Huge news for the 2016 model brings an all-new handling tune and available twin-clutch automatic option for the R-Spec, Turbo and Veloster Rally like our test car.
And the changes are SERIOUSLY good! After a week of grins and hooning at full throttle, the Veloster Rally Edition even moves up an entire competitive class in our eyes. From before battling the Ford Fiesta ST or Nissan Juke NISMO, and up to being a credible threat to the VW GTI, Ford Focus ST and even Subaru WRX.
The 2016 Veloster is not perfect in every way, but it finally nails the handling and powertrain fundamentals that are so important for guys and gals who want triple-digit drive entertainment for less than $25k.
Let's get down to the great, the blah and the unbelievable in the 2016 Veloster Rally Edition via two HD drive videos, 100-plus photos and section heads of Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing and Summary.
HD Drive Review Video
The 1200-unit Rally Edition of the 2016 Veloster is classic factory custom -- in the mold of the STi or M3. Don't believe me?
How else to explain the curb appeal and exotic upgrades that make even the carry-over bodywork of the Veloster Rally into a real head-turner on the street. At Cars and Coffee, at least four people came up to touch the matte blue paintwork -- not believing it was real until we looked in the doorjams and under the hood. This is not a wrap, folks!
It is real paintwork -- and despite the Matte description, it is actually more like a satin metallic. There are flecks of bright light in the paint that flips the color from light blue in hard sunlight to a moody indigo in the dark. It is the perfect intro to Rally Edition hotness.
That upgrade also includes an exclusive set of forged Rays alloys in gloss black, special body kit with carbon-look splitter and sills, plus the snazziest LEDs on any Veloster front and rear.
LIGHT IT UP!
Gatling-gun white LEDs form a halo around the low-beam projectors in an ultra-cool way -- flowing up from the white LEDs lining the bottom of the headlights. It is a stellar look for this price: the Fiesta ST is LED-free, while the Juke NISMO has some lighting quirks even in its revised 2015+ form. Around back, the Veloster Rally rocks a cool pair of waterfall red LEDs, pouring their claw-like scratches into individual LED dots as the main brake lights. These look awesome -- and definitely not standard on a $25k pocket rocket? Probably $800 customs shipped from overseas? No sir!
Standard custom cool.
Any quirks or tradeoffs for these awesome lights as standard?
Yes, there are. The actual lighting power on country roads is fairly weak: the halogen main bulbs for the fogs, lows and high-beams are all quite dim and yellow-ish -- especially in contrast to the bright-white LEDs. A fairly easy first step for owners to do an HID conversion for the low-beams and fogs, if desired. Would definitely look cooler -- and light up the road ahead much better in the process.
But here is the big problem with this lighting setup: the DRLs. The Veloster Rally Edition likes to run around town with the highbeams lit to 70-percent strength as the daytime running lights. This means you can barely see the LEDs during the day. You can engage the LEDs manually via the parking-light setting, but it is not the full brightness.
HD Walkaround Video
This troubled us. Soooo cool in so many ways. But highbeam DRLs? No thanks.
We drove most of the time with middle parking-light setting on, despite this dimming LEDs to their night-time setting.
It feels really nit-picky to detail this so much. Basically, the need-to-know: to have just the LED angel eyes/LED horizontal bars lit, you need the parking brake engaged.
The problem with highbeam DRLs being hardwired into all lighting conditions is not just their nasty appearance, but it will be tough to fix as a DIY person. The simplest way to have always-hot Veloster LEDs would be to unplug the highbeam bulbs. But then you do not have highbeams..
The many Veloster forums and fan clubs probably have a fix for this, and Hyundai will too in the future.
As it comes from the factory, though, the Veloster's LEDs are delightful... then disappointing.... Overall, just a B-grade effort in total for the lights. Still best-in-segment, for now, but the new Civic Coupe may throw some shade when it arrives this year as a 2017 model-year -- LEDs blazing.
NBDB is always hot. NBDB is an acronym I just made up to describe the Veloster's visual impact on the road. What's it stand for?
