2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo review review: Hyundai boosts the Veloster's performance

six-speed manual shifter
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I normally enjoy manual transmissions, but the Veloster Turbo's shifter was a huge pain. Josh Miller/CNET

On the bright side, once you get the turbo spinning and the gears engaged the Veloster is a joy to drive, delivering great power from its 1.6-liter engine and delivering up to 26 mpg in the city, 38 on the highway, and 30 combined mpg according to the EPA's estimates. My testing yielded a trip computer recorded 26.9 mpg at the end of the week, which included a day of back-road carving, a good deal of highway cruising, and just a bit of cursing at first gear during city driving.

A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is available on the Veloster Turbo for those who don't know what to do with a clutch pedal, but this unit is not the same dual-clutch model that is available on the non-Turbo Veloster.

The tech
The cabin technology available in the Veloster Turbo is identical to what you get in the non-Turbo Veloster trim levels, only with more features listed as standard.

For starters, the 450-watt Dimension premium audio system is standard, so every Veloster that wears the Turbo badge is packing eight speakers including a subwoofer and an external amplifier. Audio quality is pretty darn good for a vehicle in the Veloster's price range, offering very full bass with no rattling from body panels or noticeable harshness of the sound. Digital signal processing (DSP) software creates virtual surround sound that expands two-channel audio inputs, and automatic volume control boosts the output as vehicle speed (and road noise) increases.

Oppa Gangnam Style!
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Every Veloster Turbo should come with a USB key preloaded with Korean pop star PSY's song "Gangnam Style"! Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The Veloster Turbo's dashboard is always home to a 7-inch color touch screen, even if you don't spec the optional turn-by-turn navigation software. If you do get nav, you'll also get a 90-day trial of SiriusXM NavTraffic which is reasonably good if your commute tends to stick to major highways and arteries, but had a bad habit of leading me directly into surface-road traffic jams in San Francisco. (To be fair, my testing occurred on what many would consider to be one of the worst weekends for traffic this year.)

The navigation system's maps now feature a three-quarter view in addition to the top-down 2D view that most Hyundai systems have been restricted to. I also like that the destination input menus don't lock the driver out while the vehicle is in motion -- although I'm sure many anti-distraction advocates will scream bloody murder.

Audio sources that feed into the system include a single-slot CD player, AM/FM terrestrial radio, USB and iPod connectivity, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free calling, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a 3.5mm analog auxiliary input, and an RCA analog audio and video input. As part of an optional package, our Veloster also featured a 115-volt AC power outlet in the center console, which allowed me to plug in my Xbox 360 video game consoles to play games on the 7-inch display when parked. Sweet.

Navigation system
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The Hyundai's navigation software finally gets upgraded with 3D maps. Josh Miller/CNET

Like many Hyundai models that have come before it, the Veloster features an excellent, if not simple, voice command system that can handle destinations and addresses for navigation input and contact dialing for hands-free calling.

The non-Turbo Veloster was the first Hyundai model to offer the automaker's Blue Link telematics system as a standard feature, so it's no surprise to see the system here on the Turbo. You can read all about it in the full review of the 2012 Hyundai Veloster.

The price
As tested, our 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo stickered at $26,520. That included the $21,950 base price for the turbocharged model, $95 for carpeted floor mats, $1,200 for 215-width Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires to wrap around the standard 18-inch wheels, and $2,500 for the Ultimate Package.

The Ultimate Package includes a Panoramic sunroof that essentially occupies the entire roof of the vehicle, audible rear proximity sensors, the navigation system with rearview camera, automatic headlights, and the 115V A/C outlet.

The $26,520 that Hyundai is asking is just a bit pricey, in my opinion. It's not that the Veloster Turbo isn't a good car on its own, but it faces some stiff competition. You could buy a fully loaded Honda Civic Si and have money left over for modifications, a reasonably well-equipped Scion FR-S, or even a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec for that price and that's just the tip of the iceberg. If I'm looking to go as fast as possible for about $27K, there are so many better options. To be fair, the Veloster out-geeks nearly every car on that list with its higher level of cabin tech, offers more flexibility with its proper hatchback, and out-weirds all of them with its asymmetrical design. The quirky hatchback has character and that, for some drivers, may be more important than performance bragging rights.

Tech specs
Model 2013 Hyundai Veloster
Trim Turbo
Power train 1.6-liter GDI with twin-scroll turbocharger, 6-speed manual transmission, FWD
EPA fuel economy 26 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, 30 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy 26.7 mpg
Navigation Optional with SiriusXM NavTraffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard with voice command
Disc player Single-slot CD
MP3 player support Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB connection, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod connection, RCA audio/video input
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Audio system 450-watt Dimension system, 8 speakers with powered subwoofer and external amplifier
Driver aids Optional rear proximity alert, rearview camera
Base price $21,950
Price as tested $26,520

What you'll pay

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