Though it may look like a hot hatch, the Hyundai Veloster lacked the power needed to live up to that billing. But that might change. Hyundai unveiled the 2013 Veloster Turbo at the North American International Auto Show, with 63 more horsepower and 72 more lb-ft than the non-turbo and a few exterior tweaks that could make the Veloster Turbo eligible for a spot in the hot hatch pantheon.
On the outside, a few cosmetic enhancements give the already showy Veloster an even more rambunctious presence. The Veloster Turbo maintains the standard model's 104.3-inch wheelbase but grows 1.2 inches in length, and adds 0.6 inch in width. Gone is the standard Veloster's bucktoothed front end, replaced by a wide-open, hexagonal grille flanked by small, round foglights. The Veloster Turbo also gets a unique rear valance with a diffuser and new dual round-tip center exhaust setup. Turbo-specific side skirts and 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/40R18 tires contribute to the Veloster Turbo's tuner-inspired look. Two exclusive Turbo colors are Endurance Gray and Matte Gray, Hyundai's first-ever matte paint. In addition, the Turbo model can be had in Elite White, Kona Orange, and Hydrate Blue, the three new colors available for all 2013 Velosters.
Obviously, the biggest change is the addition of a turbocharger. Unlike a do-it-yourself turbo kit, the Veloster Turbo's forced induction system is engineered for both power and efficiency. The turbocharged, direct-injected 1.6-liter I-4 produces 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, up 63 hp and 72 lb-ft from the standard Veloster's non-turbo 1.6-liter. The turbo's exhaust manifold and turbine housing are integrated into a single stainless steel piece -- much like the unit found on the Sonata Turbo's turbocharged 2.0-liter.
Hyundai say the turbocharger uses exhaust energy more efficiently thanks to its twin-scroll, split-inlet turbine housing design. Boost pressure is controlled by an electronic wastegate that provides a maximum of 18 psi when the spurs are put to it and opens up completely when the turbo isn't needed, further improving efficiency. Hyundai says the manual-equipped Veloster Turbo will achieve an estimated 27 mpg in the city, and 38 mpg on the highway. Figures for automatic models have yet to be determined.
In true sporty car fashion, a six-speed manual transmission comes standard, with a wider gear ratio spread compared to the non-turbo car to make better use of the increased power and torque. A six-speed automatic is also offered, and comes with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. This unit was developed in-house at Hyundai, and features a slightly narrower gear spread compared to the standard model's dual-clutch Ecoshift DCT transmission, a feature that helps keep the car's turbocharged engine in its power band when changing gears.
Hyundai names the Volkswagen GTI, Honda Civic Si, and Mini Cooper S (and Clubman S) as the Veloster Turbo's main competitors, and claims its car has a better power-to-weight ratio than all of them. At 2800 pounds, the Veloster Turbo is 77 pounds lighter than the Civic Si and 234 pounds lighter than VW's GTI, according to Hyundai. This weight advantage could give the Veloster Turbo an edge in the performance department.
Apart from the increased power, the only other major performance upgrade is the steering - another area that we've found lacking on the base car. There's a quick-ratio steering rack with revised steering calibration meant to deliver better feedback and control. As with the standard Veloster, electric power steering is used on the turbo model for adjustability and fuel savings over a conventional hydraulic power steering system. The Veloster Turbo's suspension is mostly carryover from the standard model. Like all Velosters, it gets a McPherson strut front suspension with coil springs, gas shocks, and a 24mm front sway bar. The rear end gets the same V-torsion beam setup found on the standard model, complete with integrated 23mm rear stabilizer bar and monotube shocks.
Inside, the Veloster Turbo gets full leather seats with the word "Turbo" emblazoned on the seatbacks. The car also gets an exclusive Supervision Cluster that uses two TFT screens between the tachometer and speedometer to relay important info to the driver. Heated front seats are standard, along with a pushbutton start and alloy pedals. As with the standard model, the Veloster Turbo gets a standard 7-inch multifunction touch-screen display. The system has Pandora Internet radio capability, and can stream music from an iPhone to the Veloster Turbo's 450-watt, eight-speaker Dimension audio system with an 8inch subwoofer and iPod, USB, and auxiliary inputs. Bluetooth audio streaming is also standard, along with a hands-free phone system. Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system will also be offered, with features like voice-to-text messaging, Automatic Crash Notification, and SOS Emergency Assistance.
While the updates to the Veloster Turbo look good on paper, we'll wait to drive it before dubbing it a true hot hatch.