Considering the global growing trend to eschew sedans and even hatchbacks in favour of SUV-styled transport, it is hardly surprising automakers are rushing to have a player in every price category – the latest starter on the local scene being the three-derivative Hyundai Venue.
The Venue comes in as a small SUV to compete against Ford’s EcoSport, Renault Captur and the Volkswagen T-Cross, bringing with it competitive pricing and high specification levels.
However, to compete in this winner-take-all market, car makers have to also apply some lateral thinking in order to step to the left of the boring sameness that often characterises a crowded market segment and, with the Venue, Hyundai has achieved this – the cascading grille and split front lights giving the little car huge presence and, for my money, one of the most attractive designs on the market at the moment.
Venue is an odd name for a car but it was not the original chosen by the Koreans. The original name is unimportant, the reason it changed is because it was hugely offensive in another language, so in comes Venue selected because the company is touting this car ‘as the place to be’.
It is offered in Motion, Fluid and Glide specification grades, with all models powered by Hyundai’s 1,0-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. Producing 88 kW and 172 Nm in all versions, the engine can be mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT dual-clutch automated transmission.
The engine is same unit as fitted to the Kona that was launched last year and, considering its mere 998 cc, is surprisingly peppy, especially in the manual version, and will hold its own quite easily on the freeway.
Measuring 3 995 mm in length and 1 770 mm in width, the Venue is one of the smaller offerings in its class although it does offer 350 litres of boot space. Hyundai engineers reduced the thickness of the front seat backrests to improve rear passenger knee room – this works on on my brief test drive did little to reduce the comfort of the driving position.
The Motion model is the baseline, coming in at R274 00 and offers manual air-conditioning, remote central locking, a conventional four-speaker radio with Bluetooth connectivity, multi-function steering wheel, on-board computer, power windows and mirrors, dual front crash bags, ESP stability control and anti-lock brakes, riding on 15-inch steel wheels. (all models have a space-saver spare).
The mid range Fluid adds 16-inch alloy wheels and chrome grille trim to the features list, along with a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, rear park assist with reverse camera, cruise control, auto headlights, partial leather seats, side and curtain crash bags and a rear demister and wiper.
The Glide, which is only available with the auto transmission, tops the range gaining dual-zone climate control, push-button start, fog lights and a black roof.
While Hyundai does expect some impact on sales in the more traditional passenger segment, the Venue is designed very much with female buyers in mind – the designer, after all, is a woman, Juhyun Ho and she says: “We very much wanted the car to be a safe space with mutli-functional capability from transport to work and back, fetching the kids from school and going shopping. At the same time we wanted it to be fun and trendy.”
All versions are sold with a 5-year/150 000 km warranty (with 2-year/50 000 km powertrain extension) and a 3-year/45 000 km service plan.