Performance, ride and handling

Since the days of the Swift GTI, hot Swift models are revered for the way they drive and this latest hot Swift is no different. To match its sportier nature, the standard Swift’s competent chassis has been beefed up for the Sport. The specially tuned Monroe shocks feel well damped to support the car’s body and weight in corners while providing a reasonably good ride. There are little lateral body movements in corners and surprisingly high amounts of grip from the tyres. The Swift Sport will cling on really hard in the corners. Its nose will ultimately understeer wide once the limits of adhesion are breached but a lift of the throttle will tighten its cornering line considerably. In fact, the Swift Sport feels like it has a lively rear end that reminds us of past French hot hatches. The steering is wonderfully sharp and makes for a nice, communicative tool to steer the Swift Sport with.

Next to the pesky Swift, the Veloster feels almost too introvert in the way it goes around corners and communicate with its driver. With its underpinnings based on the humble Elantra, the Veloster offers little feel and feedback in its controls while the nose will wash wide even when cornering at moderate speeds. Lift the throttle mid-corner like in the Swift Sport and you’ll hardly encounter a reaction or adjustment in its cornering stance or line. Body control is slightly tighter than in the Swift Sport but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better as the latter’s intricate body movements do give its driver a better feeling and feedback of its cornering stance and limits.

The Swift Sport is not only the more dynamic car of the two here but surprisingly rides better as well. It doesn’t have the choppy ride that is so common on small, sporty cars. Riding on relatively large 18-inch wheels, the Veloster suffers from a slightly more crashy and busier ride in comparison, a characteristic that is most evident at low, crawling speeds where it can send shockwaves up your spine as it crashes over pot holes or sharp humps.

The Swift Sport motor needs to have enough verve to match its exploitable and dynamic handling for it to be a truly fun and rewarding drive. Derived from the unit in the last generation Swift Sport, the M16A unit churns out a sufficient 134bhp at a dizzying 6900rpm, 8 percent more than previously thanks to features like a new variable intake system. 134bhp might not sound like plenty when hot hatches these days come with motors that muster over 200 horses but with a kerb weight of just over 1,000kg, the motor’s modest power output does make for reasonably energetic performance.

The Swift Sport is available with either a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission. We chose the latter model for this test as the Veloster is only available with an automatic. A CVT might not sound overtly sporty to most but the Swift Sport’s does an admirable job of keeping up with the rest of the car’s sporty character – its responses are one of the fastest of any CVTs we’ve driven. A manual mode whereby drivers can select the seven ‘virtual’ gears via steering wheel mounted gear shift paddles is standard – in this mode, the box does a great job of swapping gears like a torque converter auto.

Despite its best efforts though, he Swift’s CVT still lacks the more rewarding feel of the Hyundai’s first ever dual clutch box in the Veloster at the end of the day. The CVT Swift Sport will accelerate to 100km/h from rest in a respectable 8.7 seconds, incidentally a time that is identical to the nearest tenth to the six-speed manual transmission model and more than 1.5 seconds quicker than the Veloster’s 10.3 seconds time here.

The Veloster’s new dual clutch gearbox isn’t lightning quick like those on hardcore sports car applications like the Nissan GTR’s but it definitely responsive to the driver’s throttle inputs. Off the line acceleration and overall shift quality are also smooth and without the jerkiness or lurchy nature of some dual clutch boxes out there. The DCT box comes standard with steering mounted shift paddles as well.

 With 140bhp from its direct injection GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) 1.6-litre ‘Gamma’ powerplant, the Veloster actually has a higher horsepower count than the Swift Sport but the Veloster is a slightly bigger car than the compact Swift here. More crucially, the Veloster is almost 300kg heavier than the Swift Sport , thus making its performance feel less sprightly and lively in comparison. 

When it comes to torque outputs, the GDI lump musters 167Nm at 4850rpm, trumping the Swift unit by a mere 7Nm. The Swift’s motor is a manic little unit. It offers enough torque at low revs but it’ll only truly come alive pass the mid-range. Hurl it all the way to 7000rpm and the engine screams willingly. It makes a rather nice four-cylinder growl at high revs too. The throttle is sharp and responsive to the driver’s inputs and gives the little Swift a lively, energetic feeling. Next to the Swift, the Hyundai’s motor doesn’t feel as eager to  rev. It’s the slightly more tractable of the two at low speeds but the performance feels somewhat flat once the 4500rpm mark is breached. Moreover, the engine’s unwillingness to rev does show in the way it sounds beyond 4500rpm - like the other four pots from Hyundai-Kia, the Veloster’s GDI motor lacks refinement at high revs, the motor sounding gruff and strained as the revs are piled on. Despite Hyundai’s best efforts to lower NVH levels, the Veloster can certainly do with an engine that makes less of an audible din when worked hard upon. Thankfully, the motor is quiet enough if you’re just wafting along at low revs or when cruising.

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Engine Capacity 1591cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 140bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque 167Nm @ 4850rpm
Power to Weight 111.1 bhp per ton


Acceleration 10.3s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 200 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 16.1 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed DCT
Drive Type FF


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(4220 x 1790 x 1339) mm
Wheelbase 2650 mm
Kerb Weight 1260 kg
Boot Capacity 320 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 50 L



Engine Capacity 1586cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 11:1
Bore x Stroke (78 x 83)mm
Power 134bhp @ 6900rpm
Torque 160Nm @ 4400rpm
Power to Weight 123.5 bhp per ton


Acceleration 8.7s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 185 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 14.5 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed CVT
Drive Type FF


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(3890 x 1695 x 1510) mm
Wheelbase 2430 mm
Turning Circle 5.2 metres
Kerb Weight 1085 kg
Boot Capacity 210 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 42 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs