The Hyundai Venue joins that crossover segment that is bursting at the seams as more and more players enter the segment. It’s good news if you’re Hyundai, a brand that is used to playing in the popular SUV space and used to launching variations within the space, read Kona, Tucson and Sante Fe.
The Venue is the smallest of the lot, and by my calculations should become the top seller in the range of higher-riding Hyundai products. Its design is catchy, but can look ungainly and odd on base models. This 2-tone spec however in a Denim colour with white contrast is on the good side, a bit cutesy in its appeal. Where the KIA Seltos makes use of a lot more black for what is becoming the traditional black treatment panels, the Venue is more classic in its design and it therefore comes across as more differentiated enough to warrant a look, lest the badge not be convincing enough. The diamond-cut wheels have distinct alloy-black finishes that complete a charming little package. I bet you noticed the 'Limited Edition' on the model name? Hyundai is only importing 500 units like this, and it's the reason the price stands at just shy of R400 000 compared to the other derivatives in the line-up. Is it all worth it though?
The dual-colour theme in a denim-look continues into the cabin. It’s well thought out and feels roomy with good visibility around the cabin. The cabin grows on you – at first it appeared quite dull and unexciting, devoid of the popping colours that we’ve become accustomed to from a number of its competition, but actually, as you live with it, the Venue feels more and more honest and mature. If the word ‘mature’ scares you, try calm rather than colourful.
It still has a youthful appeal though, made so by its clean design and technological features. The bulk of these are incorporated into the Infotainment system, an 8-inch touchscreen system. It’s large, clear and easy to navigate, docking well with a USB cable-to-phone to unlock Android Auto or Apple CarPlay functionality or with Bluetooth connectivity.
Climate Control is standard in this Fluid spec and with steering mounted controls for cruise control and the system functions, it’s a highly competent and generously specified vehicle.
Boot space is quoted at 350-litres but I have to say, it feels far less by my eye and by my experience with the car. They may have sacrificed some boot space for legroom in the rear which is surprisingly good as is headroom. In fact the whole cabin feels airy and light, and this is what contributes to both the good space for occupants but also for visibility. My only gripe is a big one - the use of a flimsy single belt in the middle of the rear seat. As a family of growing kids, that belt was a sore disappointment, especially with a car that boasts driver, passenger and side curtain airbags among other safety features(ISOFIX included). One of the criticisms of other derivatives is the fact that the rear seat folds down in one single unit, but this edition does feature a 60:40 seat which is much more flexible.
The use of a 3-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine is no longer big news especially within this segment. The 1.0TGDI motor offers up 88kW and 172Nm of torque through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s a beautiful little motor and that 88kW is ample enough for the everyday haul. I found the engine easy to drive and apart from an obvious turbo-lag before it perks up, it’s a real joy to drive. 3-pots are generally quite loud and they sound like a bit cluckety at times and this is no different especially as you floor the throttle and ask it to give its all. The Venue is best left at a respectable, unrushed cruise.
Being FWD, the Hyundai Venue is prone to understeer when you push on into a turn or when the surface is void of grip. This is all expected. What was less obvious was its top heavy behaviour rolling on its body weight less confidently than I’d expected. This is perhaps also added to by a very light steering wheel which is good in the slower tasks but less confidence-inspiring at higher speeds. Of course, the Venue isn’t necessarily being asked to deliver record-breaking slaloms.
I happened to achieve a better fuel consumption figure than the figures quoted in the official Hyundai material. Hyundai quotes a 6,9l/100km on the Combined cycle. I achieved what I expected to achieve which was 6,2l/100km and it certainly can do a better job of it too. I had to double-check with Hyundai SA website just to be sure.
There are 9 derivatives from which to choose in the Venue line-up. Each of them offer the same 1.0-litre engine and the differences are in specification and aesthetics. The Venue is a solid proposition from Hyundai. What else were you expecting? This is a game into which Hyundai is well versed so you know you’re going to get a good car.
Are there other options out there worth considering? Absolutely! It’s a growing segment after all and from Renault to KIA, Suzuki to Toyota and VW, there are options, some of which are more expensive and some of which are cheaper. The Hyundai strong points are a strong warranty offer as well as a 3yr/45 000km service plan.
The Hyundai Venue has entered a strong segment with a strong product. It ticks the boxes in terms of generous specification, good build quality and a well marketed warranty that is unmatched. Would I opt for the Limited Edition? At the price, I can vouch for its coolness and charm but you’d get a pleasant enough experience from the other derivatives too and save around R30k. At this price, you're getting very close to the next range or segment - larger cars, more capability, more engine options etc. I wouldn't do it. Stick with the Fluid DCT version and save the money.