... the little car sat nice and flat through the corners and seemed to point and turn-in well ...
Ian Crawford road tests and reviews the Hyundai Veloster.
Hyundai is set to spice up its Australian model line-up later in the year when it releases an innovative, head-turning compact coupe/crossover.
Dubbed the Veloster and built on the new Elantra platform, the stylish three-door made its debut at the Detroit motor show back in January and the most stand-out feature other than its styling is a third forward-hinged door that simplifies rear seat access.
Already on sale in Korea and the US, Veloster is currently undergoing steering and suspension tweaking in Australia to tune it for local conditions.
Final spec' and pricing for Australia is yet to be finalised, but it's worth noting that the entry-level model's US price tag is a red-hot bargain at $17,800 and that's in their dollars, not ours. Another version is being considered for Australia fitted with goodies such as a panoramic roof, satnav and 18-inch alloys (the entry-level version has 17s.)
Unlike the Mini wagon that has a similar one-side extra-door set-up, for right-hand-drive markets the Veloster's rear-hinged unit is on the left-hand or kerb side for passenger safety rather than the driver's side as is the case on the not-so-safe right-hand-drive Mini.
Veloster buyers will have the choice of mating a new 1.6-litre, direct-injection, petrol four with either a new six-speed dual-clutch automatic or a manual box with the same number of cogs. The auto is Hyundai's first dual-clutch unit and it was developed in-house. It endows the sexy little coupe with a five-or-six per cent boost in fuel efficiency and a three-to-seven per cent improvement in acceleration.
The new so-called Gamma engine is the smallest Hyundai makes and delivers 103kW at 6300rpm and 167Nm at 4850rpm. Hyundai claims fuel-consumption of a pretty miserly 5.9-litres during highway cruising. The engine has dual continuously variable valve timing, electronic throttle control, variable induction, anti-friction coatings and diamond-like carbon coatings.
It rides on a MacPherson-strut front and rear end with mono-tube dampers for enhanced ride comfort.
In the safety department, Veloster scores a full suite of the good stuff including vehicle-stability-management.
Styled at Hyundai's studio at the Namyang R and D centre, the designers drew their inspiration from a high-performance sport motorcycle with the black A-pillars giving the windscreen a motorcycle helmet look. Inside is dominated by a centre stack and controls that also have motorcycle inspiration Also borrowed from the motorcycle is the floor-mounted centre-console armrest that has been made to look a bike seat.
In Korea for a first sample of the Veloster, we were limited to a short section of the Namyang proving ground known as the "high-speed handling road" and it was a section of bitumen that did not quite live up to its title. That said, we were able to get the Veloster up to around 150km/h and throw it with some enthusiasm through a few corners in the US spec' cars at our disposal.
While the little car sat nice and flat through the corners and seemed to point and turn-in well, the electronic stability system did kick in with a degree of intrusion if you pushed things too hard for its liking. That said, the initial impressions were good and if the current steering- and suspension-tuning program that's currently under way in Australia delivers the goods, the Veloster will hold its own in the handling stakes.
The new dual-clutch six-speed automatic works a treat and appears to be as good as anything from Europe. We now have to wait till the Australian launch in November or early December to see whether this car that holds so much promise lives up to Hyundai's expectations.
Price: from $22,000 (est)
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited km
Service interval: 12months/15,000km
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder 103kW/167Nm
Transmissions: 6-speed DSG; 6-speed man; front-wheel drive
Body: 3-door hatch
Weight: 1172kg; 1205kg (DCT)
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine + electric motor, 91kW/167Nm (CVT), 174Nm (manual)
Transmission: Six-speed manual, CVT; front-wheel drive
Body: Three-door hatch
Thirst: 5.0 litres/100km, 118g/km CO2 (manual), 4.7 litres/100km, 111g/km CO2 (CVT)
Toyota 86- compare this car
Price: $35,000 (estimate only)
Engine: 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed four cylinder
Transmission: six-speed manual or automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body: Two-door hatchback, four seats
Thirst: 8.0 l/100km, 7.7 l/100km (manual)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol 4-cylinder; 184kW/340Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual: FWD
Body: Two-door hatchback
Thirst: 10.7L/100km tested