FIRST DRIVE | 2019 Hyundai Venue is a more affordable alternative
If Hyundai’s spicy marketing campaign is to be believed, you should consider its new Venue ahead of the Volkswagen T-Cross.
The small SUV segment that offers adequate masses of room and seating for four to five for not much cash is where the big sales action is occurring in SA right now as seen with an estimated 2,000 new T-Cross sales registered thus far. Hyundai SA relishes a piece of that action.
There’s a sizeable 350l boot in the back there, which is slightly smaller than the VW’s and the rear seats do flop down in a 60/40 split. The Venue isn’t universally stylish though but it boasts an expressive and assertive road presence created by a larger than life cascading grille and a boxy shape and large headlamps with DRLs.
However, the aesthetic enticement of Hyundai’s smallest SUV, as described by Juhyun Ha, designer at Hyundai Motor, doesn’t necessarily match expectations in size nor what you get inside.
Measuring 2,500mm in wheelbase, the Venue is 1,770mm wide and 1,617mm high but, importantly, it’s only 3,995mm long. The rest of the quoted dimensions are in the ballpark area of its rivals and they are what give Hyundai the gumption to challenge the substantially longer 4,235mm T-Cross. The Ford Ecosport — the kingpin of the segment in terms of audited sales— is even longer at 4,325mm.
But the Venue has an adequately spacious cabin where a 20.3cm bright display screen stars even in the middle-spec Fluid spec which I drove first. From a specification standpoint there’s a heap of standard equipment to be had, from cruise control, park assist with a rear camera, electric window operation for the driver only, Carplay readiness, Bluetooth, 2x USB ports, six airbags, cloth-and-leather seats and much more.
Interior ambience is spoiled by hard plastics with a distinct pong of no-frills adhesives in the mix. Opt for the two-tone dashboard variety and contrast in colour visibly exposes substantial gaps and the cheap texture. A fully dark dash option I found on the top-range Glide model makes a better job of hiding this disappointment.
More importantly, the Venue is targeted for urban usage where owners will benefit from the zippiness of its dimensions to easily steer in and out of situations, plus the expected claimed low fuel consumption averages of 6.5l/100km for models equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox and 6,9l/100km for auto models.
THE VENUE IS HERE TO PANDER TO A LARGELY YOUTHFUL AND URBAN AUDIENCE WHO WANT A GRAPHIC LITTLE RUNAROUND
I can’t say the more expensive model that’s fitted with a seven-speed DCT automatic is the one to go for above its three-pedal cousin. The manual’s clutch and lever are both light enough to use daily and shouldn’t cause leg trouble in congested traffic.
The self-shifter is definitely the one that heightens the experience and operation of the single range three-cylinder 1.0l turbo engine though. It’s a far more relaxed engagement with intuitive, well-timed upshifts that effectively use the narrow power band for a more hushed and refined progression.
Power outputs are modest but competent: 88kW and 172Nm channelled exclusively to the front wheels. Again, not far off VW’s T-Cross which punches out 85kW and a more tractable 200Nm. Hyundai claims 183km/h top speed for the manual and 187km/h for the auto and indeed, it was a fair display of keenness and ability to keep up with highway speeds with sufficient damping for comfort on long journeys.
Twisty roads did expose a little numbness in its steering responsiveness and a bit of suspension disorderliness on uneven surfaces. These are not crucial drawbacks because it has good brakes equipped with ABS and EBD, stability control and fair body roll.
Besides, the Venue is here to pander to a largely youthful and urban audience who want a graphic little runaround with space to fill up with friends, overnight bags, a sound system for karaoke on the move and online connectivity friendliness. It has all of this and more to win it a few fans.
Viewed purely from a size perspective many will likely find this new Hyundai an altogether different proposition that’s more Suzuki Ignis than T-Cross or EcoSport. The latter pair of segment doyens has larger dimensions and better overall refinement in many areas.
The Venue presents a more stylish value package, which fits less lifestyle paraphernalia but saves you 30K over a entry-level Ecosport rival and 60K over an entry-level T-Cross.
Venue 1.0 Motion (manual) — R274,900
Venue 1.0 Motion (DCT) — R304,900
Venue 1.0 Fluid (manual) — R309,900
Venue 1.0 Fluid (DCT) — R339,900
Venue 1.0 Glide (DCT) — R369,900
Included in the prices are a seven-year/200,000km warranty, sewven-year/150,000km roadside assistance and a three-year/45,000km service plan.