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Hyundai Finally Gets the Veloster Right with R Spec

Since its inception, fans have muttered that the Hyundai Veloster was underpowered without sufficient oomph to match its looks. Even the addition of a turbo had some doubting its sportiness but finally changes with the addition of an R Spec Veloster.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai introduced what is essentially the third variant of the Veloster – and just like in "Goldilocks and the 3 Bears" the Korean automaker finally gets it right.

According to Hyundai, Veloster Turbo R-Spec is the fourth R-Spec model in the lineup, along with Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec, Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec and Genesis 5.0 R-Spec. R-Spec represents the ultimate performance version of each of these models.

The best part may be the price. The R Spec trim level is the lowest in the Veloster turbo lineup at $22,210, including the $810 destination charge. Of course, to cut costs, under the guise of appealing to sporting enthusiasts, the R Spec Veloster won't have: proximity-key entry with push-button start, premium gauge cluster, side-repeater mirrors, driver’s auto-up window, high-gloss interior cues and full-faced heated leather seats. (I'm not sure why you can't race and have heated buns, too.)

For Veloster Turbo R-Spec, sport suspension and steering settings have been retuned for optimum responsiveness, with higher spring rates and a more rigid transmission mount. On the powertrain side, R-Spec is available only with the 6-speed manual transmission, and a short-throw B&M Sport Shifter has been added for a tighter, more direct shift feel.

The B&M Sport Shifter is a nice touch because it used to be available on the Hyundai Tiburon, itself a car that benefited immensely from having a V6 powertrain vs. the standard four-cylinder engine. Why is a sport shifter so important? Because you touch it so frequently while operating the car. A bad shifter makes you feel like the car is worthless regardless of the torque underneath.

On the exterior, R-Spec adds a red-accented front splitter and side blades, with R-Spec badging on the rear hatch. Inside, red leatherette bolsters with red/black cloth insert sport seats complement special embroidered-logo R-Spec floor mats. Veloster Turbo R-Spec will be available in four colors: Elite White, Ultra Black, Marathon Blue, and exclusively for 2014 Veloster, Sprint Gray.

People who like to drive hard will appreciate the Torque Vectoring Control (TVC). This active cornering feature, using capabilities from the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and powertrain control systems, improves dynamic cornering during more enthusiastic driving. I've experienced first hand on a track and it works as advertised.

TVC uses wheel-speed sensors coupled with ESC algorithms to apply precise braking force to the inside front wheel during spirited cornering. This active braking redirects power to the outside front wheel in the turn, reducing wheelspin, for enhanced cornering grip and corner-exit acceleration. As Hyundai claims, "Overall, TVC provides Veloster Turbo R-Spec drivers with an incremental margin of cornering precision during enthusiastic driving."

Don't be fooled by the "incremental margin" statement. The TVC adds lots of cornering precision vs. models not equipped with it.