2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo vs. 2013 Scion FR-S Comparison Test

2013 Scion FR-S Coupe

(2.0L 4-cyl. 6-speed Manual)
  • 2013 Scion FR-S and 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Picture

    2013 Scion FR-S and 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Picture

    One's a dedicated rear-driver. The other sends power to the front wheels. | July 27, 2012

91 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • 2013 Scion FR-S Specs and Performance
  • 2013 Hyundai Veloster Specs and Performance

Purists stand firm on the notion that few sports-car truths are more self-evident than the superiority of rear-wheel drive, full stop. This is a dogma that was fully embraced by the creators of the 2013 Scion FR-S to the extent that the car's very model name acronymically trumpets this fact.

And then the front-wheel-drive 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo goes and out-slaloms it. Yep, 68.0 mph to the Scion's 66.8 mph.

But let's take a step back. A more obvious competitor for the Scion FR-S is Hyundai's rear-drive Genesis Coupe. But what's this? The Veloster Turbo we tested costs $25,320 and generates 201 horsepower, stats that read as though lifted from the FR-S window sticker (our FR-S tester stickered at $24,930 and produces 200 hp). Get past the obvious dissimilarities in door count and drive wheels and we have a surprisingly level playing field. So let's see how they stack up in the real world.

Pace Makes the Difference
The Veloster Turbo is relatively lightweight at 2,910 pounds and the suspension is dialed up to a stiffness that's busy but not quite uncomfortable. Unraveling a winding road at what we call momentum pace — a quickish clip that's not so rapid that you have to brake for corners — the Veloster Turbo's responses suggest that promising things await those willing to draw more deeply from its well.

Unfortunately, the Veloster's well is shallow, and its chassis wilts when confronted with a more determined charge through the same canyon. Turn into a bend like you mean it and there's an elastic imprecision between your hands and the road as though there's too much sidewall flex in the Veloster's 215/40 Kumho Solus KH25 tires, or its suspension bushings are too soft. And the steering, though quick immediately off-center, slackens off as you wind on lock and is overboosted. Attempt to power out of a corner on the throttle and the Veloster Turbo does a one-tire fire, as there's no limited-slip differential. And it needs one.

The harder you drive it, the more the Veloster Turbo frustrates. Its modest ultimate grip of 0.83g is not the issue. It's the way it composes itself on imperfect roads. Even around town the rear suspension's sensitivity to bumps is obvious and when it encounters a pavement seam midcorner, the ass end will step out several inches. The chassis also wallows as though underdamped when told to brake hard on lumpy bitumen. No wonder the logbook entries ranged from "it feels unfinished" to "This chassis is a mess."

Purpose-Built
Slide into the little FR-S coupe after wheeling the Veloster and you immediately notice that the Scion's seat is lower slung and more supportive, its structure is noticeably stiffer and the control interfaces move with more mechanical heft. It turns in with far more precision. The FR-S's brakes are firm and the pedal placement makes heel-and-toeing a cinch. While the Veloster's shifter is quick, it feels toylike in comparison to the Scion's more substantial-feeling gearchange. The FR-S's lever is a bit notchy and sometimes balks at downshifts into the 4th gear gate, but on balance it is a pleasure to row.

The Scion's steering is leagues sharper than the Veloster's, and better weighted besides. It tracks more honestly and isn't flustered at all by pockmarked pavement. On the smooth surface of our skid pad it produced a 0.90g orbit, considerably grippier than the Veloster. Braking the FR-S from 60 consumed 118 feet, edging the Veloster yet indicative of rubber that is on the meek end of its summer tire classification.

Yet it is tactility that defines the FR-S. This is a car that is completely at ease when the limits of its 215/45 Michelin Primacy HP tires are being explored, remaining sharp and communicative. It telegraphs clearly how to get the most out of it — ham-handed overdriving will drag the nose wide, yet prudent trail braking and throttle manipulations allow the balance of grip at both ends of the car to be managed. Extracting this balance in the FR-S is just loads of fun. And unlike the Veloster, this is a chassis that can clearly exploit more tire.

The Goods Under the Hood
That's not to say that all is bad in Velosterland. Its 1.6-liter turbocharged engine churns up a flexible torque curve and transitions into boost so seamlessly that you might not guess it's turbocharged. You step on it, and the creamy-smooth mill delivers satisfying hustle all the way through the midrange, tapering off as the 6,750-rpm rev limiter looms. At cruise, the engine note drops to a whisper. Despite channeling 195 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels, torque steer is essentially nonexistent.

