No doubt about it. Hyundai's Veloster is a headturner and it goes too, at least the turbo model does.
At a kick off price of $31,990 for the manual it's tempting. That's $3000 more than the equivalent Veloster Plus and an auto adds a further $2000 to the equation.
The Turbo offers standout design and considerably more punch than say the Astra GTC or Cruze SRi-V. Sports seats are standard along with 18 inch alloys and a body kit that includes new front grille and side skirts, plus a rear spoiler and diffuser.
A panoramic glass sunroof with motorised sunblind is also standard along with satnav and premium audio with eight speakers including a sub-woofer and external amp. Only options are paint, including the new flat matte finish that adds $1000 to the price.
Much has been made of the two doors one side, one door the other design. Suffice to say it's a talking point and one that guarantees the car a place in motoring history. In practice, the concept works just fine and after the first few days, you probably won't even notice anymore. The car itself is a knockout from any angle.
But dare we say the rear is a bit busy and could do with some simplification? The dash and interior trim could also do with some dressing up. Some sporty garnishes wouldn't go astray and the removal in this model of the contrasting silver trim has unfortunately created a dash that is drab and devoid of colour.
Five stars. Hyundai is not interested in bringing any car here that doesn't achieve a full five-star safety rating and has been proactive in making sure they make the grade. Gets six airbags and a full complement of safety systems, including electronic traction and stability control.
The 1.6-litre twin scroll turbo delivers 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque, compared with the standard model's 103kW/166Nm. It's the same engine, featuring 16 valves and the latest gasoline direct injection technology but the turbo version operates at a lower compression.
That's 46 per cent more power and 60 per cent more torque. The Turbo produces its torque much lower in the rev range too from 1750 revs compared to 4850 for the standard car. To be clear, the turbo's auto is a traditional slush box unlike the standard Veloster and Veloster Plus that gets a dual clutch system (DCT).
As yet the faster changing DCT can't cope with the extra torque of the turbo, but they're working on it. Fuel economy is a claimed 6.8 litres/100km for the manual (we got 8.5) and 7.6 litres/100km for the auto (we got 8.0).
We had the opportunity to drive the auto and manual back to back. The manual is a sweet thing, with a slick, surprisingly mature gear change that falls easily to hand. But the Turbo is not quite a hot hatch, with times in the high 6s for the auto and low 7s for the manual.
In fact, you could argue that it's not really a hatch at all but you get the picture. Nevertheless it provides plenty of performance and more importantly is a ball of fun to drive. If you're a city driver, you're going to be more interested in the 6-speed auto which includes paddle shifts. It's not bad but falls short of the snappy, intuitive change that the new Cruze delivers with its second generation auto.
Like it. Like it a lot. There's still room for improvement and it will be interesting to see where Hyundai takes this car but in the meantime there's no reason to hold back on buying one.
Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo
Price: from $31,990
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited, roadside assist
Capped servicing: 3yr/45,000km; 6 at $129-$259
Service interval: 6mths/10,000km
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, ESC, EBD, TC
Crash rating: 5-star
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo-petrol, 150kW/265Nm
Transmission: 6-spd manual; front drive
Thirst: 6.8L/100km; 91RON; 163g/km CO2
Dimensions: 4.3m (L), 1.8m (W), 1.4m (H)
Spare: Space-saver steel