The Hyundai marque has grown up quite a lot. Now boasting a car line-up that can easily rival its counterparts, and you can often even hear of them boasting cutting edge automotive tech. More recently, they have also sorted their luxury Genesis brand, and we must say that these are exciting times for Hyundai.
While they have cars up and down the range, it is their bread and butter cars that actually excite me the most. Their entry SUV, the Venue for instance, has a look that genuinely grows on you. Upright, and not as sporty-looking as some of the current day small SUV offerings. But the quirky design does make this Korean softroader a little more unique.
The Hyundai Venue is offered in two trims, the standard cae, and our test car, which is the ‘S’ model. The latter scores you 2 tone paint treatment, allowing for a little more play with colour. Not just a fancy paint job, Hyundai has even included matching accents on its body mouldings. Our test car was in Cosmic Grey, with an Acid Yellow roof.
Constant with their SUV design language, the Venue features a unique stacked headlamp cluster, while the hot-stamped front grille does make the Venue look a little more premium, even though it is Hyundai’s entry-level SUV offering.
While the dash is a full-on unapologetic plastic fest, it does not feel cheap to the touch (neither does it feel expensive). We have to say that Hyundai had nailed it with their quality, as everything simply fits, without mis-aligned edges.
The air-conditioning controls, with their acid-yellow accented bezels are a pleasant touch. The unique drive mode selector knob, air-vent adjuster tabs, stitching on the steering wheel, and even decorative seat piping are given the same acid yellow treatment.
Between the middle air-conditioning vents, an 8” infotainment screen shows off its simple user interface. Unlike their slightly larger Kona which receives a 7” display, flanked by a button assembly, the Venue’s screen is a cleaner glossy affair.
While it is a small car, the Venue offers enough space to accommodate four adults. Thanks to the rather straight roofline, passengers at the rear also have sufficient headroom.
Versatility is also another strong point. The Venu’s 355 litre boot, which is 3 litres more than its KIA Stonic cousin, but is (way) bettered by the 400 litres offered by the stylish SEAT Arona; does have a cool-but-not-perfect party piece, which is their stowable parcel shelf. This can be slid forward, down and out of the way, if you need to load in larger items. Unfortunately the shelf can be a little fiddly, since you will need to unhook it from the bootlid, and the sliding process is hardly a smooth one. Very good idea… could be implemented better. The Venue also has 60:40 folding rear seats, and an adjustable boot floor.
Taking the Venue out on the road, you would immediately notice how smoothly the ride is delivered. The Smartstream Gamma II 1.6 litre engine breathes naturally, meaning that the delivery of the drive is more linear and does not come in a lump, like how it is with force-fed engines. The 1.6 litre is paired with Hyundai’s very own Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), or more commonly known as a CVT.
While Hyundai also has a dual-clutch transmission available (which we enjoyed in their i30 hatchback), the IVT is a more suited transmission for the Venue, since the goal is not performance, but smoothness. Compared to a regular CVT, the IVT utilises a chain, as opposed to the common push belt to deliver the Venue’s 121bhp and 154Nm. The key advantage is better taking-off performance from a standstill; an annoying weakness often associated with CVT transmissions. That said, it will not deliver the bite of their dual-clutch, but it is still responsive, and smooth at the same time.
Although the Venue is a rather short car, it happily soaks up the most things the road throws it. There is a little bit of skip at the rear in rougher road conditions, but it is a predictable car to drive. While it has a humble 11.2 second century sprint, the Venue has enough grunt to overtake or even merge with traffic easily. And while you may on occasion squeeze the juice out of the little Hyundai, you can do this guilt-free, almost like eating a fat-free ice-cream; since it delivers a combined lab-tested consumption figure of 17.2km/l. We managed around 15.2km/l.
Active safety features, like it's Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Collision Warning, and Forward Collision Avoidance Assist are designed to keep you out of trouble. More interestingly, Hyundai has also included what they coined Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, a feature usually found on more expensive cars; which pings you whenever the vehicle in-front takes off, allowing you to take your eyes off the road to appreciate the many wonderful things around you *looks in the mirror*. Great when you are in start-stop city traffic situations.
Hyundai has targeted the Venue at younger, first-time car buyers, many who would be in a “Singapore price” context, looking for an affordable sub $100k car.
Unlike the related KIA Stonic, which embodies teenage spunk and youthful energy, the Venue is more relaxed… Simple.
Credits: Words and Photos by Clifford Chow