Wind up to full noise
There’s just the one fully loaded model, priced from $28,990 with a six-speed manual (sevenspeed twin-clutch auto adds $2300). It shares the Veloster Turbo driveline but it has a more advanced chassis. Includes a full body kit, 17-inch alloys, sports bucket seats, redstitched leather trim and power sunroof. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard but satnav is surprisingly absent (supply problems we’re told). Service totals $1475 for five years/50,000km.
The driving position is super comfortable, with sports seats that fit larger frames. There’s plenty of leg and headroom in front but rear legroom is tight. The generous boot holds a fullsize alloy spare and seat backs flip forward for larger loads. The cabin is generally quiet but tyre noise escalates rapidly on coarse chip. Controls are well laid out, intuitive and easy to use, and speedo is digital.
Five stars for safety, with a score of 35.01/37 from ANCAP. There are six airbags, reversing camera with guides that follow the steering, plus front and rear distance sensors. Advanced safety features include blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert but it lacks auto emergency braking.
The front-driver goes hard, driving is fun and the manual is easy to use. The SR picks up where Kia’s turbo twins, the discontinued Koup and Proceed GT, left off, though enhanced turbo set-up delivers better throttle response. The new platform brings independent rear suspension, with larger ventilated front discs and a quicker steering rack. It’s a work of love, with strong performance, better turn-in to corners and greater mid-corner grip.
ALTERNATIVES Veloster 1.6 SR Turbo, from $30,650
The funky hatch shares the Elantra’s driveline but effectively is a generation behind, with its less sophisticated rear suspension. Claimed thirst is 6.9L/100km. Warranty is five years/ unlimited kilometres. Service totals $1095 for three years/ 45,000km.
Toyota 86 GT, from $30,790
The good-looking 86 and Subaru BRZ sibling have struck a powerful chord. Outputs are on par (152kW/212Nm) but the twins lack low-down torque and can’t match the SR in a straight line. Toyota claims 8.4L/100km and gives three-year/ 100,000km warranty. Servicing costs $720 for three years/ 60,000km.
Engaging and rewarding with excellent dynamics. The best performer yet from the upwardly mobile Korean brand.