off the two-door roofline. The third door is on the passenger side, hinged at the front like a real door. With other three-door compacts, the third door can be awkwardly hinged; not so with the Veloster. It's easy to climb in and out of the back seat, and total interior volume is best in the sporty compact class, blowing the Mini Cooper Clubman out of the water.
Much of the Hyundai Veloster was designed and developed in the U.S., most notably the rear suspension that gives Veloster an excellent all-around ride that's dialed-in but still comfortable. Steering is solid, secure, and gives great feedback; cornering is stable.
Interior details include nice console support at the right thigh, good feel with the three-spoke leather steering wheel, pleasing uncluttered gauges, and digital information that's easily accessed. There's a blind spot at the C-pillar over the driver's shoulder, and the horizontal structural support in the fastback glass liftgate restricts visibility, but it still offers better visibility than most other coupes.
The Hyundai Veloster's competitors include the Fiat 500, Honda Civic hatchback, Mini Cooper Clubman, Volkswagen Beetle and Volkswagen Golf, while the Veloster Turbo goes up against sportier, more powerful versions of these compacts like the Fiat 500 Abarth, Honda Civic Si, Mini Cooper Clubman S, Volkswagen Beetle Turbo and Volkswagen GTI. The Veloster might not have the cachet enjoyed by some of the competition, but it offers excellent value for the money and superior fuel economy.