BOWMANVILLE, ON — The eyes may be the window to the soul, but in the automotive world it’s the doors that hold more sway. For example, if you’re piloting a two-door these days, then you’re either riding around in a sports car or in a pretend sports car.

Are three doors more your speed? You, friend, have chosen a hatchback, which can reside on a sliding scale of hotness from blistering to downright run-of-the-mill. But what of the cars that aren’t quite so easy to classify? What of those odd, motorized ducks with asymmetrical doors and indefinable purposes? Take, for example, the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

Ostensibly, this is a sport coupe, a hatchback with all the qualities familiar to hatchback owners whose cars possess three or five points of entry. Except the decidedly non sedan-like Veloster has four such points, including an extra passenger-side door to be used for clambering into the back seat.

Those familiar with the Mazda RX-8, the Honda Element or the (cast your mind back) Saturn Ion will know what I’m talking about — it’s an engineered element designed to increase convenience while sacrificing, well, symmetry. To some observers, the extra door is a bit of a gimmick; to others, it’s a design abomination.

The Veloster is an even more interesting case because, in terms of unusual design, the extra door could well be the least controversial aspect of the car’s overall look. Just check out the angles in the accompanying pictures — extreme. This theme continues on the inside where the Veloster presents its occupants with a dizzying array of buttons, switches and controls.

veloster_gallery.jpgThe combination of the radical exterior design and the busy interior layout leads to an unassailable conclusion: The Hyundai has youth market written all over it.

Now, despite the fact that I might be an “oldster” in the very eyes of this same target market, I have great appreciation for vehicles that are aimed squarely at providing cheap fun — consarnit, I practically invented the term “bang-to-buck ratio.” Without question, the Veloster plays the value card to the hilt and, in many ways, it’s a successful execution — but there are also some caveats to report.

The drive event took place at the Mosport Driver Development Track (DDT), a race and training facility just outside the gates of the larger, faster and far more dangerous Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (née Mosport). If your objective is to thrash cars around until they beg for mechanical mercy, you could do far worse than the DDT.

On this day, without question, cars were thrashed — and not just the Veloster Turbo. There were also two versions of another poster child for cheap fun, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, on hand for good measure. The day went something like this: Street drives of the Veloster Turbo around the countryside, seemingly endless sprints with this same car in an autocross competition set up on a skid pad and seemingly endless laps of the track in the Genesis.

The harsh truth of the situation is this: If the Genesis hadn’t been on hand, my impressions of the Veloster Turbo would’ve been more favourable. But as it was, the slightly less expensive Veloster ($26K) came across as being a far less well-engineered attempt at a sport coupe compared to the Genesis, which starts at just $500 more.

Here’s the rundown: Whereas the Genesis Coupe possesses many of the qualities true driving aficionados appreciate — direct steering, a precise shifter, well-placed pedals and a nicely weighted clutch — the Veloster Turbo has none of these attributes. Scratch that: The steering is reasonable. But the clutch is far too light and while shift from one gear to the next, the revs plummet and the net result is a little engine that could not, really.

This leads to the other aspect of the car that simply doesn’t match up to its edgy styling: It’s just not that quick. The 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder engine from the base Veloster is aided and abetted by a twin-scroll turbocharger and the numbers seem in line with the direct competition: 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Still, these numbers are only good enough to produce a 0-100 km/h time in the low 8-second range, which is a few ticks off being truly noteworthy for a truly desirable hot hatch.

Last year, I took the non-turbocharged Veloster (base price: $19,500) for a test drive and my impressions were that it was slow and overrated. This year, there was plenty of anticipation that the turbocharged version would provide a lot more excitement, but the engineers simply didn’t push the edge of the envelope enough. In the final analysis, I like cheap fun as much as the next cheapskate — but the Veloster Turbo isn’t the car I’d choose to go along for the ride.

Related >> See more pics | AJAC Car of the Year Winners

3 Comments | Add a Comment

0-100km/h in low 8sec are you on ICE? Are you afraid to press the pedal all the way down? I own a 6MT US VT and can pull 0-60MPH in less than 7.0sec all day long. Even on the cruddy stock tires it came with.. try taking off traction control and drop at 2.5k. Cheerz!

Harsh words for someone who would rather have a Porsche! It's got a goddam 1.6 litre motor for heaven sake! A fun ride at a great price and it looks mad!
If I want a race car i purchase a Porsche.The Veloster Turbo is great for every day driving andis a fun car , well equipped and just right to stay within the posted speed limits.Cheep fun lands you in the morgue.
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