Semi-hot hatched at birth

Quick Spin: Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Love ’em or hate ’em, Hyundai is making some serious waves in the automotive industry. With a new design language pervading the lineup and cars that compete in just about every segment (Hyundai pickup truck, anyone?), Hyundai is seeing monumental growth. Last year, the Korean automaker came out with the radically styled Veloster; now they’ve followed up with a more powerful, more coveted Veloster Turbo ($21,950+). The three-doored, squat-stanced, matte-painted hatchback makes its presence known with upgraded interior, whale shark maw and a 201-hp, twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. After giving you a preview a few months back, we finally got to take a Quick Spin in Hyundai’s new offering.

Hear and see more after the jump.

Additional contribution by Amos Kwon

That gaping grill. Those 18-inch wheels. That matte grey paint. If you expect the Veloster Turbo to perform like it looks, you might be disappointed. If, however, you base your expectations on price, you will be quite surprised. Starting at $21K, plus the “Ultimate Package” (o.k., get it out of your system, middle school boys) including a backup camera, panoramic sunroof and a nav, a little extra for the matte paint as well as the optional Blue Link (Hyundai’s version of GM’s successful OnStar) and our tester moved to $27K. Sure, advancing from the 138-hp vanilla version to the well-endowed 201-hp twin-scroll turbo wrings a little more from the wallet — but every drop is justified.

It has plenty of power to boost off the line, the turbo engaging from almost a standstill; plus the Hyundai engineers have managed to tame the unruly folly of front-wheel-drive turbos: torque steer. That power on top of the short wheel base makes it fun to throw around turns. On paper, this zippy Korean machine should be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Mini Cooper, GTI and Civic SI for a few grand less. However, the overall ride is choppy and the indecisive stiffness seems to be too strong on the highway and not quite strong enough on the back roads.

The interior is extremely user friendly — for value, Hyundai leads the way here — with Bluetooth audio, multiple charge ports, aux inputs, a 115V connector and lots of cubbies and console space. We tested the back seat height by auditioning models and elementary school kids and found 5’7″ to be the magic height. The driver had better be under 6’1″ or plan on riding dirty with the seat reclined deeply.

Overall, there are better performers in the field than the Veloster, but none that stand out with the same dash and vigor. If you are looking for something with a little Gangnam style going on, the price is right for the Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

Buy Now: $21,950+