In our testing it hit 60 mph in 7.7 seconds (7.4 seconds with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip) and the quarter-mile in 15.6 seconds at 89.1 mph, though its in-gear acceleration is lustier than these numbers suggest. Indeed, the Turbo has the power delivery that the base Veloster should have had in the first place, especially as its EPA fuel economy (26 city/38 highway mpg) still pips that of the Scion (22 city/30 highway mpg). It'll come to a halt from 60 to zero in 126 feet — not bad, but then its tires quickly succumb to hard driving-induced heat.

Our test car was equipped only with the $2,500 Ultimate package which includes useful bits like automatic headlights, a nav system with rearview camera and back-up alerts. It is unfortunate that a headroom-eating, chassis-flimsifying panoramic sunroof is larded into the package's mix as well, but there's no denying that this Veloster Turbo offers a more formidable features list than the relatively spartan FR-S.

The Dangers of Spec Sheets, Part Two
Just as the Veloster's slalom result prompts a "yeah, but," so, too, does the FR-S drag strip performance. The FR-S ran to 60 in 6.6 seconds (6.3 with 1 foot of rollout) — more than a second quicker than the Veloster — and did the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 93.1 mph. It would be easy to attribute this performance chasm to the 176-pound lighter curb weight of the FR-S and call it a day. But in running both of the cars in our test over hill and dale, the difference in their ability to sprint between corners just wasn't that vast.

Torque is the reason. The Veloster has it and, well, the FR-S has a big dip in middle of its torque curve. As such, achieving the FR-S's acceleration numbers above takes a 5,000-rpm, dropped-clutch, tire-spinning launch. This damn-the-torpedoes launch hazes the tires until just before the 1-2 upshift, which keeps the normally aspirated 2.0-liter flat-4 on boil and bypasses its torque hole entirely. Any other type of launch and the FR-S's 0-60 and quarter-mile times suffer dramatically. Conversely, the Veloster has the torque but not the traction — it's effectively got one tire at the wrong end of the car to handle the launch, and this hampers its ability to perform a holeshot, hampering its numbers.

More thrust in the midrange would only enhance the inherent handling attributes of the FR-S's rear-drive layout. As it is, its 151 lb-ft in the 2.0-liter mill is just not enough poke for when you want to, say, intentionally upset the chassis and induce a sustained powerslide on dry pavement. It is a smooth power plant, however, and is totally at home when the tach needle is flirting with the 7,400-rpm rev limiter. It doesn't sound very good — beyond a bit of intake honk at wide-open throttle, this flat-4 is a fairly agricultural noisemaker. Granted, the Veloster whooshes like a yard appliance at full whack, but at least it falls silent while cruising.

All of this is a long way of explaining that despite the numbers, the Hyundai doesn't really cede any straight-line giddy-up to the FR-S when playing cat-and-mouse on our canyon road. The Veloster's midrange-rich brand of shove is more useful in day-to-day driving, too.

Sporty Vs. Sports
We came away from the Veloster Turbo disappointed. It's not a convincing sporting proposition, rather a package that trades heavily on its funky styling and unusual asymmetry. We want to believe that the Veloster Turbo would brighten up substantially with better tires and a limited-slip differential, but more likely the low-rent beam-axle rear suspension is at the root of the Veloster's dynamic shortcomings, and not even the most exotic concoction of carbon, silica and gears will help it.

The Scion FR-S is quickly becoming the default choice when cost and fun are the priorities. By nailing the fundamentals of the package, the Scion has shown that engaging dynamics need not be out of reach of the common man, and in doing so has put other automakers on watch.

