When I was a young boy, a wise man once said, "When you have mangoes, you must have them either really green and sour or really yellow and sweet. If you have it in between, what is it really?"
Stefano always claims that when it comes to cars he is willing to spend for, it must give him the ‘fizz’. I cannot entirely say for sure what he means by that, but it almost sounds like he demands an erection from the car. I assume he means that there must be a unique character or a flavor to it. Perhaps, a personality that makes all of the car’s mechanical and computerised components, when meshed together, have the ability to press on the human senses. In hindsight, it does make a lot of sense.
I have no clue why the Volkswagen Golf GTI is oozing with personality and the BMW M135i isn’t. The Bimmer has more power and it’s rear wheel drive. Yet, I’d have the Golf GTI any day of the week. Neither can I give you a straight answer on why I love the Ferrari 458 Speciale, but only deeply admire the McLaren 675 LT. The British car sits on a carbon tub, is faster in every single measurable way, and it will annihilate the Italian in its own private test track. I would, however, prefer to look like a complete buffoon in the red car.
This peculiar situation of fizz isn’t just limited to different brands. Take Nissan for instance. The Juke is the butt of jokes in every topic we have about cars but then they also have the GT-R, a car that makes any supercar’s price tag just the biggest load of crap. It’s the same thing for almost everything else that money can buy. I will not spend an hour setting up a new Windows PC, but I will lose sleep perfecting my settings in a new MacBook Pro.
People will pay a ridiculous amount of money to make a pointless journey in a boat so as long as it is propelled by steam. The same goes for trains. Tell me that we’re having Tinola tonight, and you’ll catch me in a deep slumber before dinner even starts, but tell me that we’re having Sinigang and I’ll love you forever. They’re both soup with meat and vegetables, but they can’t be any more different from each other.
Drive it or play it.
This brings me to the Hyundai Veloster. From a first glance, it looks like a frog. In some strange way, it is the prettiest frog I have ever seen. When matched with a colour that resembles an orange flambé, I can’t really complain about the way it looks. It’s beautiful in a very hipster way. It is an odd car. It has four doors, but not exactly where you’d imagine them to be. It has two in front, one at the rear right side for passengers, and the one more as a tailgate.
The driver’s door is long, suggesting that it wants to be a coupé - but the right side says otherwise. I assume that this is a Korean party trick for those whose wives haven’t allowed them to buy a coupé. The left side is for dad and the right side is for the wife and kids. I can’t imagine how the planning stage for this car went at Hyundai’s headquarters. “Boss, we have a car that can trick the wives at home”. If you have OCD, this car will drive you to the brink of insanity.
"The communication lines between the engine and the transmission seem to be fuzzy. Unless they’re powered by Globe Telecom, we have a problem here."
Nonetheless, the car exists and it’s in my hands at the moment. I cannot really say that this car is neither here nor there, because it also isn’t trying to be anywhere else or anything else. Step inside and a sporty cabin awaits you. The seats are great and so is the seating position. The low and sloping roofline gives a sense of occasion, and everything else after that, is typical Hyundai. From a price point perspective, this is supposed to square off with the likes of a Toyota 86 and a Mazda MX-5.
As early as now, I can tell you that this would appeal to those that want a fun car without the vibe of a ricer. This actually is a more millennial car than it is a rice rocket. It has a sense of humour, which explains why people are drawn to it. It has the space that you cannot find in the Mazda. Besides, I can hardly squeeze myself in the driver's seat of an MX-5. The Toyota 86 offers more space than the Mazda, but it still isn’t as practical as the Veloster. After all, this has a rear passenger door.
Driving this car was the biggest surprise. I wasn’t expecting it to perform at all. I honestly thought it was going to drive like a new age mommy car, but I probably should’ve read the brochure first. I really do like the engine of this car. Perhaps, it is what sets it apart from the two cars I mentioned earlier. This has a smaller displacement at 1.6-liters, a little bit more than your free Pepsi from Domino’s, but unlike the others, this one comes with forced induction. Turbocharging is always the great equalizer and it moves this car quite well. The steering is nicely weighted and it has real sporting manners when it takes on tight corners.
The car feels dialed-in and confidence inspiring. The wide tires keep the car planted and the over balance keeps the fun sustainable. The brakes are decent, but I think I would prefer a bit more bite. I guess the best thing about this is that you can share it with three more people, because there is genuine space for humans at the rear. If driven well, I think that this car can fire out of corners quicker than a Toyota 86, because it offers so much more torque.
"It has character and it seems to celebrate its funky and asymmetrical ethos better than any other new age millennial car out there."
You’d think that if this car were to have an achilles heel, it would be in handling or cornering. That proved to be wrong because I thought it was pretty sensational there. The real problem is lies in its gearbox. I am a fan of the dual clutch transmission when it comes to performance cars like this. I always prefer to either have a dual clutch or a 6-speed manual with a third pedal. I liken having a regular torque converter to going into a war zone with only a pistol at your disposal. What Hyundai gave us is an assault rifle, but it refused to fire properly.
For starters, it didn’t like pottering around town. Even more so, it hated traffic, but who doesn’t? It’s forgivable, because I noticed that most DCTs apart from Porsche’s and Audi’s, are a bit jittery. What I am struggling to forgive is the response time when the road is open and empty. There’s a lot of hesitation from the gearbox, and that removes the sure-footedness of the whole driving experience. Passing cars becomes harder than it should. It is the equivalent of having a full-automatic rifle, but only being able to fire three rounds at a time.
Cool coupé meets smart hatch.
The communication lines between the engine and the transmission seem to be fuzzy. Unless they’re powered by Globe Telecom, we have a problem here. It’s frustrating because overall, I actually quite like this car and I didn’t think I would. It’s just one of those things that you need to experience to understand. It is by no means an easy sell, but it’s charming once you get to spend more time in it.
It has character and it seems to celebrate its funky and asymmetrical ethos better than any other new age millennial car out there. People went out of their way to take photos and it is a car that you can share with the people. There also is a little bit of fizz in the driving experience, so please bring in a car with three pedals, and let’s give it another go. It has all the potential for sweetness, but for now, it isn't a mango.
One car. Two sides.