Never been done before!
That is what still rocks about the Veloster's overall design and packaging. A slight Koenigsegg / GT-R / Scirocco coolness radiates from every exterior panel. A bit of Aston Martin One-77 menace is visible in the carved-out bumpers -- making a sharp cheekbone right under the lights.
The NBDB effect? The low roof and asymmetrical doors are mind-blowing for many folks. Two doors on the passenger side, one on the driver's side.
This execution finally makes sense, especially versus the barely-helpful quad doors of the Mazda RX-8. Hyundai nails this design and engineering because it does not drop the B-pillar like Mazda did. That way, the car stays as rigid as ever -- even with extra access room for those getting in on the sidewalk side. There is so little apparent compromise from the hidden third door... that we started to wish it was on both sides. A four-door sports coupe in this shape would suit me perfectly: tossing in backpacks and twelve-packs easier than the current folding-seat coupe action on the pilot side.
In that back seat, legroom and access are actually great for the sports coupe segment. It is bigger than the new Mustang back here, despite your head grazing the tailgate due to that chopped roofline. Whatever. Worth it!
In the wayback is where the Veloster really scores huge points. The trunk is HUGE!
And with the back seats folded down, there is serious wagon-like utility back there. Ginormous indeed, especially with its deep and square shape and low trunk floor. Much larger and more useful than the Fiesta ST or Juke NISMO. Handier and easier to pack than a Focus ST, too, despite a high load lip to get over the back bumper.
The Veloster really nails the drive position and mood. The alloy-faced sport pedals are perfectly placed. Same goes for the upgraded racing stick for this six-speed manual Rally Edition.
The steering wheel also gets the job done around fast corners, but is a dated design overall. The giant inverted triangle for the airbag cover is a bit dated, and a bit cheap, despite the special blue stitching for its perforated leather wrap. We'd love the rake/reach adjustment of the wheel to come farther out, and farther down than it does at present. The seat would be nicer a few inches lower too. They are very supportive sports buckets with Rally-special Blue leather accents and Turbo embroidery on the outer bolsters. Looks cool and sets the mood on throttle!
Other cabin gripes? Some of the cheapest floormats ever felt... despite their special Rally Edition branding. The stereo is thumpin' and connectivity is a piece of cake with Hyundai Bluelink touchscreen audio. But so many switch blanks! For the most loaded Veloster ever, there are too many plastic boxes where features should be. What is missing? Unclear... but we suspect Euro headlight adjustments, moonroof controls (for cars with that option), and perhaps seat heaters? Either way, it is a bummer to be reminded of things you do not have.
Finally, the tailgate with its split upper and lower glass elements is cool and gives great visibility. Too great, perhaps. In traffic with trucks behind you, you get a lot of headlight glare from the upper element. A standard tint for the glass would be nice all around, but especially for this piece. It is just a slight irritant: with light in the corner of your eye and feeling like you are riding on the front bumper of that F-250, etc.
What really impresses in the Veloster after the initial giddiness of its turbo boost whoosh and intake howl sink in? The stellar comfort and long-haul comfort inside the Rally Velo versus its short-geared and very bouncy rivals from Ford and Nismo.
Cabin-wise, we score the Veloster Rally an A-minus.
The Veloster Rally Edition is MUCH more than a cosmetic upgrade. New spring rates, damper tuning, steering and drive settings make this Veloster Rally Edition firmer, tighter and faster than the R-Spec or Veloster Turbo models. This means the Rally V holds on around corners like flypaper. Big contact patches from the bubble-gum-soft KUMHO rubber make the 2016 Veloster nearly understeer-proof.
You really, really have to overcook the Veloster into a corner for its nose to start sliding wide. A slight lift of the throttle tucks the snub chin of the Veloster back in line. Ripping a Scandinavian flick at the same time and you experience the brief weightlessness of a great power slide. Lift-off oversteer -- honed over 10000 hours at the Nurburgring.
