2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec rocks my world
When Hyundai Motor America first introduced the Veloster three-door coupe/hatch, it had an intriguing exterior and interior, a well-sorted chassis but definitely not much oomph in the engine compartment. Now, in 2016 there are options for buyers that want this racy looking coupe with either pedestrian or enthusiast power plants available.
Hyundai starts with a 132-horsepower normally aspirated 1.6-liter engine for its base car and goes to a 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine for its Turbo R-Spec, Rally and Turbo editions. The latter three are definitely worth a look for those that want or need a bit more go.
Heading to Las Vegas for the penultimate NHRA race and subsequent SEMA show, I had a choice of vehicles and selected the 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec for the four-plus-hour drive (each way) and galavanting around town. This was an excellent choice; the Veloster Turbo R-Spec has great manners over-the-road and in cut-and-thrust Las Vegas traffic.
Dressed in black with red/black interior (the black headliner is very chic), the Turbo R-Spec has everything in a front-wheel-drive three-door coupe that I want, and nothing I don’t. The 201-horsepower turbocharged inline directly-injected four-cylinder engine makes its max power at 6000 rpm and has complementary 195 lb-ft of torque from 1750-4500. A lovely B&M Racing six-speed manual transmission with precise short throws is the sole available for this vehicle, with torque-vectoring control front axles and a more rigid transmission mount.
Suspension is sport-tuned and fully independent with increased spring rates and power rack-and-pinion steering is appropriately precise, albeit a bit light at low speeds. A 34.12-foot turning diameter is excellent for a FWD coupe of this type. Brakes are excellent with zero fade and the grippy P225/40R rubber rides on 15-spoke, 18-inch alloy rims. The Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec has a nice, light curb weight of 2877 pounds, helped by a lack of electronics and, in fact, any options that might have elevated the base $22,425 price including freight.
The looks of the Turbo R-Spec may not be everyone’s cup of green tea, aggressive-looking kick-butt coupe that it is, but for this writer, it’s just right. Using a fob to lock, unlock, together with a real key to start and stop this Hyundai Veloster helped to keep weight down. When first introduced in 2014, the Turbo R-Spec had red exterior accents that have, thankfully, been discarded for this year’s model. Still, with Ultra Black exterior complemented by front splitter and side blades and mini-winglet at the rear, Veloster’s racy looks invite stoplight competition.
Inside, the red leatherette-bolstered black-accented sport seats are an excellent fit and have cloth seating that is comfortable for several hours of driving, even in the white-out, snow, rain and heavy wind that punctuated the drive back to Long Beach. There’s definitely a lot of harder plastics on the upper dash but they’re not intrusive and don’t cheapen the interior’s looks. Seams and closures are world-class.
Hyundai fits, as standard, a 7-inch crisp screen in the central stack that aids parking with its rearview camera. Since there’s no navigation on this car the screen serves to note audio content (XM/Sirius is fit to the car) and the ecological apps that come with the Veloster Turbo R-Spec. Upshift suggestions are in the screen directly in front of the driver and were used here to keep the mileage up.
Mileage is rated at 25/33/28 and is accurate for this brand new vehicle, as it had less than 1,000 miles at pickup. I found using premium fuel in the 13.2-gallon tank definitely helped both mileage and power and I fully expect the mileage figures to get better as the car breaks in. Coming into Los Angeles from Victorville, our mileage was over 35-mpg but fell to 33.3 by the time the Veloster Turbo R-Spec went back to its barn.
Because this is a “basic”, no-frills car by today’s standards, it doesn’t have automatic lights but it does have the option of using daytime running lights (DRL). The cruise control is excellent, it takes minimal time to pair the phone to the Hyundai’s Bluetooth system and the only “helpers” on the Veloster Turbo R-Spec are those that pertain to performance and active safety (and are now required), like traction and stability controls along with tire pressure monitoring. From a passive safety standpoint this coupe excels with five-star overall scores, only falling to four stars on frontal driver protection and rollover.
Can we talk about cargo space? It’s huge! I managed to fit two big camera backpacks, a large filled-to- the-gills canvas bag, 22-inch suitcase and still had more room available under the covered hatch, handy space for the overloaded return. There is no spare but Hyundai furnishes a kit to refill tire air. Access to the passenger’s side rear seat is easy through the third door and there’s cup holders for anyone that wants to sit in the back (but no airflow). The front central covered storage is bi-level and open storage at the base of the central stack has a grippy floor below the two 12-volt plugs, USB and auxiliary plugs.
Trips on I-15 can be difficult, what with weather changes and hill climbs, not to mention the varying capabilities and politeness of other drivers. Our ride home in variegated weather conditions confirmed the belief that this is a safe and satisfying car to drive. When we went to white-out conditions, the four-way flashers were easy to find, the defrost system worked on demand and even the low-profile tires handled the slip-and-slide situations well. This Hyundai scoffs at cross-winds and its dual central tail-pipes announce our approach (and imminent departure).
Customarily, when review vehicles are returned and it’s time to get back into our elderly MINI Cooper it’s a moment of relief and familiarity but this time, those emotions were tinged by melancholy. The 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec is an excellent ride – I wish I could keep it.
Words and Photos by Anne Proffit