Hyundai's new Veloster now has the attitude to match its sporty looks thanks to the addition of a turbocharger to its 1.6-litre engine.
The funky little coupe, which was first launched here in February, was already proving to be a sales winner for the Korean car maker - attracting nearly double the number of customers initially forecast. While the addition of a turbo model may not have propelled it to the top of the hot-hatch chart in terms of performance, it has remedied the one criticism levelled at the car - a lack of power.
The SR Turbo is nearly 50 per cent more powerful with 60 per cent more torque than the standard model. It also has a sportier suspension set-up, meatier steering and bigger brake package. And it gets a more aggressive look with re-styled front and rear bumper, additional side skirts, unique alloy wheels and a bigger rear spoiler.
Priced from $31,990 for the six-speed manual (the auto transmission adds another $2000 to the price), the Veloster SR Turbo is also one of the best-priced, and best equipped, performance hatches on the market.
Hyundai also revealed it would offer a three-year capped-price service program, including three years of free map updates for its satellite navigation system, with all new passenger cars.
This is on top of the five-year warranty and seven years roadside assist it already offers under its i-Care program.
The SR Turbo is based on the top spec'd Veloster plus so comes with a host of standard features like satellite navigation, rear-view parking camera and sensors, cruise control, a premium audio system with Bluetooth compatibility, electric driver's seat, climate control, auto headlights, daytime running lights and push-button start.
But the real story of this car sits under the bonnet where you will find Hyundai's new Gamma 1.6-litre four-cylinder twin-scroll intercooled direct-injection engine.
It is a power plant that generates 150kW and 265 Newton metres of torque, 47kW and 99Nm more than its naturally aspirated counterpart, and propels the small coupe from 0-100km/h in just under seven seconds.
Despite the extra power and technology, the engine runs on standard unleaded fuel, which gives it another price advantage over its competitors. They all need more expensive premium unleaded petrol.
It also has a very good official fuel consumption of 6.8L/100km for the manual and 7.6L/100km for the auto (compared to 6.4L/100km for the standard manual and DSG models) though on a very spirited test drive through the Gold Coast hinterland at the national launch earlier this week our fuel consumption figure was closer to 10.0L/100km in the manual and 11.0/100km in the auto.
Despite the heavy fuel usage, it was hard not to be impressed by its performance and handling.
The Veloster SR turbo is a fun-to-drive small car with the 1.6-litre engine delivering punchy acceleration and good mid-range urge.
While the six-speed auto (it replaces the DSG in the standard model) is a competent transmission and will be the pick of most buyers, for me, the slick-shifting short-throw manual was the match with the engine. It was quicker, more fuel efficient and cost less.
The strong engine performance is complemented by the local tuning team's work in making further changes to the damping and steering of the already well-sorted standard Veloster.
The result is a car that is generally well composed with good body control and superb steering, probably the best of any Hyundai I have driven.
The ride quality is on the firm side and on rougher surfaces it can bounce at times but in most circumstances it is comfortable and compliant.
In a very short time the Veloster has become a car that is helping to change the image of the Hyundai brand, especially among younger female buyers. The addition of the turbo model is only going to broaden the appeal of the small coupe and the Korean car maker.