Here we go again: the shit has hit the fan, it’s time got to grab my bugout bag and my cat and evac on the way out of a world gone mad, and I’ve got the keys to…a 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition.
How screwed am I?
Hunchbacked and low to the ground, the Veloster already looks the part of a combat car, especially when sprayed Hyundai’s special matte-finish blue. Hyundai only built 1200 Rally Editions, so this particular Veloster stands out. With other bright colors like Vitamin C and Boston Red on the palette, Velosters tend to stand out, which could be a liability if I’m trying to avoid the notice of raiders. That said, with a few hundred spikes welded to it, the Veloster would look an awful lot like one of the “Buzzard” cars from Mad Max: Fury Road and that’s a point in its favor.
Like the Scion tC, there’s a surprising amount of space inside. If I forego passengers and just make it me and the cat, the rear seats will fold down and leave enough room for a six-footer to just about stretch out inside the car. Seats up, the back seats are usable by full-size humans. Also like the Scion tC, the Veloster is a pretty small vehicle–in fact, it weighs about a Warboy less than the tC.
This week’s car is as quick as Velosters get, since the Rally Edition is based on the Veloster Turbo R-Spec. The Veloster offers reasonable punch in a straight line. It’s powered by a turbocharged 1.6 liter direct-injection four-cylinder that cranks out 201 horsepower. The turbo spools up quickly and the Veloster gets off the line fast. There’s a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions; fortunately, this time I’ve got the responsive manual. The shifter has a bit of an economy-car feel to it, but it’ll do nicely, especially with two hundred horses to handle.
When the road gets twisty, that power is accompanied by the bane of every powerful front-drive car: understeer. It’s got a fairly standard small-car suspension, with MacPherson struts in the front and a torsion beam rear that have been tightened up for the Rally Edition. Pushed, the Veloster’s response is confident and predictable. At least that’s the case on smooth pavement. Pushed hard, it will begin to slip wide as it can’t quite keep up with physics. Here’s a cool trick though; there’s a Torque Vectoring system that uses the stability control system to balance power in the turns, giving the Veloster more grip than expected. That’s good news for me, because it means that this car will zip around corners just a bit faster than it seems like it should. I like my chances. Lightweight 18-inch wheels provide improved grip on the road but feel less confident in the dirt. The Veloster’s much happier on pavement. A hard ride across open ground is likely to shake it to pieces or get it stuck. And if I can’t keep it on the pavement? Well…the Veloster does have a cousin in the WRC. This little three-door coupe just might be more versatile than it looks. That said, first on the post-apoc agenda are taller tires and a sturdier suspension.
But wait, isn’t this the Rally Edition? Okay, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means. The Veloster’s not a forest-chewing rally car, nor is it pretending to be one. The unique wheels reduce unsprung weight (this means faster reflexes), the faux carbon fiber styling accents are there for looks, and unfortunately there are no rally-car parts like skid plates, raised suspension or a roll cage. To be fair, it would be a little ridiculous to expect them, but in extreme situations it’s easy to wish for things you can’t have.
What the Veloster does have going for it inside are a pair of aggressively bolstered seats which make driving fast much easier and a sport shifter that improves shifting feel and is more receptive to hard shifts at speed than the economy car-based standard shifter. The door pulls are painted to match the exterior of the car, and that’s pretty cool too. If I’m quick on my feet, I should remember to toss a PlayStation into the Veloster on my way out of the house as well, because Hyundai includes a 115-volt household outlet and RCA outlets in the Veloster. That’s just as cool as the 450-watt subwoofer-equipped sound system.
Speaking of the exterior, I like the looks of the Veloster but there are gonna have to be some changes. This car is plenty aggressive in stock form, and Hyundai’s thought about what it would look like in a post-apocalyptic environment with the “Veloster Zombie Survival Machine,” which did the tour of the concept-car circuit a couple of years ago. This hunkered-down coupe already looks like a vehicle that’s ready to stand up to the bad guys, but with some strategic armor plates and brush bars, it’s relatively easy to turn it into a miniature wasteland battle tank. Hyundai, have you been reading my mind?