By Emme Hall.
Quirky cars. It’s amazing the kind of opinions a little bit of design flair can create in people. Take for example, today’s comparo: the 2013 Fiat Abarth and the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo. Both take style to a new level, and both have their lovers and their haters. Here at AutoComparison, we don’t hate anything; we just like something else better. Which one of these two distinctive hatches gets our love?
The Abarth offers a 1.4L 4 cylinder multi-air turbo delivering 160 horsepower and 170 lb/ft of torque. A 5 speed manual transmission is the only offering, putting the power to the front wheels. You’ll get from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds (6.7 if you take a 1 foot rollout). EPA fuel ratings are a fantastic 28 in the city and 34 on the highway, 31 mpg combined.
The Veloster Turbo gets a, surprise, turbocharged 1.6-liter 4 cylinder engine, good for 201 hp and 195 lb/ft of torque. A 6 speed manual transmission is standard, although you can get a 6 speed automatic to put the power to the front wheels if that’s your bag. 60 mph in the manual comes in 7.7 seconds and EPA fuel ratings are 24 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined for the manual. The automatic returns 24/31/28.
Don’t look for a ton of standard features on the Fiat Abarth. 16” aluminum wheels, power accessories, air conditioning, steering wheel mounted audio controls, a premium audio system with iPod integration, BLUE&ME hands free communication are about all you’re going to get. 17” wheels, navigation, sunroof and heated seats, are all optional.
If you’re looking for features, the Hyundai Veloster is where it’s at. 18” alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, heated front seats, driver lumbar adjustment, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped wheel and shifter and the Dimension sound system are all standard. Also standard are iPod integration, Bluetooth connectivity, Pandora radio and Hyundai’s BlueLink emergency communications system. You also get outbound text messaging, Facebook location sharing, and if you need to keep a Big Brother eye on your teen, the car will send you an alert if it travels outside a predetermined area. The one package available on the Veloster Turbo is the Ultimate package, adding rear parking sensors, a sunroof, automatic headlights, a backup camera, and a navigation system.
The Fiat Abarth comes with a racing pedigree, and as such is more suited for aggressive driving than the Veloster. The stiff suspension allows you to really attack corners with reckless abandon, utilizing the mega quick steering. A little throttle feathering will get you the rest of the way around the corner, but a mechanical limited slip differential would be useful. Fiat instead uses a brake based differential, whereby the computer applies the brakes to any wheel it senses is slipping. It gets the job done but an LSD would be a great option. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the exhaust note. It is a fantastic sound that definitely adds to your driving enjoyment.
If only we had as good a time in the Veloster. It feels reasonably confident in the corners, but the steering is non-communicative and numb. The ride is pretty stiff, making it difficult to drive on a daily basis and it’s prone to getting a wee bit upset over bumps while turning. The throttle, at least, is very responsive.
The 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo starts at $22,100. Hyundai is so close to the mark with this one, but it just isn’t there yet. We recommend the 2013 Fiat Abarth. With a base price of $22,700, a snappy little engine, excellent mpg, and an exhaust note that lets them know you’ve arrived, it’s definitely the better buy.