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It’s spacious and characterful but the Hyundai Venue faces some stern cross-examination from its established rivals...

Quite a few eyebrows have been cocked by those taking in the sizeable Venue badge adorning the tail of Hyundai’s latest crossover, no doubt associating the word with a place where events are held rather than a funky little car. Delving into the proper derivation of the word reveals it’s a legal term: the jurisdiction where a trial would take place. While the Venue may not be culpable in anything malicious, its arrival has landed it in the dock of the South African market to be rigorously scrutinised by a jury of gifted competitors in an already burgeoning segment. It faces a tough jury and will need to plead its case for a slice of the lucrative small-crossover segment. Will the Venue be vindicated, or will the verdict be harsh?

Slotting in below the Kona and Creta, the Indian-built Venue is the latest addition to Hyundai’s already comprehensive crossover stable and looks to lock horns with the likes of the Volkswagen T-Cross as well as a broad cross-section of the local automotive demographic that includes the entry-level Jeep Renegade, Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster. It’s likely to also pop up on the radars of buyers in the market for a small hatchback.

The Venue’s 3 995 mm frame is noticeably shorter than most of its rivals and shows virtually nothing in the way of overlap when parked next to most small hatchbacks. This compact form is the by-product of legislation that sees cars measuring under the four-metre mark benefiting from tax concessions in the Indian market. And while such incentives are sadly absent here, the Venue’s resultant packaging makes it a viable option across a larger buyers’ demographic than many segment-equivalent models.

Despite its proportions, the Venue still cuts a distinctive figure. The chunky, pseudo-SUV bodywork, crowned with a purposeful-looking set of roof rails and playing host to such features as that egg-crate grille flanked by a stacked headlamp/daytime-running light array, is a pleasing departure from its curvier stablemates.

By contrast, the cabin, with its predominantly black trim, is far more conservative. The ergonomics are a little hit and miss. The facia is neat and simple; ancillary controls are easily legible and logically sited; and the seats are comfy and supportive (although their raised position, compounded by a lack of reach adjustment on the steering, make it difficult for taller folks to find a comfortable driving position). Perceived quality lags slightly behind the competition. Hard, lightweight plastics aren’t quite on par with those in the VW (itself not exactly a shining example) and Citroën C3 Aircross. Even so, everything feels well screwed together and the 7 000 km covered by our test unit – including some dirt roads – failed to unearth any trim rattles.

But while its finishes may appear somewhat sombre, the cabin is surprisingly spacious. Headroom in excess of 850 mm, fore and aft, combine with a generous glasshouse that lends the interior a pleasing airiness. The 647 mm of rear kneeroom also means even the longer limbed will see some daylight between their kneecaps and the front seatbacks. It may lack the sliding rear-bench modularity of its rivals but the boot still manages to accommodate a respectable 272 litres of ISO measuring blocks with the rear seats in place, swelling to a cavernous 904 litres with the (oddly single-piece) seatback stowed flat.

At best, the marriage of small-capacity petrol engine and automatic transmission is a rocky relationship, yet the Venue’s turbocharged 1,0-litre three-pot is a solid performer. With 88 kW on tap, it’s one of the more powerful units in its class and revs willingly. By and large, it melds well with Hyundai’s in-house dual-clutch transmission, swapping gears smoothly and responding quickly to overtaking throttle inputs.

The only criticisms that can be levelled at the Venue’s powerplant are its rather coarse tone under acceleration and some noticeable turbo lag off the mark that occasionally blunts its urban nippiness. This is possibly the upshot of its somewhat modest 172 N.m peak torque output. Enthusiastic as they are, Hyundai-Kia powerplants are not always the most frugal and Hyundai’s claimed (although real-world tested) consumption figure of 6,90 L/100 km is merely reasonable. Our mixed-use fuel consumption testing told a different story, with the little turbocharged unit gleaning a far more respectable 5,70 L/100 km.

Where many cars built for the Indian market have a tendency to favour a softer, long-travel suspension calibration that’s conducive to badly potholed roads on the subcontinent, the Venue’s ride caught us off-guard. It does possess generous market-associated ride height (195 mm) but it’s quite stiffly sprung, possibly in an attempt to rein in the handling characteristics of a car with a short wheelbase and high centre of gravity. This is something of a mixed blessing. Driven with vigour, the Venue is a surprisingly composed little car. The steering, although light, is reasonably responsive and the front wheels start relinquishing their grasp on the tarmac only when pushed into a corner. However, Venues are not likely to regularly encounter this sort of driving. Driven more sedately, rippled road surfaces induce some choppiness. While it won’t render it unliveable, it is a little disappointing for a car that’s going to spend much of its time round town.

In terms of standard specification, the Venue in Fluid trim ticks most of the right boxes, with features such as 16-inch alloy rims, touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, cruise control, auto lights and rear parking sensors with camera among the items that distinguish it from the comparatively spartan Motion models. There are some odd omissions, though. The centre rear seat (which, as we mentioned, does not have a split backrest; only the flagship Glide offers this feature) makes do with a lap belt, which is a bit peculiar when the Fluid’s safety feature array includes six airbags, Isofix child-seat anchorage points, ABS with EBD and a stability control system.
CAPE TOWN, Western Cape – Think Hyundai Automotive South Africa has already plugged every conceivable crossover-shaped hole in its extensive line-up? Well, think again. There’s apparently a smidgen of space at the very foot of the range and the box-fresh Venue has elbowed its way onto local dealership floors to fill it.

