Michael Karesh may have been one of the few writers to review the Hyundai Veloster without the expectation of a truly sporting drive, but even he concludes that
Those who insist on go with their show needn’t despair, only patiently wait for the turbo Hyundai’s not yet talking about.
Because Hyundai’s European executives started talking about a turbo version prior to the launch date, and Hyundai Motor America still rolls its eyes at the mere mention of a turbo Veloster, I wasn’t optimistic. But between a recent explosion of US-based spy shots of Veloster Turbo mules (both in Death Valley and near HATCI in Michigan) and a 210 HP ARK Performance-tuned Veloster Turbo heading to SEMA, I’m beginning to share Karesh’s opinion that the Veloster Turbo is an inevitability for the US market. Besides, Hyundai has earned a little fuel-burning frivolity: its year-to-date combined full-fleet fuel economy (CAFE) is 35.9 MPG, just over the 2015 standard of 35.5 MPG.
The author’s expectations play a large but rarely disclosed role in any auto review. Expect a car to be awful, and it turns out to be adequate? Then the review might even seem positive. On the other hand, if reviewers buy into the hype surrounding an upcoming model, and it turns out to be only pretty good, then the reviews can turn ugly. No one wants to be sold a bill of goods. I approached the Hyundai Veloster with different expectations than most of the automotive press.
Recently a video surfaced from the Frankfurt Auto Show, depicting Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn puzzling over the remarkable quality of Hyundai’s latest Golf competitor, the European-market i30. But if Herr Professor Dr. Winterkorn seemed perturbed, and he certainly did, it wasn’t simply because of one car, even one aimed at the heart of his empire. The i30 is simply the latest in a string of strong Hyundai products that are rapidly erasing memories of the brand’s budget-basement roots. In an industry that likes to compare itself to the fashion business, Hyundai is hot. So much so, in fact, that TTAC readers are likely beginning to tire of hearing about it.
And when brands are hot, especially on the strength of their mass-market offerings, the next logical step is to build a halo car that reflects the values that made them so popular. But Hyundai’s unconventional positioning, selling everything from a $15,000 Accent to a $60,000 Equus, and its mandate to reflect “Different Thinking” mean a traditional halo car is out of the question. Enter the Veloster. Or, as Hyundai calls it, the “reverse halo car.”