2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Review – Five Years Old

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
2016 hyundai veloster turbo review five years old
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning

Although the old adage operates with impeccable accuracy where I live, near the 45th parallel, the sign of a red sky in the morning lacks the same meaning closer to the equator where winds are less likely to blow west to east.

Likewise, in vehicular terms, there are signs that hold true in most corners of the industry but fail to prognosticate with perfect consistency across the board.

Apparently, against reasonable expectations and legends painted in the eastern sky, a supremely stiff suspension, weighty steering, and a Golf GTI-like weight-to-power ratio do not automatically result in the issuance of performance car credentials.

Hooked up to a dual-clutch transmission, the 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo isn’t all that quick, doesn’t corner with uncommon verve, and isn’t particularly enjoyable to engage on twisty rural roads.

But the Veloster looks the part, and it’s loaded with enough equipment to embarrass many a premium car. Oh, the conundrum.


Love it or hate it, the Hyundai Veloster is not simply a hatchback version of the previous-generation Elantra. Five years after launching, the Veloster still stands out, particularly when viewed from the rear. The slope of the roofline, the bulging fenders, the concave portions on the tailgate, and the gigantic dual exhaust pipes centered in the rear diffuser combine to separate the Veloster from mainstream hatchbacks.

The Veloster isn’t to the Elantra what the GTI is to the Golf or the Si is to the Civic. This is Hyundai’s version of the Volkswagen Scirocco we can’t buy; the Honda CRX the CR-Z turned out not to be.

And surely style still matters. While the bulk of new car sales are produced by conventional cars that top best seller lists, cars like the Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Sentra that prioritize function over form, there remains room in the market for cars which favor form over function.

In fact, demand for the five-year-old Veloster really hasn’t dwindled as much as you might expect for such a style-centric device. Hyundai USA is on pace to sell roughly 27,000 Velosters in 2016, down by about a fifth from its peak in 2012 but up more than 10 percent from last year. Fiat 500 sales have plunged by nearly two-thirds since 2012. Scion FR-S sales have fallen by more than half since 2013.


Perhaps it helps that in its quest to find a swanky wardrobe, the Hyundai Veloster retained a fair chunk of its donor platform’s practicality and thus a modicum of mainstream appeal. The third door on the passenger side makes rear ingress better than in a conventional coupe, albeit worse than with a proper door. Though encroached upon by the fast-sloping roof and a high liftover, cargo volume is still a decent 15.5 cubic feet, more than you’ll get in the trunk of an Elantra sedan.

Headroom for adults is limited in back, but there’s no difficulty getting a couple of child seats installed back there. Visibility, admittedly impaired by a thick bar on the rear window, isn’t so bad that it’s impossible to park a car with such tidy dimensions. (The Veloster is a foot shorter than the new Elantra sedan.)

There’s also a heavy load of features available at a low price point. The $22,600 Veloster Turbo, not to be confused with Hyundai USA’s Turbo R-Spec or Turbo Rally, includes proximity access, leather seating, an eight-speaker Dimension audio system, heated front cushions, and power lumbar support. Hyundai’s $2,700 Tech Package adds navigation, automatic climate control, and a spectacular panoramic sunroof to make a handsomely equipped $25,300 hatch, or $26,500 with the dual-clutch transmission. (This Hyundai Canada-supplied car stickered at CAD $30,494.)


Please save $1,200 and avoid the two-pedal offender. We’re not of the mind that, “All automatics are bad,” or, “You’re not an enthusiast if you don’t shift for yourself.” Nah, this transmission just sucks. It’s awful. It’s a deal breaker, a no go, a you-couldn’t-pay-me-$1,200 kind of transmission.

There’s more lag off the line than Usain Bolt will display after a night of celebrating his ninth gold medal. (It’s worsened, in the Veloster, by a few ounces of turbo lag, as well.) The whole point of dual-clutch transmissions is to prepare the engagement of the next gear for the ultimate in quick shifting. So why is the Veloster forever slurring shifts, why is it responding slowly to paddle inputs, why must it persist in a gear too high for the circumstances?

You’ll grow accustomed to the transmission’s delayed responses, I suppose. You’ll pop the shifter into sport mode, where the Veloster Turbo DCT behaves fractionally better but becomes no more intelligent, and you’ll survive.

But will your kidneys survive the first or third or seventh pothole, let alone the 17th, 70th, or 700th? Outside the car, I was sure I saw 225/40R18 Kumho Solus rubber wrapped around handsome alloy wheels. But inside the car, making my way through the city, it feels as though Hyundai forgot the rubber. And the suspension.

