Fly­ing the coupe

Veloster Turbo takes on ri­vals with slick pric­ing, greater prac­ti­cal­ity and im­pres­sive ride

Herald Sun - Motoring - - THE TICK - WITH PAUL GOVER

COUPES can be tough when you have kids.

But not with the Hyundai Veloster, which man­ages to marry good looks and rea­son­able go with a prac­ti­cal back end.

It’s not as quick as a Re­nault Me­gane RS but it’s a lot cheaper. It’s not as sporty as a Toy­ota 86 but it’s more prac­ti­cal.

And it’s not as fast or prac­ti­cal as a Ford Fo­cus ST but it looks a lot bet­ter.

So there is much to con­tem­plate as I slide into the Veloster Turbo man­ual.

Once again I’m struck by the three-door body. It sounds oddball, with an ex­tra door on the pas­sen­ger side, but it’s not as oddball in the me­tal and def­i­nitely not as strange as it seems when you have to live with it.

An up­date ear­lier this year claimed to make the turbo vari­ant more driver friendly, with bet­ter grip and con­trol in the sus­pen­sion, fresh colours and trim bits.

There is noth­ing ex­tra from the en­gine room, al­though the start­ing price for the Veloster Turbo is down to $29,990 as a man­ual thanks to the dele­tion of the sun­roof in the pre­vi­ous model, which just hap­pens to match the show­room start­ing sticker of the Toy­ota 86.

“That’s no co­in­ci­dence,” says Hyundai spokesman Bill Thomas.

For all the tweak­ing and repo­si­tion­ing, there is noth­ing Hyundai can do to make the Turbo more at­trac­tive against the lat­est Mazda MX-5, an iconic con­vert­ible.

But the Veloster is a tidy lit­tle pack­age and, as I run through the early kilo­me­tres, I’m also pon­der­ing the pre­vi­ous twodoors from the South Korean com­pany. There was the aw­ful S-Coupe, based on the orig­i­nal Ex­cel and to­tally dread­ful to drive; the flabby and un­der­done Tiburon was not re­motely sporty.

I’m happy to have the Veloster loaded with my young­ster and his toys in the boot and equally happy that he can get him­self into the back seat with­out fight­ing with re­clin­ers and lim­ited ac­cess and the other coupe com­pro­mises.

The car also drives bet­ter than I re­mem­ber. There is more com­po­sure in the sus­pen­sion, slightly bet­ter grip in cor­ners and less tug­ging on the steer­ing wheel un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Its 150kW out­put is not a lot for a sports coupe. The en­gine is only a 1.6-litre four and I’m

hop­ing there is po­ten­tial for more power in the fu­ture.

The orig­i­nal Veloster felt crashy and short of sus­pen­sion travel but that’s cured thanks to the im­pres­sive work of Hyundai’s lo­cal sus­pen­sion team. Pity they can’t also rem­edy the aw­ful gearshift, which is too long in the throw, vague and notchy.

The Veloster copes eas­ily with a range of driv­ing, from city jaunts to long-legged coun­try runs, with­out mak­ing me feel tired or chal­lenged. It just flows, the best thing I can say about any driver’s car.

I also like the re­freshed gauges and the snap­pier new in­te­rior trim, al­though I can’t see any real dif­fer­ence de­spite the up­date to the nose.

Com­par­ing the Veloster to its coupe ri­vals, I re­alise it is closer to the 86 than it was and a lit­tle more punchy as a turbo. It’s still not a “real” sports car with rear-wheel drive but the en­gine has more shove than the Toy­ota and the rest of the pack­age is well bal­anced.

I def­i­nitely don’t miss the sun­roof but I won­der how the Veloster Turbo would feel with a good twin-clutch gear­box in place of the six-speed man­ual. The ra­tios are well cho­sen but I don’t like fight­ing with the shift.

The seats are comfy and sup­port­ive, the au­dio is fine for the price and I re­ally like the con­ve­nience of that ex­tra back door.

The car is gen­er­ally quiet, with some tyre roar on coar­sechip bi­tu­men, the fuel econ­omy is good and the space-saver spare does not gobble much lug­gage space.

The only real dis­ap­point­ment, apart from the gearshift, is ser­vice in­ter­vals — just 7500km or six months. That’s not re­motely good enough and it’s not as if the car is a highly strung thor­ough­bred that de­mands a lot of at­ten­tion.

So the changes to the Veloster Turbo are rel­a­tively small but def­i­nitely worth­while, par­tic­u­larly with a sub-$30,000 start­ing price and the im­pres­sively tweaked sus­pen­sion.

THE TICK

I al­ways liked the Veloster and now I like it a bit more, which is enough to give it The Tick.

But it needs some ex­tra power.

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