There’s a lot to dislike about 2020, but new Hyundai Venue isn’t on the list
This youthful, edgy ride is set to be a serious rival to the Volkswagen T-Cross
Like it or not, we're stuck with a lot of vexing things in this modern world of ours. Things like Twitter. What started off as a novel way to stay up to date with the news has degenerated into a communal soapbox where people who really shouldn't be allowed to share their opinions, share their opinions. I care not, narcissist human, about your take on Eskom and neither does anybody else.
A similar vein of 21st-century megalomania can be found in the Selfie. In the past we could all stand on the summit of Lion's Head and simply take in the view. That was enough. Now we have to send up a camera drone and all laugh and wave hysterically while it streams the moment to Instagram.
And don't get me started on the phones. If I had a paper face mask for every time I've seen a couple dedicate more screen time than face time on a #datenight, man, I would be able to live through the coronavirus pandemic seven times over.
Now, before I go on a pop-culture tirade, let's bring this back to the world of cars and its ever-growing list of categories. You know, like cooking up seemingly new inventions like four-door coupés (really?) or the breaking down of existing genres into smaller sub-genres. First we had the SUV, then we got the crossover that kind of looked the same but wasn't. And then as everybody was catching on (or pretending to), in rolled the compact crossover that just a decade ago would have simply been labelled an SUV. It's ridiculous.
Anyway, silly nomenclature aside, the good news about the so-called "compact crossover" is that they actually work rather well. As their name suggests, they're easy to park and manoeuvre through crowded city streets yet still offer that commanding "above-the-traffic-and-the-peasants" seating position that everyone loves so much. Plus there's some extra ride height thrown into the mix for the odd foray down a dirt road - just don't be fooled into thinking you can do anything more.
At the end of last year the Volkswagen T-Cross was probably the poster child of this newfangled class: its humble Polo underpinnings jazzed up to create something akin to a shrunken Tiguan - an exercise in parts bin brilliance. It now faces a serious rival in the form of the Hyundai Venue.
Although not as classically handsome as the Volkswagen, the Kona-aping Venue is one of the better-looking vehicles in the Hyundai stable - especially when lined up next to their white-goods abomination that is the Creta. The nose is particularly striking with a large chrome radiator grille flanked by a pair of squinting headlamps. It's youthful and edgy and works for the times.
Inside things are a little more subdued. Like the T-Cross, there's a distinct lack of soft-touch surfaces. Instead, you're assaulted by lots of hard, scratchy plastics that, while durable, smack of cost-cutting. But these should stand up fine to years of road trips and errands and school runs and "drive-throughs" and dogs.
Fast Facts: Hyundai Venue 1.0 TGDI Fluid
• ENGINE: 998cc three-cylinder turbo
• POWER: 88kW at 6,000rpm
• TORQUE: 172Nm from 1,500 to 4,000rpm
• TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed DCT
• 0-100KM/H: 11.3-seconds (claimed)
• TOP SPEED: 187km/h (claimed)
• FUEL: 6.8l/100km (achieved)
• PRICE: From R362,500
Chintzy plastics aside, Hyundai has delivered in the features department. A touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay comes standard in the Fluid model as does a reverse camera, Bluetooth, chilled glove box and rear climate control vents. You even score cruise control.
The most surprising thing about the Venue is the way it drives. Based on the Accent, it's taut and rigid and flings through corners well. It turns in and resists understeer better than most, thanks in part to a lightweight three-cylinder engine sitting above the front axle.
Sporting the same displacement as the T-Cross, this bubbly little turbocharged triple makes slightly more power than the motor doing duty in the Volkswagen, but less torque. You don't really feel it though as the torque band is a lot wider in the Korean, meaning that seven-speed dual-clutch transmission doesn't feel quite as busy.
Capped off with a compliant ride and decent fuel economy, the Venue is a cracking package that easily rivals the T-Cross in performance and dynamics and, for the money, out-trumps it in terms of features. The Fluid model I had on test is R23,200 cheaper than the equivalent T-Cross Comfortline.
So although most torments such as Twitter probably aren't going anywhere anytime soon, it's good to know that some of the things we're stuck with are palatable. Compact crossovers make a lot of sense and the Hyundai Venue ranks among the best of them.
Just refrain from taking a selfie in front of yours and we'll get along fine.
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