The rear-drive dogma is rooted in truth. The Scion FR-S wins our comparison test.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Vehicle
Model year2013
MakeScion
ModelFR-S
Year Make Model2013 Scion FR-S 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Vehicle TypeRWD 2dr 4-passenger Coupe
Base MSRP$24,200
As-tested MSRP$24,930
Assembly locationOta, Gunma Prefecture, Japan
Drivetrain
ConfigurationLongitudinal, front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, port- and direct-injected, flat-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,998/122
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves/cylinder variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)12.5
Redline, indicated (rpm)7,400
Fuel cutoff/rev limiter (rpm)7,400
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)200 @ 7,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)151 @ 6,600
Fuel typePremium unleaded (required)
Transmission typeSix-speed manual
Transmission ratios (x:1)I = 3.626, II = 2.188, III = 1.541, IV = 1.213, V = 1.000, VI = 0.767, R = 3.437
Final-drive ratio (x:1)4.1
Differential(s)Torsen helical limited-slip differential
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, lower control arms, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, rack-and-pinion steering
Steering ratio (x:1)13.12
Tire make and modelMichelin Primacy HP Green X
Tire typeAsymmetrical summer, low rolling resistance
Tire size215/45 R17 87W
Wheel size17-by-7 inches
Wheel materialCast aluminum
Brakes, front11.7-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with 2-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.5-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)2.5
0-45 mph (sec.)4.3
0-60 mph (sec.)6.6
0-75 mph (sec.)9.7
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)14.9 @ 93.1
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)6.3
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.2
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.4
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)7.9
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)11
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)15.7 @ 92.1
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.5
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)29
60-0 mph (ft.)118
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)66.8
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON65.2
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.9
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.89
Sound level @ idle (dB)41.6
@ Full throttle (dB)80.5
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)66.5
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)3,050
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThought I had gotten the best out of the car with typical 3,000-4,000-rpm semi-clutch-intensive launch, but was reminded that it requires an abusive 5,000 rpm clutch-drop to avoid the midrange torque trough we've observed at the track and on the dyno. Cringed and tried it, lowering the 0-60 time by about a half-second, but it seems an awful way to get a test number and it's completely unrealistic to expect drivers to ever do it. Shift to 2nd almost chirps the tires. Shifter is accurate and easy, but I don't care for the lifeless clutch pedal.
Braking commentsConsistent stops from start to finish. Very little fade in feel or distance. Minimal dive, zero wander, dead straight.
Handling comments"Skid pad: With ESC off, there's a good deal of understeer (chattering front tires) right on the limit. Thought I could drive through it and kick the tail out with the throttle -- not quite. I'm guessing on a fresh set of tires that this is a neutral car. With ESC on, it begins to allow the same amount of understeer, but closes throttle shy of howling tires.
Testing Conditions
Test date7/3/2012
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)71.7
Relative humidity (%)28.8
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)20.06
Wind (mph, direction)1.8, head
Odometer (mi.)586
Fuel used for test91-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)35/35
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)22 city/30 highway/25 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)24.3
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)13.2
Driving range (mi.)396
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo description300-watt Pioneer AM/FM/CD/HD
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard
Satellite radioOptional
Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)Not available
Rear seat video and entertainmentNot available
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard
Navigation systemOptional turn-by-turn routing, 5.8-inch display screen (measured diagonally)
Telematics (OnStar, etc.)Not available
Smart entry/StartOptional
Parking aidsOptional back-up camera
Blind-spot detectionNot available
Adaptive cruise controlNot available
Lane-departure monitoringNot available
Collision warning/avoidanceNot available
Night VisionNot available
Driver coaching displayNot available
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)2,734
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)55.6/44.4
Length (in.)166.7
Width (in.)69.9
Height (in.)50.6
Wheelbase (in.)101.2
Track, front (in.)59.8
Track, rear (in.)60.6
Turning circle (ft.)35.4
Legroom, front (in.)41.9
Legroom, rear (in.)29.9
Headroom, front (in.)37.1
Headroom, rear (in.)35.0
Shoulder room, front (in.)54.5
Shoulder room, rear (in.)51.7
Seating capacity4
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance2 years/25,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenance2 years/25,000 miles
Vehicle
Model year2013
MakeHyundai
ModelVeloster
Year Make Model2013 Hyundai Veloster 3dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Vehicle TypeFWD 4-passenger 3dr + hatchback
Base MSRP$21,950
Options on test vehicleUltimate Package ($2,500 -- includes panoramic sunroof, back-up alerts, automatic headlights, navigation system with back-up camera, 115-volt outlet)
As-tested MSRP$25,320
Assembly locationUlsan, South Korea
North American parts content (%)1
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine typeTurbocharged, direct-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,591/97
