If you’re expecting something overtly sporty from the Hyundai Veloster then the thin, reedy voice of the 1.6-litre engine on ignition is likely to prove disappointing. With its soft patter at idle and whirring, hollow buzz at low revs, the engine has an economy vibe about it that threatens to undermine any sense of obliging progress before you’ve even got going.
Fortunately, as the 138bhp four-pot finds more revs, so it locates a more mature, harder-edged voice. It also finds a welcome turn of speed. With 62mph only attainable in 9.7sec at best, the Veloster is not quick, and if you go for the dual-clutch automatic gearbox then the 0-62mph time is an even more lethargic 10.3sec. However, the tug associated with the very end of the throttle’s travel is sufficient to make it feel appreciably less than turgid.
The petrol engine’s plight is certainly aided by a creditable kerb weight. The car tipped our scales at 1235kg, some 90kg less than the equivalent Volkswagen Scirocco, and this relative lack of mass doesn’t unduly handicap the modest 123lb ft of torque delivered at 4850rpm.
Consequently, when not attempting to equal the Veloster’s official sprint time, it feels appropriately spry, in turn making changes on the unremarkable six-speed manual gearbox a choice rather than a continual necessity around town. A tall final ratio means 30mph is unrealistic in sixth, but gains in fuel consumption and refinement are made on the motorway, where the car feels at home. Both the standard car and Sport edition can be specced with the dual-clutch gearbox, which is servicable at best.
The Hyundai Veloster Turbo, which comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, predictably provides a welcome boost in performance. Its 8.4 second 0-62mph time isn't exceptional but it allows the Turbo to feel brisk enough.
Its flat torque curve (the 195lb ft maximum is available between 1500 and 4500rpm) means maintaining quick progress is far easier than in the standard Veloster. However, coarseness in the higher echelons discourages really spirited driving, so it's best to rely on the turbocharged lower rev thrust.