When it debuted in 2012, the Hyundai Veloster represented a whole new persona for the Korean automaker. With quirky looks, it screamed “look at me” in an affordable way, while the spunky turbocharged version gave the vehicle some much-needed muscle.
Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: six-speed manual transmission.
Fuel Economy: 25 MPG city, 35 MPG Highway. Combined 28 MPG
But that muscle didn’t really translate into street cred with the enthusiasts in the same way that the Ford Fiesta ST resonated with them. In comparison, the Veloster wasn’t fast or hard-core enough: It was heavy, its handling was sloppy and it just didn’t engage you in the same way. For 2016, the Korean automaker has introduced the Rally Edition, a model that stands out in the Veloster lineup, and stands out for reasons those enthusiasts might appreciate.
Black And Blue All Over
The Veloster holds the distinct designation of being the first car from Hyundai to be offered with a factory matte paint job and continues that trend with an exclusive shade of blue for the Rally Edition model. Undoubtedly eye-catching, the flat finish helps hide dust and dirt but comes with some extra work: you can’t run it through automated car washes. Owners will receive a special cleaning kit from Hyundai to help them take care of their car’s cosmetics.
The flat-blue look is accented by some really slick carbon-fiber-style side skirts and 18-inch RAYS wheels. While the Veloster never needed additional styling bits to get extra attention, it’s important to know that the wheels aren’t just for show. Each one weighs five pounds less than the standard wheels found on the Veloster Turbo, helping to reduce unsprung weight.
Reducing weight isn’t just important to improve fuel efficiency, but it’s useful when it comes to handling, too, and the Veloster Rally Edition certainly has improved driving dynamics. With thicker sway bars, stiffer springs and firmed up dampers, this special edition model is more engaging to drive than Velosters of the past. Of course, the improved steering feel and B&M Short-throw shifter also help to make this special edition model feel like the enthusiast-friendly compact-hatchback that we all wanted Hyundai to make from the start.
Considering the Veloster Turbo wasn’t always the most exciting car to drive, these small improvements are very noticeable. It’s stiffer, but not uncomfortably so. It also seems like the Veloster Rally Edition sees some improvements in steering to helping to make the Veloster more responsive. Unlike past Velosters, that had very weak on center feel, the new one has much improved tactility and is nicely weighted.
Only available with a six-speed manual, the Rally Edition weighs in at 2,877 lbs, which is still about 145 lbs more than the Fiesta ST. While the throws of the six-speed are short and notchy, the clutch is a bit too light and vague, which is sure to leave enthusiasts hoping for more.
The Veloster Turbo Rally Edition doesn’t receive much attention under the hood. The 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder still makes 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, making it no more powerful than other Veloster Turbos. While peak twist comes relatively early at just 1,750 rpm, the Veloster Turbo never feels super thrilling or exceedingly fast. Best described as adequately powered, you may find yourself reaching for fourth gear when making a pass on the highway. The power delivery is fairly smooth, but the Veloster Turbo doesn’t feel as raw as the Fiesta ST.
Fortunately, Hyundai has paid more attention to the little details in its quirky compact than Ford did in its Fiesta. The interior of the Veloster Turbo Rally Edition is especially unique, with accents that reflect the fancy flat blue paint job. The stitching, door handles, grab handles and even parts of the leather seats are all bright blue while the headrests and seat bolsters feature “Turbo” embroidered on them. The floor mats also say “Rally Edition,” helping to make this car stand out to passengers as well.
To make the interior as loud as the exterior, the Rally Edition features a 450 watt dimension sound system with eight speakers. The Rally Edition comes with a handy rear-view camera, but lacks the navigation system and panoramic sunroof that’s available on other Veloster Turbos. Clearly catering to the enthusiast crowd, the Rally Edition takes the “simple is better” approach.
I also quite like the design of the center stack, which is laid out in a V-shape. The ergonomics are also top notch, with the shifter being well placed for quick shifting. This is in contrast to the low placement of the shifter in the Fiesta ST, which makes it a bit annoying to shift.
With three doors to make getting into the back seats easier, the truth is the Veloster Turbo isn’t especially spacious back there. Watching a passenger shimmy over to the seat behind the driver is also a graceless sight. With 35.3 inches of rear headroom and 31.7 inches of rear legroom, the Veloster offers much less headroom, but half an inch more legroom than the Fiesta ST. Cargo space is a generous 15.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up, which is more than the 10.1 cubic feet offered in the Fiesta ST. That expands to a generous 34.7 cubic feet in the Veloster with the seats down.
Pricing for the Veloster Turbo Rally Edition hasn’t been announced yet, but expect it to be extremely competitive with the Fiesta ST. Fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined, which is a tick worse than the Fiesta ST’s 29 mpg. After a week of testing, we saw 25 mpg.
The Verdict: 2016 Hyundai Veloster Rally Edition Review
I’m surprised to say that the Rally Edition is actually a solid car. It’s more fun to drive than other Velosters and the unique touches make it really stand out. Only 1,200 will be available and each one sports exclusive features that aren’t found in any other car in the lineup. It may not be downright smile-inducing like the Fiesta ST, but the Veloster has always exuded more style than other subcompacts. It now has some extra moves (handling) to back up its look.