This is the new Hyundai Veloster Turbo, which uses a turbocharged version of the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine you'll find in the standard Veloster coupe.
With 184bhp and a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds, Hyundai accepts that the Veloster Turbo isn’t going to trouble cars such as the Renault Megane Renaultsport and the VW Scirocco R.
Instead, it's intended to appeal to buyers wanting a blend of aggressive styling and affordable performance. There’s no word on average fuel economy yet, but Hyundai says CO2 emissions of 156g/km are realistic.
The pre-production model we drove had bold exterior styling changes, including a new front grille and rear spoiler, beefier bumpers and sideskirts, and 18-inch alloys.
Also different was the suspension, which had been tuned to deliver a more focused drive. Uprated brakes and a restyled twin-pipe exhaust with a sportier note complete the changes.
What’s the 2012 Veloster Turbo like to drive?
It certainly needs to be better than the standard car, which suffers from numb steering, limited grip and a weak, boomy engine.
We drove the manual version (an automatic will be available, too) and engine refinement is still an issue. While you might expect more noise due to the new exhaust, it isn’t a sporty enough sound for it to be acceptable.
Flexibility is far more impressive. Hyundai has engineered a version of the engine especially for Europe, which offers more low-down torque; US cars will be slower to 62mph, but will have a slightly higher top speed.
In European configuration, the turbo spools up early, meaning you need to make far fewer gearchanges than you do in the standard Veloster. What’s more, when you do need to change gear, the shift is snappy.
Also improved – surprisingly, considering the suspension has been tweaked in favour of handling – is the ride. We drove the Turbo and the standard car on the same size (18-inch) wheels, and the Turbo was less crashy.
However, while the Turbo turns into corners quicker than the standard model, it still tells you little about what the front wheels are up to, and the back end of the car can step out when you’re pushing hard.
Of course, the Veloster Turbo hasn’t been designed to be a track-day tool, but considerable effort has been put into improving the driving dynamics, so the limited benefit in this area is disappointing.
What’s the 2012 Veloster Turbo like inside?
Our test car’ cabin was identical to the standard Veloster’s, and Hyundai says this won’t change for production models.
This means the dashboard is well laid out and easy to navigate. However, most of the plastics are hard and rear space is limited.
Like the standard car, the Turbo has a rear door on the pasenger’s side (but not on the driver’s) to aid rear access.
The only decision Hyundai still has to make is what equipment to make standard on the Turbo. This will obviously be reflected in pricing.
Should I buy one?
Although it’s important to remember that we drove a pre-production model, based on what we’ve seen, you shouldn’t buy if you’re after a proper driver’s car.
It’s not all bad news; the Turbo has a much stronger engine than the standard car, and the revised suspension improves ride comfort. However, the Turbo will sit at the top of the Veloster range, so you’ll have to pay extra for these attributes.
With prices unconfirmed it is hard to place the Veloster Turbo against competition at this stage. That said, it’s unlikely to undercut equivalent versions of the more accomplished Vauxhall Astra GTC and VW Scirocco.
Vauxhall Astra GTC
What Car? says…
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