Sunday, July 3, 2016

Review: 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec

Back in 2012, we drove the then-new 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo and touted its avant garde looks, better-than-expected fuel economy, and gusty power. Fast forward to 2016, and Hyundai still offers the boosted hatchback in a few trim levels, including this R-Spec variant, which is the least expensive way to get into the turbocharged Hyundai. This is the model buyers will want who don’t need all the extras goodies that might be found on the standard Veloster Turbo or Veloster Turbo Rally Edition models. In other words, if you just want a more basic Veloster Turbo, this is the one to get.

For a base price of $21,600, you’ll get the 201 hp turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter engine, which makes 195 ft/lbs put through a six-speed manual with a standard B&M Racing short-throw shifter. If you want the dual-clutch automatic, you’ll have to select another trim package. You’ll also get a torque-vectoring front diff (read: limited-slip), unique 18-inch alloys wrapped in 225/40/18 tires, a sport-tuned suspension with higher spring rates, very cool red leather and cloth seating, and a 450 watt stereo with subwoofer.

What you don’t get with the R-Spec, is the panoramic sunroof, a driver’s window with auto power down, heated seats, navigation, or automatic headlights. Those niceties require going up a couple of trim levels.

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R Spec Interior

Those aforementioned red seats look awesome, however, I do wish there was as bit more support and overall bolstering. After all, this is the R-Spec, right? Other than that, I still very much enjoyed the car’s modern interior, which still looks cool four model years later. Plus, most of the ergonomics are decent. Mercedes liked the fact the stereo still has knobs (as did I). She also noted the big blind spots, and she was spot on. Rearward visibility isn’t great, which can make lane changes dicey. One thing: That driver’s door is heavy and opens very wide! Speaking of doors, don’t forget the passenger’s side has two doors—one small door behind the main door—for easy entry and egress.

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R Spec in a vineyard

In 2012, our Veloster Turbo came with the six-speed automatic transmission. Our R-Spec tester felt much more spirited with the manual transmission, and the B&M Racing shifter felt good underhand with crisp, short throws. Clutch uptake was good, too. However, we do wish the car had a hill-hold feature. I mean, even the Chevrolet Spark has this nowadays. Straight-line performance isn’t necessarily in VW GTI territory, but it was faster than I remembered. Our Veloster Turbo R-Spec’s forte was definitely in the corners where its grippy tires, stiff suspension, and quick steering help to make the car a lot of fun. I was extremely impressed by the car’s handling, and very much enjoyed driving it in the corners. Again, better than the 2013 I tested. And that torque-vectoring differential really pulls the front end through the twisties with minimal understeer. Make no mistake, the highway ride is stiff, but you’ll be rewarded in the curves.

Previously, I remarked that I’d like to hear more exhaust note from this Hyundai. I am not sure if the exhaust tuning was changed on the R-Spec or not, but it certainly seemed to have a bit more tone.

Rated at 25 city, 28 combined, and 33 highway MPG, we saw just around 29 MPG, and spent a good deal of time on the highways at 65 MPH as we drove the Veloster from Portland to Yakima, WA, some 400 miles. Due to the 40-series tires, there was a fair bit of road noise, but the powerful stereo helped to drown that out.

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R Spec in a vineyard rear

The additions of the sport suspension, the short-throw shifter, and manual transmission turned the Veloster Turbo R-Spec into a very fun car—much more so than I remembered previously. In fact, I would consider buying one if I were in the market for a small, fun car. It’s got a hell of a warranty, felt well built, and was hoot to drive—and the price is certainly right. While it might not be as fast as the Ford Fiesta ST, and might not have the scrappy personality of the Fiat 500 Abarth, it’s versatile, fun to drive, and I like the looks. I like it a lot better than the automatic transmission-equipped version we drove five years ago. Granted, Hyundai has gone from a traditional automatic to a dual-clutch setup on their “point-and-shoot” models, but I’d still opt for the manual any day.

If you’re shopping for a hot hatch, I’d say the Veloster Turbo R-Spec should definitely be on your shopping list.

THE BASICS: 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec
MSRP As Tested: $22,570
Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC direct-injected turbo 4 cyl.
Transmission: 6 MT
Horsepower: 201
Torque:s 195 lb/ft
Curb Weight: 2,877 lbs.
Wheelbase: 104.3
Overall Length: 167.3"
Suspension: F: MacPherson Struts
R: Twist beam
Brakes: F: Disc w/ABS
R: Disc w/ABS
Wheels: 18" alloys
Tires: 225/40/18 Kumho Solus
Fuel Economy (MPG): 25 city, 28 combined, 33 highway
Fuel Type: Regular 87 octane

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