First drive review: Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE

With more power and jazzed-up looks, does Hyundai's most powerful Veloster manage to excite?
What is it?

Hyundai's Veloster - with its look-at-me "2+1" door arrangement - was launched to a bit of a muted fanfare last year. As it turns out, fancy doors are only worth so much when only one, relatively low-powered engine is on offer. This, the Veloster Turbo, is their comeback: set to give the VW Scirocco and Vauxhall Astra GTC a proper run for their money.

What's new?

Aside from the new bonnet scoops and restyled front and rear bumpers, Hyundai has fiddled around with the Veloster's gearbox. It's the same one you'll find in the standard car, but with longer ratios to cope with the additional power. The suspension setup has been tuned specifically for our roads too, and the power steering has been adjusted for a "more natural feel".

Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE
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First drive review: Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE
What's under the bonnet?

A new twin-scroll turbocharger - bringing the 1.6-litre petrol engine's output up from a weedy 138bhp to a more substantial 184bhp. Torque is given an even heftier increase – from 167Nm to 256Nm – and you can certainly feel it. As a result, 0-60mph comes about in a not-at-all-shabby 8.2 seconds, and top speed is 133mph – a fair increase in pace over the 9.7-second, 125mph standard model.

What's the kit like?

We drove the £21,995 Veloster Turbo SE – the only Turbo model available for now – and it's rather well equipped. Hyundai's touch screen sat nav comes as standard, as does an uprated 8-speaker audio system complete with subwoofer – both of which deserve a thumbs up. Unique 'Turbo' embellished leather seats with electric adjustment also feature, along with new 18-inch alloy wheels and – if Sir or Madam desires – the option of matt grey paint for £525.

Any rivals?

Volkswagen and Vauxhall have a pair of rivals in the Scirocco and Astra GTC, and the latter's 1.6 Turbo probably gets the closest - beating the Veloster to 60mph in 7.8 seconds and going on to a higher top speed of 137mph. It's marginally less economical, though, and misses out on a large chunk of equipment. The VW, meanwhile, is both slower and less well equipped.

Is it any good?

It's rather impressive - thanks to a boost in torque it feels suitably quick, the Turbo-only styling additions certainly look the part, and it's reasonably good fun to throw around a B-road too. The Koreans have designed an excellent interior as well, with every gadget and feature feeling well thought-out and easy to operate.

The Autoblog verdict

Turbo-badging aside, this Veloster isn't a Scirocco R or Astra VXR rival – it's not as fast for one, but it's also a little low on outright thrills. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine is very well executed, but its decidedly everyday soundtrack just doesn't get the pulse racing, even if the pace might. Think of the Turbo as the car the standard Veloster should have been – a capable cruiser with some extra style, a little B-road spirit, and oodles of torque to play with in the process.

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