With their unique and bold styling as well as loud color options, here are two cars that certainly aren’t for everyone. Both the Scion tC and Hyundai Veloster Turbo are, however, more accommodating than you might think thanks to excellent fuel economy, functional cargo space and attractive pricing. They’re not exactly 'Hot Hatches' but are definitely sportier than the average, which is why at AutoGuide.com we’ve pinned them ‘Luke Warm Hatches.’
FAST FACTS: Hyundai Veloster Turbo
|1. The Veloster Turbo uses a turbocharged 1.6L engine good for 201 hp and 195 lbs-ft of torque.
2. Starting at $22,100, the Veloster Turbo includes 18-inch alloy wheels, round chrome-tipped dual exhaust, and front fog lights
3. The Veloster Turbo is also the first Hyundai available with a matte paint job.
Despite not being outright performance machines, both of these cars turn heads with ease.
With its alien styling and third door, Hyundai's Veloster Turbo stands out by showcasing a few key details that hint at the power under the hood. Two massive centrally mounted tailpipes and an air-swallowing front grille make the Veloster Turbo look more imposing than its natural-breathing counterpart. Massive 18-inch wheels also help to add a bit of flair to the Veloster, making it obviously different from the standard college-kid base model.
Much like the Veloster our Scion tC isn’t run of the mill either, being a special edition Release Series model. Included in the upgrade are a bevy of Toyota Racing Division (TRD) parts and a body kit by California tuner shop Five Axis.
FAST FACTS: Scion tC RS 8.0
|1. The Scion tC RS 8.0 uses a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that makes 180-hp and 173 lbs-ft of torque.
2. The Release Series model features a Five Axis body kit with TRD exhaust, a rear spoiler, paddle shifters on the automatic transmission, TRD lowering springs and gloss black 18-inch alloy wheels.
3. The tC starts at 19,480, while Release Series models retail at 21,815.
Like the Veloster, the tC is stand-out stylish, thanks in part to the impressive “Absolutely Red” paint. Like the Veloster, the tC sports a centrally mounted exhaust and aggressive 18-inch wheels. Some black accents on the front pillars and side-view mirrors, plus its more coupe-like styling give it an overall brawnier look than the Hyundai.
On looks alone, it’s hard to give the nod one-way or the other. Both cars have edgy styling though we should point out that since the Scion tC is a special edition model, it is only available in red while the Veloster Turbo can be had in a range of colors including a special Matte Grey. Overall, the tC has a more classic sports car look and wears it well, while the Veloster is funky and futuristic. Both rides cover the spectrum of personalities that compact-sport car buyers would be looking for.
Despite their small size and sporty looks, the Veloster and tC are quite spacious inside. The Veloster immediately gets huge points for its easy access third door for rear-seat passengers, though even with the unique door, the backseats are cramped with little head and leg-room for six-footers. In the two-door tC RS, rear seating is considerably more spacious with ample head room. While zipping around town in our tester, passengers in the rear-seat barely complained. In fact, most mentioned how much space there is.
As for cargo space, it’s key when it comes to hatchbacks and both vehicles deliver impressive capacity equipped with 60/40 spilt folding seats for great grocery getting or equipment hauling. Again, the tC’s longer length helps in this area but the Veloster's design affords a more traditional hatchback storage style for better volume. Overall cargo space is very similar with both car boasting just under 35 cubic feet of volume with the back-seats down.
Like the exterior styling, both cars exhibit vastly different ways of engaging the driver and passengers. In Scion's tC RS, the design is inspired by performance with a strong sense of connectivity between the driver and vehicle due in part to the dash and center stack being angled toward the person behind the wheel. However, the tC seems outdated with its three dial HVAC setup and hard plastic interior. The Veloster looks much more modern and features a selection of materials that are, simply put, ahead of the tC.
The two cars also feature drastically different seating. The tC has a sportier look with red stitching that contrasts well with black cloth fabric. The bolstering on the seats is slightly aggressive, easily pairing a sporty feel with fashionable looks.
The Veloster Turbo's seats vary slightly to the base Veloster yet don't have enough caché to stand out like those fitted within the Scion. Still, the Hyundai features leather-trimmed coverings with white stitching that looks and feel more luxurious than expected.
As lukewarm hatchbacks with edgy names and looks to match, buyers would expect that these cars should feature a sporty edge. And luckily they both do. While somewhat tepid to the performance crowd, both deliver a hightened sense of driving enjoyment beyond your every day commuter car.
The Veloster Turbo’s method of amusing the driver is tied with its turbocharger which brings the power up to 201 horsepower, putting it ahead of the tC by 21 ponies. Power output is enough to vault the car into true hot-hatch territory, but when compared against segment rivals like the VW GTI, Ford Focus ST and Mazdaspeed3, it would get eaten alive.
Despite both being front-wheel drive, each car performs and feels quite different on the road. The Veloster can’t hide its modest economy car roots. The suspension is soft though when pushed beyond its comfort zone becomes jittery and limiting.
The opposite situation is true in the Scion tC, which has a wonderful steering feel when driven aggressively, as well as a firm suspension setup thanks in part to the TRD shocks on the RS model.[vs-comparsion-table]
Unfortunately, the tC's power doesn’t match up. It’s slower, and not just because its engine can only muster 180 hp; it’s bigger too. The weight difference can reach up to 300-pounds depending on how the two cars are configured with options.
An advantage to that extra weight is that it helps the tC feel more connected with the road, giving the driver a sense of confidence and that’s key in defining a sporty car.
The Scion tC also gets the noise for the beefier exhaust note, which burbles and barks better than many other setups fitted to four-cylinder engines. The Veloster Turbo has a great sounding exhaust as well, which is a bit more sedate, and friendlier for everyday driving.
With a higher level of performance than the average econobox, fuel economy is still high, making both cars commuter ready, even for those on a budget. The EPA rates the Hyundai compact at 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, However, the manual transmission option gets better fuel numbers on the highway at 35 mpg. Combined, the Veloster Turbo nets 28 mpg. The Scion tC isn’t far off at 23/31 city/highway and 26 mpg combined, even though it has a much bigger engine. During our testing the Veloster Turbo delivered better fuel economy at 26 mpg overall, but the tC kept up at 25 mpg.
Overall value is the leading benchmark for most consumers and like in a sprint to 60 mph the tC just can’t catch up. At $21,815, the most affordable tC RS 8.0 is still more than the Veloster Turbo. For those not interested in any of the extras in the Release Series models, the tC is just $18,480. However, the Release Series tC does denote an air of exclusivity that just might be worth it to the right buyer, with only 2,000 units outfitted with stylish extras. Still, the tC doesn’t have Veloster accoutrements like heated leather seats, navigation or fog lights. While the touchscreen stereo works well and sounds excellent, it's not enough to vault the Scion ahead of the Hyundai.
When outfitted with the $2,500 Ultimate Package, the Veloster Turbo overwhelms with extras like a panoramic sunroof, backup camera and sensors, automatic headlights and a useful 115-volt outlet. While this add-on does bump up the price of the Veloster Turbo, it’s nice to have the option, whereas the special edition tC doesn’t have any additional items to choose from.
Donned with tuning upgrades and elite styling, these cars certainly are hotter than the average hatchback and still provide both excellent practicality and affordability. For shoppers looking for a sportier ride, the latest Release Series version of the Scion tC is right on the money. However, it cannot be ignored that the Hyundai Veloster Turbo ticks all the better value boxes by being fun to drive, fast, affordable and cool looking, all while maintaining the traditional hatchback creedo of being useful in everyday life.