While depressing little green cars muddy the automotive waters, it’s encouraging that another trend is emerging across the car making business – the competition to build small fuel efficient cars that are also a lot of fun to drive.
Multiple manufacturers are getting in the game. The SKYACTIV technology in the Mazda 3 five-door allows that zippy hatchback to flirt with 40 mpg while you bend it around corners. The Ford Fiesta doesn’t have tremendous power, but it’s solid balance makes it a favorite with rally car drivers. And the Fiat 500 is a lark to drive – and outright sinful when you tackle it in its Abarth costume.
Now, in the coming model year, Hyundai is getting in the game with the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo. CraveOnline had the opportunity to head down to San Diego and test drive the Veloster Turbo from historic Torrie Pines Golf Course down to the winding desert roads along the U.S. Mexico border.
Armed with a 1.6 liter four cylinder engine. A Forced Induction Turbocharger squeezes 201 horsepower out of the sporty, five-door hatch. And, in keeping with its roadster ambitions, the Veloster Turbo comes with a six-speed manual transmission.
The sleek body styling still packs an interesting twist unique to this and previous editions of the Veloster – a third door on a two-door hatchback. The driver’s side door stretches the length of the passenger cabin. But, the passenger side entrance is shorter, allowing for a small entryway immediately behind it to allow travelers into the admittedly cramp back seat.
The car’s only significant weakness isn’t in front of the driver while the zippy rides bites off apexes. It’s all behind the driver’s seat. The tapered rear fenders groove into a high set, narrow rear window offering a very limited field of view.
Also, the curvature of the glass wedged into that hatch produces a convex effect – distorting the scale and distance of the rear terrain or pursuing vehicles. I found myself relying heavily on the side sport mirrors throughout my test drive.
Test drivers had the opportunity to take the Veloster Turbo out on both long highway runs and over two separate rally courses set up by Hyundai test drivers. On the highway courses, the car’s front wheel drive and independent suspension lends reassuring confidence to aggressive turns.
Even with that turbocharger pushing the four cylinders, the Veloster Turbo doesn’t provide stiff acceleration. The power it does possess is responsive in the turns, though – something you want out of a sporty hatch.
Along the rally course, the car further showed off its good balance and handling precision. While it won’t make a great drifting car without rear wheel drive, the new Veloster Turbo should become a favorite of rally car drivers looking for an affordable alternative to a Subaru STI.
For a base price of $21,900 – and appealing optional extras like a flat matte paint job, the 2013 Veloster Turbo easily distances itself from previous incarnations of the car. It should do well with younger drivers looking for affordable sportiness and older drivers looking for a toy to add to their car collection.