THE exterior of the Veloster SR Turbo already gives a clear indication of its intentions but start it up, rev the engine and it's like music for the soul.
When we drove the Veloster + (with a naturally aspirated engine) some six months ago, we approached it with the same flutter of anticipation and were mildly disappointed - it looked the part but there was not much go.
The SR Turbo with its direct injection, turbocharged engine has none of those hang ups impressing in a not so quietly confident way from the start. A pleasing price-tag and a fistful of extras make it all the more appealing.
Interestingly Hyundai has chosen to treat the interior of the Veloster Turbo with relaxed elegance instead of the all-out bling usually favoured in hot hatches.
There is a part of me that would prefer a tad more colour in the speedo and tacho fixtures to perhaps add a dash of daring but all in all it remains a favourable impression.
The instruments and dials are thoughtfully set out (except for the start/stop button), the chrome highlights add interest and the cheaper plastics are well hidden.
The front seats are well designed and supportive with generous width not usually associated with sporty numbers. The rear pew is a tad flat but more than manageable. The space in the back is a feather in Hyundai's cap with good legroom and fair headroom despite a sloping roof. The boot is surprisingly big and deep with a large mouth making it easy to stow more awkward items.
On the road
With a 46% increase in power and almost 60% rise in torque the Turbo is streets ahead of the naturally-aspirated Veloster range. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine delivers an easy exciting ride with most of the thrills promised by its sporty exterior.
Both the steering wheel and gear stick of our test car felt naturally comfortable in the hand serving as willing partners in the Turbo's impressive dance. Gear shifts are smooth, the clutch catches early and the SR gets about with purpose warming to even the most arduous tasks with minimum fuss.
Torque is available lower down the rev range (from 1750rpm) negating a large percentage of turbo lag with the Veloster using the additional armour to keep the driver on side. Steering, for the most part is direct, with the Turbo showing great flair for corners even when they are combined with steep climbs.
This Veloster SR was tuned for Australian conditions and it shows in its agility and ability on roads which have seen better days.
The brakes are better too with larger and thicker front rotors helping with brake fade - a confidence boosting thought when you are really putting the car through its paces.
The past 12 months have seen something resembling a resurgence in hot hatches with the Mini Cooper S (from $40,700), Renault Megane RS250 (from $41,990), Subaru BRZ ($36,990), Toyota 86 (from $29,990) and Citroen DS3 DSport (from $27,990 drive-away) all jostling for position on the starting grid.
What do you get?
Superior standard inclusions are now a given with Hyundai and the Veloster Turbo follows in this vein. Features enhancing the value-for-money factor include Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry with push-button start, 18-inch wheels, electric glass sunroof, reverse camera and sensors, sat nav, auto headlights and automatic climate control.
A five-star ANCAP rating comes courtesy of the full safety suite, including an anti-lock braking system with EBD and brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control, side impact intrusion bars and six airbags.
The rear left passenger door is not simply a conversation piece - it is useful too.
It is always next to the kerb making for a safer exit and the wide opening allows easy access especially for those doing up car seats.
Rear vision is hampered by a small sloping window although parking is helped by a reverse camera and sensors.
Passengers sit directly under the rear window which on hot days with the sun beating down can be a slightly uncomfortable experience.
We averaged about 7.7 litres/100km with quite a bit of urban driving thrown into that mix. It is obviously more than the 6.8 litres/100km promised by Hyundai but not by much especially considering the thirst of some rivals. Hyundai offers a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and three years capped price servicing.
If the entry Veloster made you sit up and take notice the improvements made to the Turbo SR will really grab the attention.
In keeping with Hyundai's "fluidic sculpture" design language the Veloster Turbo has deeper side skirts, a larger spoiler, restyled bumpers and a bigger grille.
Whether you are picking the kids up, are out for a leisurely afternoon drive or making a late-night dash to the supermarket, it certainly is a crowd puller.
What matters most
What we liked: Sporty nature, quality inclusions.
What we'd like to see: Better vision, auto wipers.
Warranty and servicing: Five-year unlimited kilometres warranty, three years fixed-price servicing and one year road-side assist. Servicing is every six months or 7500km, at and average of $194.
Model: Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo.
Details: Three-door front-wheel drive hot hatch.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic or six-speed manual
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol generating maximum power of 150kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 256Nm between 1750rpm-4500rpm.
Consumption: 6.8 litres/100km (7.6 litres auto) combined average.
CO2: 163g/km; 181g/km (auto)
Bottom line: $31,990 (manual); $33,990 (auto) plus on-roads.
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