The city SUV market has seen a huge influx of new models in recent years, including Hyundai’s baby Venue, which effectively replaced the Accent as the brand’s cheapest car.
How does it stack up against newer competition?
It may be the cheapest car in Hyundai’s range but if you’re expecting a circa $20,000 drive-away deal, you’re headed for disappointment. Drive-away prices start from about $24,300 for a basic manual version (an auto is roughly $2000 more) and top out at about $30,250 for the Elite model we drove.
The cheapest model is pretty well equipped for the price, with a decent 8-inch centre screen, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 15-inch alloys, cruise control and roof rails.
The Active grade is $2000 more and adds 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights and a leather steering wheel and gear knob.
Top-spec Elite is another $2000 again and has satnav, digital radio, premium cloth on the seats, a two-tone roof with coloured side mirrors, an extra USB power outlet and smart entry/start. If you forgo the two-tone roof, you get a sunroof.
In another strange quirk of product planning, you don’t get the wireless CarPlay of the cheaper model.
Servicing costs a reasonable $1632 for five years.
Although it has all the SUV styling cues, the Venue is basically a hatchback on stilts, so don’t expect acres of leg and knee room in the back pews.
The tall roof does, however, endow the little Hyundai with decent headroom and the doors open wide for easy entry.
Rear air vents are missing — they are available on some rivals at this price — but the cabin has a nice airy feel, with good vision for the driver.
You sit high on comfortable and supportive seats and the suspension takes the sharp edges off pockmarked city streets, although things can get a little bouncy at speed on country roads.
The rear load area is large for the class, which reduces the likelihood of rear passengers having to nurse items on their lap.
The Venue received a four-star crash test rating in 2019, scoring 91 per cent for adult protection and 81 per cent for child protection. There were some concerns about rear whiplash protection but overall it was a pretty solid result. The car was marked down in the pedestrian and safety assist criteria.
For an entry-level vehicle, though, the Venue has an impressive array of driver assistance features, including auto emergency braking, lane-keep assist, auto hi-beam dipping and driver attention warning.
The Elite model adds blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as rear parking sensors.
While many rivals have turned to small capacity turbo three-cylinder engines, Hyundai persists with a bigger naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder for the Venue.
The outputs are modest — 90kW and 151Nm — but if you’re prepared to rev it and deal with the noise, it gets along smartly enough for a city car.
Steering gives decent feedback and it’s well balanced through corners, although it can take a moment to reset after a bigger bump.
Fuel consumption isn’t great for a car this size. The official claim is 7.2L/100km but you’ll do a bit more if you’re pottering around the city.
Less than sharp pricing and an average engine are balanced by refreshing styling and a spacious cabin.
Skoda Kamiq from $29,990 drive-away
Our reigning car of the car, the Kamiq delivers more space, more equipment and better performance for less money.
Kia Stonic, from $29,990 drive-away
Based on the Rio hatchback, the Stonic has a longer warranty and a punchy turbo three-cylinder, but it is missing some safety gear.
Mazda CX-3 from $30,490 drive-away
Stylish and safe, with a larger 2.0-litre engine that delivers more power and uses less fuel. Cabin is cramped, though, and the load area small.
HYUNDAI VENUE ELITE VITALS
Price: About $30,250 drive-away
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl, 90kW/151Nm
Warranty/servicing: 5-yr/ul’td km, $1623 for 5 years
Safety: 4 stars, 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert
Cargo: 355 litres
Spare: Space saver