The new anti-roll bars of the Rally Edition really deliver near the car's performance limits. Overall, incredibly tactile and sharp performance for the Veloster Rally Edition. A playful feel about the car's dynamics that is dulled or not present on the cheaper engine and trim choices.
Also missing from the base Veloster is all the sonic heaven this car creates. With the windows down around town, the Veloster Rally is a delightful harmony of intake, turbo spool and blow-off valve noises. It makes you happy and encourages harder throttle -- a major achievement for Hyundai versus the nippy puppy-love that is the Fiesta ST.
The Veloster Rally hums down the road like it is hoovered to the tarmac. Its steering is feelsome and meaty, and there is near-zero axle tramp or traction issue launching the car HARD.
Around corners, in a straight line... heck, even in second gear: the Veloster Rally turbo just nails its starts. This is surprising considering the lack of a limited-slip diff in front like the hardest hot hatches. Skipping the LSD makes it all very real-feeling and plugged-in -- without the constantly shifting moods of an LSD tugging with torque steer or bouncy launches. We're looking at you, Juke NISMO RS FWD stickshift..
The Veloster is also geared much taller than the Fiesta ST or hot Juke. It still shoots off the line with urgency -- but does not need a shift at 22-mph like those pocket rockets.
The tradeoffs for this Rally Edition's best-ever performance setup from Hyundai? It now feels like it would manage more power very easily. 201-ponies still work hard and deliver results. But its estimated 6.9-second sprint to 60-mph could be faster. An aftermarket intake, downpipe and ECU tune would make this 1.6-liter, twin-scroll turbo deliver 250 ponies for less than $2k in upgrades. Perhaps as a stage one mod after the first year of smiley hoonage?
Another downside of the Rally Edition's custom suspension is the ride quality on the highway. The Veloster Rally is much firmer than others in the fam -- with sharply audible thunks over expansion joints on the expressway. Highway road and tire rumble is also quite pronounced, but no more so than in the Juke or Fiesta. The Veloster's engine is calm in sixth at 80-mph, but also has torque to chug past traffic without a downshift.
All in all, the drive of the Veloster Rally is a true A grade.
From around $18k for the base Veloster in 2016 with its 132-horsepower engine, the upgraded R-Spec, Rally Edition and Turbo models all make a GREAT case for themselves. Bottom line? Get the turbo engine, somehow. =]
The Rally Edition carries a $24k sticker, which comes in at $24,900 with floormats and delivery included. No availability of the (excellent) new dual-clutch 7-speed automatic in the Rally Edition, but that slick self-shifter is an $1100 option for all other trims and the non-turbo engine too.
At this price, the Rally Edition's custom wheels should cost a grand, the paintwork another $2k and the suspension tweaks at least $500. Hyundai is basically including these goodies for no charge on the very-limited 2016 Rally. A great value overall.
We love this car! The quirks with the LED settings notwithstanding, time spent in the Veloster Rally makes you love driving. In general if you are new, or just re-invigorated for people currently flogging some tired Sentra. The Veloster Rally is the best of its breed: it is as frisky and rambunctious as the Fiesta ST, but as sexy and exclusive on the roads as the Juke NISMO RS.
And with highway manners and front-seat comfort to really rival the Focus ST?
We have a winner, folks!
The 2016 Veloster Rally is available now at Hyundai dealers nationwide.
Go drive it!
2016 Hyundai Veloster RALLY Review
- 201-hp 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder Turbocharged engine
- 6-speed manual transmission with B&M Racing sport shifter
- Upgraded shocks & springs
- Upgraded stabilizer bar
- 7-inch high-resolution LCD touchscreen
- Rearview backup camera
- Sport seats with leather seating surfaces
- 6-way adjustable driver seat
- Driver adjustable lumbar support
- 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
- Steering-wheel-mounted audio, Bluetooth® and cruise controls
- Bluetooth® hands-free phone system
- Blue Link® Telematics System
- 450 watt Dimension® AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 premium audio system with 8 speakers and external amplifier and subwoofer
- Smartphone/USB and auxiliary input jacks
- Electroluminescent Gauge Cluster
- Rally Edition floor mats