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)9.5
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,750
Fuel cutoff/rev limiter (rpm)6,750
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)201 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)195 @ 1,750
Fuel type87-octane achieves rated power, 91-octane for best performance
Transmission typeSix-speed manual
Transmission ratios (x:1)I = 3.615; II = 1.962; III = 1.294; IV = 0.976; V = 0.778; VI = 0.633
Final-drive ratio (x:1)4.467
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, twin-tube dampers, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearSemi-independent twist beam-axle, coil springs, monotube dampers, integrated stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional, rack-and-pinion steering
Steering ratio (x:1)13.9
Tire make and modelKumho Solus KH25
Tire typeAll-season
Tire size215/40R18 85V
Wheel size18-by-7.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialCast aluminum
Brakes, front11.8-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear10.3-inch one-piece solid cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.0
0-45 mph (sec.)4.9
0-60 mph (sec.)7.7
0-75 mph (sec.)11.1
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.6 @ 89.1
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.4
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.2
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.9
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)8.9
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)12.3
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)16.4 @ 87.6
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.6
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31
60-0 mph (ft.)126
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)68.0
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON64.3
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.83
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.79
Sound level @ idle (dB)39.1
@ Full throttle (dB)74.4
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)66.1
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,600
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsLikes a generous amount of wheelspin, but is easy to do too much. Shifter has medium long throws, but I never missed a gate. Easy to accidentally hit the soft rev-limiter almost without knowing it. There's some sort of electronic upshift nanny here to soften the driveline shock, so the turbo surge feels more apparent that it should. First run has highest trap speed, but it didn't have a huge heat soak problem, as the trap speeds were more or less consistent.
Braking commentsFirst stop was the shortest, then linear distance-creep fade thereafter. They're good brakes, but not quite excellent brakes.
Handling commentsSkid pad: With ESC off, it eases into gentle, predictable, terminal understeer. Steering weight is appropriate and tells me something about what the tires are doing. Slalom: Good initial steering response, but something dulls it thereafter. Suspension or sidewall wind-up maybe? What I would call a "pointy" car. With ESC off, the car is initially neutral and wants to be chucked past each cone. There's a slight off-on throttle dance here, but lunging for the last cone at wide-open throttle is not possible because it spins the unweighted wheel. This car needs an LSD. Without one, the slalom is more of an exercise in momentum. The Sport-ESC snubbed understeer with fairly heavy-handed individual brake application as well as throttle closure. Effective, but obviously conservative settings.
Testing Conditions
Test date7/3/2012
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)77.1
Relative humidity (%)50.69
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.67
Wind (mph, direction)4.1
Odometer (mi.)1426
Fuel used for test91-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)32/32
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)26 city/38 highway
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)13.2
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo description450-watt premium audio system with eight speakers, including a subwoofer
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard iPod/USB via USB jack, aux jack, RCA input, Bluetooth audio
Satellite radioStandard SirusXM
Rear seat video and entertainmentNot available
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard, with voice recognition
Navigation systemOptional
Telematics (OnStar, etc.)Standard BlueLink
Smart entry/StartStandard proximity key entry and push-button start
Parking aidsOptional rear parking sonar and back-up camera
Blind-spot detectionNot available
Adaptive cruise controlNot available
Lane-departure monitoringNot available
Collision warning/avoidanceNot available
Night VisionNot available
Driver coaching displayStandard
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)2,800-2,917 with manual transmission, option dependent
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)2,910
Length (in.)167.3
Width (in.)71.1
Height (in.)55.1
Wheelbase (in.)104.3
Track, front (in.)61.3
Track, rear (in.)61.8
Turning circle (ft.)34.1
Legroom, front (in.)43.9
Legroom, rear (in.)31.7
Headroom, front (in.)39.0
Headroom, rear (in.)35.3
Shoulder room, front (in.)55.6
Shoulder room, rear (in.)54.0
Seating capacity4
Trunk volume (cu-ft)15.5
Max cargo volume behind 1st row (cu-ft)34.7
Ground clearance (in.)5.6
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain10 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion7 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance5 years/Unlimited miles

Comments

  • stillgood stillgood Posts:

    I recently test drove a Veloster Turbo, and was not impressed. I was shopping for a daily driver (with a hope for some performance), but after driving the Veloster, I open to save the $9,00 and bought an Accent. The price tag on the FR-S was more than I wanted to spend, and to be honest, if you're really looking for performance, a used EVO or STI will go alot faster for the same money. I, for one, would challenge the adage that RWD is what makes a sports car. All Wheel Drive cars are VERY frequently faster around a road course, and always faster (hp for hp) on the uneven pavement of the street.

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