The Road Ahead : June 2013
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 46 THE ROAD AHEAD JUN/JUL 2013 on price, the Hyundai offers best warranty and cheapest capped price servicing and insurance premium, backed up by second-best residual (40 percent) and second-lowest ADR combined fuel consumption of 6.8 litres/100km on 91 RON unleaded (an average of 8.5 on test). The smallest in width, length and height translates into the tightest overall on interior and cargo space, particularly in the rear. This is offset, at least partially, by Veloster being purely a four-seater. And while it might lack the ease of access and egress of its five- door rivals, having a door on the rear left is handier than you might think. The driver's 'work station' is relatively comfortable and functional, thanks to front sports seats with powered adjustment and lumbar. All controls and switchgear are easy to access and understand and, for those that like the feel of wind in their hair, there's a powered, sliding sunroof. As the most powerful (150kW @ 6000rpm) and torquey (265Nm @ 1750-4500rpm) -- yet lightest (1265kg) -- on test, we are a bit puzzled why the Hyundai was bettered fractionally by the Alfa over our standing acceleration tests. While the former felt quicker, our Datron recording system's numbers said different. However, put the right foot down in third gear, power on, and the SR uses its ample torque to good use in posting markedly best in-gear acceleration times (from 50-80 and 60-100km/h). Somewhat enigmatically, it rides more like a Euro sports car than the Alfa and Astra on anything other than smooth hot mix. Read that as too firm. And tyre rumble on coarse chip is intrusive. There's good grip, enabling Veloster to corner flat, fast and hard, but it's less responsive to change of direction than the Alfa. The steering is well- weighted, if a little artificial in feel, and for stopping performance, there's little between it and Giulietta. OPEL ASTRA SPORT The Opel's Manufacturer's List Price (MLP) is $1500 dearer than the Hyundai, but when optioned with FlexRide adaptive chassis control system ($2000), 19" wheels ($1000), premium forward lighting pack ($2000) and premium paint ($695) -- as tested -- then that grows to a substantial $39,185. At 43 percent residual, Astra Sport can claim the least depreciation, and benefits from capped price servicing ($299 a time). An ADR combined cycle fuel figure of 7.0 litres/100km is fractionally the thirstiest, though on test the Opel matched Veloster's average of 8.5. The Opel feels solid, well-built and engineered, though the dash is comparatively busy with too many buttons and switches. By our measurements, it's best on front leg and rear headroom and has the longest and highest boot. Rear MOTORING | ROAD TEST leg room, though, is limited for other than children. There's plenty of powered adjustment to the front sports leather seats -- six-way for the driver and two-way for passenger -- plus lumbar support. The fronts also boast heating and cushion extenders. The Opel has less outright power (132kW @ 5500rpm) and torque (230Nm @ 2200rpm) than the Hyundai, carries more weight (1435kg) than the Alfa, and is a little more sedate than both when driven enthusiastically, but our acceleration tests show it can -- and does -- keep the other two honest. While not as sharp a tool as Giulietta, Astra is a competent handler, with no hint of histrionics when taken beyond its comfort zone. In many ways, it feels the most 'grown up' of all three cars. Astra shines when it comes to braking performance, proving comprehensively best on test in pulling up in an average of 21.4 metres from 80km/h -- more than two metres shorter than its rivals. No doubt the optional wheel and tyre package (235/40R19) helped, just as it might have assisted those impressive cornering thresholds. Ride comfort, despite these bigger 'boots', is a standout, but here also it's uncertain how much of a difference the optional FlexRide makes. Similar to the Hyundai, the steering feels as if it could do with providing more information on what the front wheels are doing.