Hyundai’s compact SUV looks set to be underestimated and over-deliver
2019 was quite the year in the compact SUV market for 1.0-litre turbocharged engines, the Ford Kuga (which has been here for quite a while already) was joined by VW’s T-Cross and now the Hyundai Venue.
Hyundai launched the Venue in South Africa early in December 2019 for the African, Indian and Middle-Eastern market. We hadn’t heard much about the vehicle before besides the reveal at New York International Auto Show, and that was that. No campaigns promising of what to look forward to, or bits ‘n bobs of info teased. Well, except for that episode where Hyundai SA caused enough chatter with one well-parked trailer.
We were fortunate enough to have key people from South Korean HQ at the event, giving us insight as in to what Hyundai plans to do next. The plan is to welcome new trends and customer demands, which will see their product shifting towards smarter-mobility innovations, shifting their business model from a mobility brand to a smart-mobility brand. Enough about brand Hyundai though, let’s get into what we came for, the Venue.
You pronounce it like you think you do, Venue, there’s no fancy French accent to accompany it. This is part of Hyundai’s new global strategy, one global name for one model. The name is a reflection on the realisation of achievement; a venue can be a special place, the car’s ability to take you to that place, and seeing potential in an action.
We already have the Kona and the Creta, so where does the Venue fit into the mix? The Kona is the baby of the group; less compact SUV more hatch on stilts with bigger bumpers. The Creta is sold in India, South Africa and a few other markets, slotting in there above the Kona. The Venue fits in below both of these as a true compact SUV.
Built in Chennai, India and made for the global market, this entry-level A-segment (according to Hyundai) offers a taste of urban adventure to those who need to consider their budget. Styling cues are on-trend – boxy shape, raised ride height, LED rear light clusters, and the two-tone roof and body combo on the top spec Glide. The Motion gets 15-inch steelies, while the Fluid and Glide get 16-inch alloys wheels.
Powered by the 1.0-litre TGDI three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that we’ve sampled previously in the Kona, producing 88 kW and 172 Nm of torque. While the Venue is the last compact SUV to launch locally it has something in its favour; manual or auto gearbox options across the entry-level Motion and mid-spec Fluid. This engine in the Kona was a winner; in the Venue we have no immediate qualms.
At launch, the 7-speed DCT (dual clutch transmission) shifted seamlessly, well ratioed between the gears, you can catch it out by anchoring your foot into the throttle, lag will occur as it takes a second or two to catch-up to your immediate wants. Though that is being unfair, it’s not designed to be a high-performance SUV, it’s built for Adventuring-Lite, where you want to go on the dirt road but don’t want anything technical or involving opposing wheels in the air. Pick of the gearboxes in my opinion is the six-speed manual. Not relying on set gear ratios, as per the DCT, means you can wrangle the most out of the Venue; or the least, depending on your driving needs.
Claimed fuel consumption is 6.5 l/100 km on the manual and 6. 9 l/100 km on the DCT. The Venue competed in the 2019 WesBank Fuel Economy Tour before its official launch, returning an average fuel consumption of 5.8 l/100 km over the five day, 2 500 km event. And having been on the event myself, I can say that 5.8 l/100 is a realistic and achievable number.
Standard across the Venue range is anti-lock braking, electronic stability control and electronic brakeforce distribution, all of which keep you on the road in a time of need. The entry-level Motion only gets driver and passenger airbags, while the Fluid and Glide get six airbags. All the models get Hill Start Assist and a multifunction steering wheel.
The interior is what Hyundai has become known for in the last few years, essential technology, mid-to-premium finishes (depending on spec line) and no feeling of being ripped off when you look around. The Fluid and Glide lines get a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise control function, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, the screen doubles as a reverse camera display. The glovebox with cooling function and something not many compact SUVs possess – rear seats have dedicated air vents.
As first impressions go it’s not going to have the gilt-paved path ahead, pricing will be a challenge against the competitors. The EcoSport is cheaper but, it’s old and dynamically challenged. The T-Cross is a smidgen cheaper and suffers awful lag from the DSG gearbox. The Venue does what is says on the box without the need to tick the options list and I like that, what you see is what you get.
Included in the prices are Hyundai’s groundbreaking 7-year / 200 000 km warranty, 7-year / 150 000 km roadside assistance, and a 3-year / 45 000 km service plan. Service intervals are at 15 000 km, or annually when applicable.