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by Rob Beintema, April 22, 2016

Now, for 2016, the new Rally Edition adds to the Turbo lineup, with only 1,200 built for the global market


THE PROS & CONS

    • Whatís Best: The six-speed manual. Returning to the joy of direct control and the personal synchronization of engine power and gear selection. Itís pure bliss on a sunny country road.


    • Whatís Worst: The six-speed manual. On the other hand, the DCT is quicker-shifting than youíll ever be, works better in conjunction with turbo power and will save a lot of frustration in stop-and-go commuting.


    • Whatís Interesting: Journalist tend to dwell on power and performance but Veloster fans, many of them first-car owners, often tend to concentrate more on customizing and personalizing their machines.



Hyundai recently unveiled a new limited-build Veloster Rally Edition with a one-off matte colour, tricked out with suspension tweaks and treated to special packaging with boy-racer styling.

I could make some cute comment about how car companies stagger model variations to keep the brand buzz alive but, frankly, I donít think the Velosterís novelty has worn off yet.

And itís hard not to overuse the word ďuniqueĒ in reference to the Veloster, whether itís about the swoopy, K-tailed styling, the sleek profile or the hunkered-down, almost UFO-like rear view.

Then thereís the three-door architecture with a long driverís-side door and two short passenger-side doors, which sounds offbeat and different but adds a little utility, unexpected in most coupes. It at least allows an easier reach into the second row for grabbing groceries or getting the offspring out of the infant seat.

That combination of, yes, unique configuration and styling earned the Veloster a 2012 AJAC Best Design award after it was introduced to Canada. And, with subsequent additions, the Veloster carries on with a wide variety of flavours and price choices.

The 138 hp normally aspirated Veloster lineup ranges from $18,599 to $24,249 through three trim levels with graduated content levels, flash colours and with a standard manual transmission or DCT automatic ($1,400).

The 201 hp Veloster Turbo, starting at $27,199 offers more power, more standard goodies, the same transmission check boxes and it kicks in with two funky matte colour options Ė Matte Orange or Matte Grey ($1,000). Now, for 2016, the new Rally Edition adds to the Turbo lineup, with only 1,200 built for the global market (probably around 200 or so destined for Canadian dealers).

The Rally Editionís most noticeable feature is its exclusive matte blue finish with diffused reflection qualities that soften the usual play of light along the carís curves, lines and muscular bulges. itís hard not to overuse the word ďuniqueĒ in reference to the Veloster, whether itís about the swoopy, K-tailed styling, the sleek profile or the hunkered-down, almost UFO-like rear view.

Special Rally Edition badging and blacked-out faux carbon fibre aero accents add an edge to the performance look, enhanced further by lightweight RAYS 18-inch alloy wheels that reduce unsprung weight by 2.2 kg (5 lb) per wheel.

A sport suspension features upgrades to the shock absorbers, coil springs and stabilizer bar for quicker response and handling and ride height has dropped by about 10 mm.

Engineers also replaced the panoramic glass sunroof with a lighter, full metal roof. And while itís hard to pin down the total weight loss, some sources have speculated at about a 45 kg (100 lb) overall weight reduction for the Rally Edition.

The Rally Edition comes only in six-speed manual configuration, with gear changes managed through a special B&M racing shifter. The knob is just the right size, the throws are short and sharp and the interplay between clutch and shifter reminds you of just how much fun a well-driven manual tranny can be.

Inside, blue metal paint interior accents and blue-bolstered leather sport seats that are part of the normal Turbo packaging harmonize nicely with the unique blue matte exterior. Embroidered Rally Edition floor mats round out the packaging of this limited-production performance model.

The Rally Edition lists for $27,199, same as the starting price for the Turbo lineup and, with the inclusion of a normally optional paint job, you realize there has to be some give and take on content.

Along with the loss of the panoramic glass sunroof, the Rally Editionís barer-bones performance emphasis deletes the 7.0-inch navigation system, the 110-volt power outlet, the LED side mirror signal repeaters and, strangely enough, the push-button ignition.

The Rally Edition was an enjoyable ride, with sportier handling to enhance its already nimble dimensions. And the turbo-powered 201 hp engine is really the only way to go within the Veloster lineup.

Okay, the acceleration wonít exactly scare you. Hyundai tuned this engine to use wallet-friendly regular octane gas.

But the linear progression of power is really about all a front-wheel-drive sporty car, and notice I didnít say sports car, can handle without getting all sideways and squirrely.

Fuel economy is rated at 9.4/7.0L/100km (city/hwy). My real world result averaged 9.2L/100km (comb), not unexpected considering the driving playfulness that this combination of engine and manual tranny encourages.

All in all, it makes for a nice package, sporty with plenty of attitude and roomy for two with some make-do space in the second row and 440 litres of useable hatchback luggage room.

Iíve tried dusting off the olí crystal ball to divine the Velosterís future but opinion is split between a possible second generation version or a gracious demise, having served its purpose as one of the tools to diversify Hyundaiís corporate image as more than just an econo brand.

But, although the Veloster has been dropped in some global markets, it has made some progress here within its narrow sales segment.

And with a dedicated, almost cult-like following among its young customer base, the Velosterís image can only be bolstered by new versions like the 2016 Rally Edition, offering limited-production collectability, head-turning road presence, real performance tweaks and custom-like styling enhancements for its fans.


Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition at a glance


BODY STYLE: Compact 3-dr coupe/hatchback
DRIVE METHOD: Front engine, front-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 1.6-litre T-GDI twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder (201 hp, 195 lb/ft).
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual (as tested) with B&M racing shifter
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 9.4/7.0L/100km (city/hwy); As tested 9.2L/100km (comb)
CARGO: 440 litres
TOW RATING: Not recommended
PRICE: $27,199 as tested

A Veloster Turbo in Rally Blue - WHEELS.ca