By on October 26, 2016

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo rearRed 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 2013.2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo interiorFLEXIBILITY?
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.)2016 Hyundai Veloster Exterior detailFRUSTRATION
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.2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo interior detailFAST?
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, 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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38 Comments on “2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Review – Five Years Old...”

  • avatar

    The Veloster Turbo can make a case for itself as a 2 year old $15k used car, but as a $25-26k new car? No. Though Hyundai has recently been offering huge incentives on the Veloster (finally), so a new loaded Turbo is now in the $21-22k range.

    The problem with the car is that it over promises and under delivers. As mentioned, the DCT sucks, so the 6 speed is the only way to go. It is reasonably quick on it’s own, but in real life is is just average amongst regular cars. The hatchback space looks great, but in real life the lift over is very high and the seats don’t fold flat. Visibility sucks in any direction except straight ahead, and you have to live with the motorized backup camera thunking open and closed every time you select reverse. And you’d think the 3rd door would help access to the rear seat, but it really doesn’t. It is very hard to swing your legs in and out. Strictly for kids or babies.

    • 0 avatar

      And the worst part is how you have to be seen driving around in a Veloster, and be associated with the majority of people who drive them.

      Got your white Oakleys ready?

      • 0 avatar

        I sold Hyundais for 5 years. The Veloster was bought by a shockingly wide cross section of drivers, from young kids to people in their 60’s. Men, women, gay, straight. Even sold Velosters to young families with car seats.

      • 0 avatar

        As I mentioned in the previous article I own a 2013 Veloster. With my driving style and conservative nature a Buick would probably be a better car for me, but I fell in love with the Veloster styling (and you have to be in love to live with the ride quality) and had to get one.

        People are free to love or hate the look, but it *has* a look and that is special in today’s roads filled with boxy crossovers that all look the same. The styling is aging well too, there is more finesse than gimmick to it.

        It’s a shame the car won’t get a second generation. New Hyundais have better sorted chassis, which is all the Veloster really needs.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I think the car’s proposition is based 100% on price. At $21k you are knee-deep in better cars.
      But for the real world selling prices, it’s a pretty compelling choice:

      You can probably get that for around $17k similar to the featured car but with a stick. Of course the listed price includes being an active military cop farmer who just graduated from school last week and currently owns a Hyundai and a competing brand.
      It will still have all the same shortcomings, but they’d be a lot easier to live with knowing you spent so little. It would be hard to get more for your money, but the question is if you are willing to spend that much more. I’d assume a lot of people would/do.

  • avatar

    I have to give them credit for making something which looks different. There isn’t any other car on the road you’d mistake for this. But if it falls down on being a sporty car, and it falls down on being a practical hatchback, and it falls down at looking good, why bother?

    Perhaps these customers will move over to the new Cruze Hatchback, which I’m just about 100% certain will be a better car.

    • 0 avatar

      As mentioned, this is Hyundai’s version of the CRZ…it does neither mission well. But it sells better than the CRZ, apparently.

      • 0 avatar

        Honda really screwed the CRZ. They had an opportunity there, and the people who know how to make it good already work for them.

        Unfortunately the person they let run the planning meeting was an eco-mentalist.

  • avatar

    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.

    Pfffffffffffff… Is that all?

  • avatar

    It looks like the Sonata 1.6T is faster and more fuel efficient. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was more fun to drive too.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Spoiler alert: it is.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a new rental spec Sonata this week in St. Louis. I have not a clue what is under the hood, but the thing is showing high 30’s mpg in suburbia, is quiet and refined, and rides, stops, and steers quite nicely in a quiet and soothing sort of way. Very Buick in a good way. Krhodes1 rental approved. So much better than a Camry if you must drive something dull but worthy.

  • avatar

    “Headroom for adults is limited in back”

    Headroom for adults is limited **in the front**

  • avatar

    Hyundai should buy Lotus. They could use the expertise.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I believe they hired Lotus to sort the suspension on the Genesis G80, previously the Hyundai Genesis, so there is some truth to this.

      However, since Genesis has been spun off into its own brand, I would expect any true Lotus engineering and expertise to be diverted to that brand. The Hyundai brand itself needs only to make its suspensions less crashy and more composed, and the Hyundai engineers seem to have been making good inroads with that on their own.

      Oh, and if Genesis does end up significantly utilizing Lotus, don’t expect any branding tie-ins like they did in the 90s (see Vauxhall Lotus Carlton).

    • 0 avatar

      Lotus also tuned the suspension on the first-gen Tiburon.

    • 0 avatar

      My brother’s first car was a ’99 Tibby. I always loved it.

  • avatar

    I am not sure why you keep comparing the Veloster to the Elantra… I am pretty sure the Veloster is built of the ACCENT platform….

  • avatar

    good lord, can they STAHP IT ALREADY with the enormous gaping-mouth grilles?

  • avatar

    A Fiesta ST is the same price, right?

  • avatar

    So basically, if you want this engine in a hatchback, go find yourself a Forte5 SX.

  • avatar

    In theory this is the ideal car for my wife, it ticks all the right boxes: turbo, different looking, hatchback. Unfortunately it falls short in every other category especially in looks and quickness. So her ’08 Volvo C30 continues on, having no modern day replacement. She finds the Mini unappealing mostly due to the silly retro interior. The CRZ is a major disappointment. The Audi TT sort of fits the bill, however past VeeDub experience (B5 Passat) makes us a touch worried.

  • avatar

    Shame about the DSG. I can see the meeting:

    Engineering team: Our new dual clutch transmission is finished. It shifts exponentially faster than the old traditional auto and it gets better gas mileage.

    Sales team: Nice. Are there any downsides we need to know about?

    Engineering team: It’s more mechanically complex, so it is more expensive to maintain and probably less reliable long term.

    Sales team: You know this has to be covered under our 100 thousand mile powertrain warranty right?

    Engineering team: ….I….Well I suppose we could reprogram the computer to the most conservative shift points possible to prolong the life… but it would completely defeat the purpose of having developed this new transmission in the first place.

    Sales team: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • avatar

    It would be nice if Honda offered a sportier version of the Fit.

    • 0 avatar

      If Honda offered a Fit with the 2.0 liter four in the base Civic LX I’d buy one today. The NA 1.5 is just too small and strained for two (admittedly oversized) adults and cargo.

  • avatar
    Henry Leung

    I agree with the author 100%.

    On paper, the VW GTI and the Veloster Turbo are surprisingly similar in almost every area.
    I was able to rent a Hyundai Veloster Turbo for a work trip and I test drove a GTI separately. Driving them, the experience is completely different. The sum is definitely more than the parts and the tuning experience from the Germans definitely separates the driving experience of the GTI from the Veloster.

  • avatar

    This car was interesting when it came out, but now it seems lacking. If you want true fun to drive sportiness, I can’t see why you’d buy this over a Fiesta/Focus ST. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Mazda 3 2.5 and Honda Civic Turbo probably also match this car for fun to drive while being a lot more comfortable and quicker. All of the above are more practical with their 5 door hatch bodies.

  • avatar

    Out of all the rental cars I’ve had over the past few years, the seat and ergonomics of the driver’s side of the cabin was the best that I’ve ever been in. Seat comfort was a 6-7/10 – I did love the bolstering, it kept me well planted. [66″ height, 29″ inseam, 130lb] I was driving recklessly around PGH and the base Veloster’s suspension was adequate.

    If I was in a pinch but wanted a new car, I’d buy one, maybe. MAYBE.

  • avatar

    Does anyone else have to resist the urge to call this thing the Hyundai Velociraptor?

  • avatar

    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.

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