Not that it needs much room. Measuring a mere 3 995 mm nose to tail (and thus qualifying for India’s all-important sub-four-metre class, which attracts a lower excise duty), the SA-spec Venue is a substantial 330 mm shorter than Ford’s EcoSport and some 240 mm more compact than Volkswagen’s new T-Cross. A rummage around the segment reveals only the Mahindra XUV300 (likewise imported from India) is similar in size to Hyundai’s tiniest crossover.

Each of the five derivatives in the local Venue range is powered by the same turbocharged 1,0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine available in the Kona. The entry-level Motion and mid-tier Fluid trim levels are offered in conjunction with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the range-topping Glide variant evaluated here ships exclusively in self-shifting guise.

It’s a lovely little engine, directing its 88 kW to the front axle with a pleasing mix of verve and sophistication. While the Chennai-built crossover’s peak twisting force of 172 N.m doesn’t look particularly impressive on paper, the fact it’s spread liberally from 1 500 to 4 000 r/min means the Venue (which tips the scales at about 1 100 kg) feels genuinely punchy. Although the smooth-shifting dual-clutch gearbox goes about its business with little fuss (and is ideal for those who commute in heavy traffic), it’s the manual cog-swapper that allows the driver to make the most of this refined turbo-triple’s sprightliness.

And comfort levels? Well, it’s often tricky to develop a balanced ride when working with a short (in this case 2 500 mm) wheelbase but Hyundai’s engineers have done a fair job with the new Venue. It’s slightly on the firm side but that’s mitigated somewhat by 195 mm of ground clearance and fairly high-profile rubber (215/60 R16 items on this range-topping model). The secondary ride, though, isn’t quite as polished over corrugated surfaces, while the steering feels a touch slow around centre.

But such foibles are unlikely to concern buyers who do the vast majority of their driving in bustling city centres. Here, the diminutive Venue excels, with its upright stance offering a commanding view of the road ahead. The driving position is suitably lofty, even with the height-adjustable perch (something the entry-level derivatives do without) dropped to its lowest position, but frustratingly the steering column offers tilt adjustment only.

You’d think the Venue’s truncated body would result in a decidedly pokey cabin but the Korean automaker has been very smart with its packaging. Making the most of its boxy proportions, the Venue offers surprisingly generous headroom all round, while the luggage compartment can swallow a claimed 350 litres. Legroom at the back is sufficient for passengers of average height, although the pint-sized pavement-hopper’s rising hipline and chunky C-pillars render the rear quarters slightly less inviting for those of a claustrophobic disposition. It’s also worth noting the centrally sited rear passenger has to make do with a lap belt rather than an inertia-reel item.

While you don’t have to look far to find hard plastics in the cabin, partial-leather upholstery and a leather-trimmed steering wheel (both bearing neat white stitching) along with an eight-inch touchscreen (boasting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality) lend the mid- and high-spec variants added tactile appeal. Fit and finish, too, are impressive.

So, what sort of cash are we looking at here? Well, with the base Motion derivatives stripped of various items (such as the aforementioned touchscreen, rear parking sensors, cruise control, alloy wheels and roof rails) and settling for two airbags rather than the six employed by the rest of the range, pricing starts at a competitive R274 900. The best value, though, is to be found in the middle of the line-up, where the well-specified Fluid variants are priced at R309 900 and R339 900 (manual and automatic, respectively).

The flagship Glide derivative, meanwhile, comes in at R369 900, resulting in a small overlap with the Creta. But it’s perhaps the Korean firm’s i20 hatchback that will be most affected by the arrival of the Venue as buyers continue their migration towards crossovers.

Hyundai’s most impressive achievement with the Venue is the fact it doesn’t feel at all hamstrung by its compact dimensions. Indeed, from behind the wheel it comes across as far larger than it is, allowing it to go toe-to-toe with its slightly bigger rivals. And while the gap at the bottom of Hyundai’s crossover range was by no means considerable, I suspect the Venue’s sales figures in its first few months on the market will prove it was one very much worth filling.
2020 Hyundai Venue 1.0T Fluid Automatic

Full Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Cloth upholstery: partial cloth + leather
  • Leather upholstery: partial cloth + leather
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 6
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Approach home safe lighting time delay park headlights: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front + rear
  • Central locking: remote
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Camera for park distance control: rear
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 652 km
  • Driven wheels: front
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: 7
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automated dual-clutch
  • Transmission name: DCT
  • Front tyres: 215/65 R16
  • Reartyres: 215/65 R16
  • Spare wheel size full: steel 195/65 R15
  • Length: 3995 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1770 mm
  • Height: 1617 mm
  • Wheel base: 2500 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 195 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 10.2 m
  • Approach angle: 21.3
  • Break over ramp angle: 19.2
  • Departure angle: 32.0
  • Load volume / capacity: 350 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1110 kg
  • Load carrying capacity / payload: 560
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1670 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 750
  • Towing capacity - braked: 800
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 45l
  • Fuel consumption average: 6.9 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 148g/km
  • Emission control phase Euro EU level: Euro 2
  • Power maximum: 88 kW
  • Power maximum total: 88 kW
  • Power peak revs: 6000 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 79.3 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 172 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1500-4000 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 175 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 158 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 11.5s
  • Maximum top speed: 187 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 998 cc
  • Engine size: 1.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 1.0T
  • Engine + detail: 1.0 turbo
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i3
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 5 vehicle / 7 drivetrain
  • Warranty distance (km): 150000 vehicle / 200000 drivetrain km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 3
  • Service plan time (distance): 45000 km
  • Roadside assistance time: 7
  • Service interval (distance): 15000 km
  • Brand: Hyundai
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 26528180
  • MMintrodat: 2019-10-25
  • Introdate: 2019-11-14
  • DuoportarecordID: HyunVenu1e4

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