Hyundai shows off its sporty side in Detroit
Turbocharged Veloster, updated Genesis move Korean automaker beyond its practical image.
Hyundai has made its biggest headlines in recent years with the Sonata and Elantra, a pair of practical sedans that provide real competition for established sales leaders in their respective categories. In fact, the Elantra was named Car of the Year here at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
While the company was humbled by the accolades, the practical wasn't its intended focus here in Detroit this year. Instead, it wanted to show off its sportier side.
The big news for the Korean automaker was a turbocharged version of its funky front-drive Veloster hatchback coupe, as well as a midcycle update for its rear-drive Genesis coupe. The Genesis gets its own new turbocharged engine, as well as more power for the V6. Both ask buyers to think of Hyundai as more than just a purveyor of conservative family sedans.
TOP STORIES FROM THE DETROIT AUTO SHOW:
2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
What is it? A sportier, more powerful version of Hyundai's 3-door hatchback coupe.
What's hot? The Veloster Turbo's 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine turns up the power to 201 horses and 195 lb-ft of torque, numbers that best the base Veloster engine by 73 and 72, respectively. Fuel economy is not hurt by the extra punch, as the car will deliver 27 mpg city/38 mpg highway with the available 6-speed manual transmission. Quicker, retuned steering should also make the Veloster sportier. Inside, the Veloster Turbo gets additional equipment, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 450-watt Dimension Premium Audio system and a Supervision cluster with two display screens between the gauges. The Veloster Turbo will also feature Hyundai's new BlueLink telematics system, which pairs with smartphones to provide local point-of-interest Web searches and voice-to-text messaging.
What's not? You either love the Veloster's look or you hate it. The 2013 Veloster Turbo gets some sportier exterior changes that may or not work, depending on your taste. The gaping maw of a grille is bigger, side skirts are added, and the rear bumper gets a different diffuser and a dual exhaust. The Veloster Turbo is also offered with Matte Gray paint, which we think is cool, but you might find gimmicky.
How much and when? Starting at about $20,000. Due this summer.
MSN Autos' verdict: The Veloster Turbo gets some changes we think it needed. The extra power will add much-needed pep, and the retuned steering should add a sportier flair. Hyundai is comparing the Veloster Turbo to the VW GTI and MINI Cooper S. Let's hope it drives as well as those accomplished sport hatches.
2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
What is it? A refreshed and more powerful rear-drive coupe.
What's hot? The Genesis coupe undergoes a substantial midcycle update for 2013. An updated turbocharged 4-cylinder base engine boosts horsepower from 210 to 274, while the available 3.8-liter V6 adds direct injection and increases horsepower from 306 to 348. A new 8-speed automatic transmission aids fuel economy for both engines. On-road manners should be better, as well. Suspension calibrations are changed to deal with the new power ratings, the steering is quicker, and Track and R Spec models now offer strut camber adjustment bolts.
The interior moves a bit upscale, with an electroluminescent gauge cluster, dash-pad stitching and Hyundai's new BlueLink telematics system.
What's not? Sometimes styling changes aren't for the better. The 2013 Genesis coupe takes on Hyundai's corporate face, with a blacked-out trapezoidal grille. Though the look is aggressive, we don't think it's as simple and appealing as the design it replaces.
How much and when? Starting at about $22,000. By the end of the year.
MSN Autos' verdict: The Genesis coupe has needed a more effective turbocharged 4-cylinder since it was introduced, and now it gets just that. With 274 horsepower and lighter weight, it seems like the better choice over the improved V6. Hopefully, the retuned steering and suspension will add a touch more sportiness.
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.