Few, if any, cars I’ve driven this year traversed pavement anywhere near this stiffly. It’s a problem in daily driving. It’s a bigger problem when you wish to make hasty progress on a fun road, as the Veloster busily skips around on bumps both minor and major and the steering is initially unwilling to move off center and then becomes recalcitrant in its return to center.


So hasty progress you do not make. It’s simply not worth it. And the more sedate pace is in keeping with the Veloster’s 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo/seven-speed DCT combo anyway. By modern standards, this isn’t a truly quick car. Car And Driver’s test of a 2016 Veloster Turbo DCT resulted in a 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds. That’s four-tenths of a second quicker than a four-cylinder, CVT-equipped Honda Accord — ooh, aah — but a second and a half off the time set by Car And Driver in a 2015 Golf GTI fitted with Volkswagen’s dual-clutch transmission.

The Veloster Turbo’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder is punchy in the mid-range and undeniably makes the little hatch an able point-and-shoot hatchback in traffic, where you suddenly realize three lanes need to be crossed in order to get to an off-ramp on the far right side of an interstate. But if the Veloster Turbo is going to be considered a fun car, it’ll be because of the way it looks, because of the image it projects, and because of its feature count.

To Hyundai’s credit, even five years into the first-generation Veloster’s tenure, the automaker needs only to sort the suspension, steering, and shift quality in order to turn the Veloster Turbo into a bona fide hot hatch. Granted, successfully executing such a strategy likely isn’t as easy as predicting the weather on the north Atlantic.

[Images: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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2 of 39 comments
  • Legacygt Legacygt on Oct 27, 2016

    When I first saw the Veloster at the NYIAS I was certain that Hyundai had a huge hit on its hands. It was following up on the major improvements brand-wide, particularly the Sonata at the time. The car seem reasonably priced and hotly styled. I predicted that high school parking lots around the country would be full of these things. Maybe they are. I don't know. But I sure don't see as many of them as I expected to based on the styling and specs that I saw at that auto show. Maybe people actually do care about the way cars drive and the Veloster simply drops the ball in that department.

  • Richard Richard on Aug 11, 2023

    I've seen the review above. Perhaps because it's tge base Turbo model that it's berated so. I'm not in the review bidness. But I can draw on experience. I've owned (3) lower line Porsches. The 944 Turbo, 924 and 914 2.0. I currently own a 2016 Veloster r spec Turbo. Dollar for dollar, dependability, acceleration, handling and cornering, I'll take my Veloster any day of the week. Throw in costs of insurance and there's no question. I've neverbdriven just the Turbo Veloster. But while they've said acceleration 0 to 60 isn't bragworthy, the B & M short semi-racing shifter and my abilities, I've beaten on roll starts every comparable level ove come up against. Cornering and handling, excellent. Weight distribution of the Veloster, it's stance, feels better as well except for the 914, which basically feels like a go cart. And once my Veloster gets a little speed started, the acceleration seems exponentially quicker as you go. You won't find a more comfortable car in its class regarding leg room and comfort yet you have the feeling of being strapped into a cockpit of sorts. I've not owned a car that brought more curiosity and compliments either. In fact, the one I have is my second. Same model, same year. My first was totalled. That's how much I've loved owning this car! Than you Hyundai. Always room for improvement, but really not much needed.

  • Chris Doering I have a decent 78 xe lots of potential
  • Kat Laneaux Wonder if they will be able to be hacked into (the license plates) and then you get pulled over for invalid license plates or better yet, someone steal your car and transpose numbers to show that they are the owners. Just a food for thought.
  • Tassos Government cheese for millionaires, while idiot Joe biden adds trillions to the debt.What a country (IT ONCE WAS!)
  • Tassos screw the fat cat incompetents. Let them rot. No deal.
  • MaintenanceCosts I think if there's one thing we can be sure of given Toyota's recent decisions it's that the strongest version of the next Camry will be a hybrid. Sadly, the buttery V6 is toast.A Camry with the Highlander/Sienna PSD powertrain would be basically competitive in the sedan market, with the slow death of V6 and big-turbo options. But for whatever reason it seems like that powertrain is capacity challenged. Not sure why, as there's nothing exotic in it.A Camry with the Hybrid Max powertrain would be bonkers, easily the fastest thing in segment. It would likewise be easy to build; again, there's nothing exotic in the Hybrid Max powertrain. (And Hybrid Max products don't seem to be all that constrained, so far.)