Australia’s favourite coupe gets just enough extra go
A turbocharged engine adds the missing ingredient to Australia’s favourite coupe, the Hyundai Veloster
EXTRA puff has put the punch into the good-looking Hyundai Veloster. The arrival of a turbocharged engine adds the missing ingredient to a car that set a new style direction for baby coupes earlier this year.
The Veloster SR Turbo is still not a road rocket in the style of a SubaruWRXor Mitsubishi Evo but it has enough go to complete the show. It’s priced from an affordable $31,990 and is a sweet package that makes any driving better than just a chore.
It’s a realistic alternative for people who don’t want the hard edge, and 18-month waiting list, of the Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ.
More than 350 Australians have driven away in a shiny new Veloster each month since local sales began. Hyundai is forecasting an extra 150 Turbo deliveries.
The price obviously helps. Hyundai set a new standard when it introduced the basic 1.6-litre Veloster from $23,990 and the Veloster+ from $28,990. The walk-up to the SR Turbo is now a logical progression. Add $2000 for an auto and $1000 for the trendy matt grey (Young Gun or Petrol) paint choices.
It’s a nice price for a good deal, since $31,990 buys everything you really need in a car that’s more about looks than all-out performance. Hyundai also has confirmed details of its new capped-price service program, including three years of free map updates for its satnav. It’s an obvious sweetener but also provides the essential ‘‘ permission to buy’’ that people need in a showroom.
The Turbo package comes with a panoramic sunroof in addition to predictable stuff including a seven-inch touch screen with satnav, leatherleatherette seat trim, rear parking camera, cruise control, alloys, Bluetooth with streaming and automatic aircon.
Hyundai puts the Veloster turbo against the Mini Cooper S, priced from about $43,000, and the Citroen DS3 from $26,990, but there are any number of potential rivals up to the stove-hot Renault Megane RS and the good-looking new Opel Astra GTC coupe.
The go-faster Veloster is all about the engine but there are other changes.
Starting under the bonnet, the 1.6-litre four picks up direct fuel injection, a twin-scroll turbo and intercooler to boost outputs to 150kW/256Nm. That’s 46 per cent more power and 60 per cent more torque than the regular Veloster.
Fuel economy remains 6.8L/100km. There is still a sixspeed manual gearbox but the extra pulling power means the twin-clutch manu-matic gearbox from the basic Veloster is dropped in favour of a more durable— if less sporty— conventional six-speed auto.
The basic suspension stays the same, apart from different damper rates. The steering is quicker and the front brakes
WELL, it’s what you want.
About 18,000 of you bought a new compact SUV in July. Precious few are other than urban shopping vehicles— USVs as we hereabouts call them— yet they satisfy the undemanding.
Essentially heightened hatchbacks (an increasingly large percentage are solely front-wheel drive) with that all-important elevated driving position, they are weepingly dull to drive— none more than the Mitsubishi ASX from which Peugeot derives its 4008 and, now, Citroen its C4 Aircross.
The price seems a bit steep, with the front-driver kicking off at $31,990 and the one with on-demandAWD$2K more. The donor car starts under $26K (with a great warranty) and the 4008 under $29K. But there’s a bit more standard kit in the newest faux-Frog.
Less certain is whether the sticker will long remain. PSA, owner of both Pug and Citroen, is rationalising its international distribution so it’s likely the latter is leaving its current importer. Where that takes Citroen and what it means remain to be seen.
It is what it is— an ASX in a classier suit. Citroen’s latest C4 hatch is lumpen-looking and all too generic compared with its distinctively sleek predecessor yet the same body language translates well in the slightly bigger Aircross. The offspring seated in the rear get plenty of room and light. The chances of catching vomit on the back of your head are thus reduced. The interior, all dark plastic and cloth, looks and feels distinctly below the Citroen norm.
It looks as if you’re stepping into an auto (and effectively you are) though a CVT has no set number of gear ratios.
Instead it can constantly change the relationship of engine speed to car speed.
There’s no reassuring transmission shift, just atonal moaning as it builds up revs under acceleration. No cogs then, rather a pair of variablediameter pulleys, shaped like a pair of opposing cones, with a chain connecting, One pulley is connected to the engine (input shaft), the other to the drive wheels (output shaft).
It’s very much the driverly equivalent of being massaged while wearing Kevlar. The CVT is devoid of sensation but to mitigate there are manual override paddles. In any mode, it’s not at its happiest partnering so anodyne an engine as the donor 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol. As with the 4008, there’s no auto to be had with any available diesel engine.
The top model gets AWD, which can be engaged via a dial or locked in.
Five crash safety stars, as it needs to be, in a segment where this has become the norm.
PSA has a some beaut small-capacity engines, petrol and diesel. This isn’t one of them. It’s a Mitsubishi engine that also drives a common or garden Lancer. This is but one respect in which the Aircross is an unconvincing badge engineering gambit.
The French brand is making some of its best cars in all too long— the cracking DS3 and DS4 plus the ever-worthy C4 Picasso and C5— yet this is nothing but a Clayton’s Citroen.
If you can get past the horrible noise the Aircross makes trying to get its 1460kg, plus you, from zero to freeway speed, it’s hard to ignore the glacial rate (10.6 seconds) it takes to do so. No one’s getting into this for performance, but mid-range response is also some way from useful.
The ride, from memory, is better resolved than the ASX but dynamics are equally dopey. At 3.3 turns lock to lock and with a 10.5m turning circle, you should probably be grateful that the steering is so overassisted.
Wholly adequate but Citroen’s most marketrelevant vehicle is its least impressive. Look at Skoda’s Yeti or Mazda’s CX-5.
Go-faster: The Turbo is no road rocket but still is fun
Elevated idea: The Aircross is a taller hatch, built on a dull, shared platform