In recent years there’s been a bit of a lack of affordable cars that would make the average person look twice, but the wait is at an end. Please welcome the Hyundai Veloster Turbo SE. It takes the somewhat unusual door layout of the known Veloster, but adds a more prominent and aggressive set of bumpers, two fabulously huge central exhausts and side skirts to make teenagers weep with longing.
It looks absolutely stunning. Where the common-or-garden Veloster is a bit awkward to look at, the Turbo SE strikes a blow at the heart of just about every other hot hatch on the market. Where else can you get this much visual wow factor for this much money? Large, two-finish alloy wheels and a larger, mouthier grille give it real attitude, which is then backed up by a new turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine under the bonnet.
Pushing out a claimed 201bhp, the Veloster Turbo isn’t as powerful as some other hot hatches on the market, but outright performance isn’t what the car is about. It’s designed as a usable everyday hot hatch and therefore has to tick a number of boxes. SE means Special Equipment, and there’s plenty of it. Leather seats with an embossed Turbo logo come as standard, along with an exceptionally clear sat-nav system operated through a seven-inch touchscreen interface.
You also get a reversing camera, which is a boon because rear visibility isn’t the best. The navigation system brings an upgraded stereo system as well, with a more powerful amplifier and a subwoofer for deeper bass. The touchscreen makes the systems a joy to use and combined with the way the Turbo SE drives, the ‘everyday usability’ box is well and truly ticked. The four-cylinder engine is smooth from low revs, quiet and tractable thanks to a very broad spread of torque.
It encourages a perfectly normal driving style, almost as if it’s pretending to be an i30 compact hatch. With only a few hundred kilometres on the odometer the engine feels a little tight, but it’s also clear that with a few more long trips under its wheels it will be good for every bit of its claimed performance. It’s fair to say it’s not the most aurally exciting thing, but when the revs rise towards 6,000rpm there is a bit of a snarl.
Hyundai has firmed up the suspension to give a more controlled ride and the Turbo SE does enjoy corners much more convincingly than the standard Veloster. The steering could do with a little more feel, but it’s accurate and well weighted. It corners impressively flatly though, adding a real sense of dynamism that’s boosted by the well-bolstered seats that keep front seat occupants from sliding around.
The left-hand side of the car has two doors, the rear of which is designed to be as sleek as possible with the handle ‘hidden’ in the black corner panel in the window area. The aperture is a little restrictive because of the heavily sloping roof, but children — for whom the rear seats are really intended — will have no problems. There are few optional extras, but a tilt and slide sunroof is available with any of the paint shades.
For the first time Hyundai is offering matte finish, in a sort of military grey colour and for a very reasonable cost. It looks perfect on the Veloster Turbo SE, but is a little trickier to maintain than standard finishes. Worth the hassle? You decide. Efficiency was also high on the list of priorities for Hyundai in building this car. CO2 emissions are pretty low at 157g/km, and official tests have brought up 5.7 litres-per-100km on the combined cycle.
That’s good going for a car like this, and it seems more likely to get close to its on-paper figures than a few of its rivals because of the way it encourages steady driving. Overall it’s an undemanding car, this. You can stroke it along with the greatest of ease and get a swift pace up when the occasion calls, but dynamically it doesn’t ask too much of a driver. It’s exactly what it needs to be at this point in Hyundai’s future history, and it’s not a bad thing by any means.
Very few cars will give the ownership satisfaction of something this bold-looking and yet so easy to get along with day to day. Its trump card is definitely the way it looks. ‘Wow’ is a word that crops up often around it, and that’s a big pull to potential buyers’ hearts. The all-round ability and level of specification it boasts is more than enough to sway even the most level-headed customer’s mind, and the result is a convincing package.
Specs and ratings
Model: Veloster Turbo SE
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cyl
Transmission: Six-speed auto, FWD
Max power: 201bhp @ 6,000rpm
Max torque: 265Nm @ 1,750rpm
Top speed: NA