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Hyundai Venue 2020 review: Elite

EXPERT RATING
7.3
Hyundai is making lots of SUVs. The Santa Fe, the Tucson, the Kona, the Palisade (okay, it's not here yet...) and now there's one even smaller than the Kona, the Venue. Does it make sense to have an SUV this small?

I was more than a bit confused when I first read about the Hyundai Venue. Actually, scratch that - it was when I delved into the detail. From nodding sagely that this was indeed a clever idea it rapidly dawned on me that the distance between the Venue and the Kona was quite short in a number of key areas.

It's a fair bit smaller than the i30-based Kona but the cabin seems to have shrunk less than expected. It's got plenty of gear, even in the base Go version and looks pretty cool. It may not be as powerful as the Kona, but it's lighter so isn't hugely slower or less capable.

What's the point of it, then? Can the compact SUV get any smaller and still work as a car?

Hyundai Venue 2020: Elite
Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L
Fuel Type91 Ron
Fuel Efficiency7.2L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$25,490

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The top-of-the-range $25,490 Elite scores 17-inch alloys, 8.0-inch touchscreen, six-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, cruise control, sat nav, auto headlights, auto high beam, power windows and mirrors and a space-saver spare.

The top-of-the-range $25,490 Elite scores 17-inch alloys. (image: Peter Anderson) The top-of-the-range $25,490 Elite scores 17-inch alloys. (image: Peter Anderson)

The touchscreen runs a Hyundai sat nav (remember when not even the top Kona had that?) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. DAB is along for the ride to add to the usual AM/FM.

While the lower models allow you to choose a six-speed manual, the Elite is auto-only which helps explain the price gap to the mid-spec Active.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Not everyone is in love with the Venue's looks, but I'm a fan. Like Suzuki's Ignis, it's a chunk of design rather than just a form-and-function-by-the-numbers compact SUV.

Looking more like its (very) big Santa Fe sibling, the bold front end is so Hyundai right now.

  • Inside could have been dull, but again, someone went to town, splicing in clever detailing on the seats. (image: Peter Anderson) Inside could have been dull, but again, someone went to town, splicing in clever detailing on the seats. (image: Peter Anderson)
  • The design does a lot to lift what would otherwise be a dull affair from the get-go, big touchscreen or not. (image: Peter Anderson) The design does a lot to lift what would otherwise be a dull affair from the get-go, big touchscreen or not. (image: Peter Anderson)

There are funky details everywhere, like the echo of the plus shapes in the front grilles and on the rear bumper, the body colour blades in the wheelarches and lower door trims, and the way the sheetmetal carves an arc over the wheelarches.

It sounds like too much and for some, looks like too much. I like it a lot, even in the wild 'Acid Yellow' of the car I had for the week.

The Elite also scores a chrome front grille, LED DRLs and tail-lights, two-tone roof finish and darker tinted rear windows.

The Elite also scores a chrome front grille. (image: Peter Anderson) The Elite also scores a chrome front grille. (image: Peter Anderson)

Inside could have been dull, but again, someone went to town, splicing in clever detailing on the seats, splashing body colour on the piping, in the air vents, on some of the controls and the stitching.

None of it is ground-breaking, but it does a lot to lift what would otherwise be a dull affair from the get-go, big touchscreen or not.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Front seat passengers have plenty of room and a bit of storage, too. There's an off-road style tray set into the dash in front of the passenger, but it's not sticky rubber lined, so I'm not sure what you'd put in there.

There is a handy spot for your phone underneath the climate controls and on the Elite you get an extra USB charge port. There are also two cupholders up front and a modest storage bin under the armrest.

It's a mixed bag in the back - while two adults will fit almost as happily as in the larger Kona, they won't get a centre armrest, cupholders or USB charger. Don't even think about air-con vents. Each door has a bottle holder, though, so that's some compensation.

  • You do very nicely for boot space. Hyundai says it's an impressive 355 litres. (image: Peter Anderson) You do very nicely for boot space. Hyundai says it's an impressive 355 litres. (image: Peter Anderson)
  • Hyundai won't tell us how much space you have with the seats down, but it's bound to be around 1000 litres. (image: Peter Anderson) Hyundai won't tell us how much space you have with the seats down, but it's bound to be around 1000 litres. (image: Peter Anderson)

You do very nicely for boot space. Hyundai says it's an impressive 355 litres, just six litres short of Kona's boot and wallops the Mazda CX-3 (and 3 hatch, if you're interested) and C-HR.

The boot floor can be placed in two positions. The first is level with the loading lip that also delivers a flatter load space with the seats down. The second position is a bit deeper to liberate more space for taller items or a bigger load of shopping.

Hyundai won't tell us how much space you have with the seats down, but it's bound to be around 1000 litres.

It's a mixed bag in the back - while two adults will fit almost as happily as in the larger Kona, they won't get a centre armrest, cupholders or USB charger. (image: Peter Anderson) It's a mixed bag in the back - while two adults will fit almost as happily as in the larger Kona, they won't get a centre armrest, cupholders or USB charger. (image: Peter Anderson)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The plucky little car comes with an equally plucky engine, a naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder. With not a great deal of super-clever tech on board, you get 90kW at 6800rpm and 151Nm at 4860rpm to shift 1225kg, which honestly isn't terrible.

Using Hyundai's own six-speed automatic, the front wheels get all the power and I can assure you, these wheels are not overwhelmed.

Rather amusingly, the Venue scores a Peugeot-style traction system that will help sort you out with mud, snow and sand modes. In the Peugeot 2008, it's quite effective but I haven't had a chance to give this a go in the Hyundai.

The plucky little car comes with an equally plucky engine, a naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder. (image: Peter Anderson) The plucky little car comes with an equally plucky engine, a naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder. (image: Peter Anderson)

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Hyundai's government-approved testing kicked out a combined cycle figure of 7.6L/100km which, in the great Hyundai tradition of getting it in the ball park, isn't far off. I got 8.7L/100km, mostly running around the suburbs.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Venue arrives from South Korea with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, reversing camera, lane keep assist, driver attention detection and the Elite picks up blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

There are also three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX points.

Hyundai has resigned itself to a four-star ANCAP rating (even though it is yet to be tested or rated) and for some reason decided to skip a more advanced AEB system with cyclist detection because it wouldn't knock the Venue into five-star territory.

It has a space-saver spare. (image: Peter Anderson) It has a space-saver spare. (image: Peter Anderson)

That seems stingy on Hyundai's part and confirms my long-held belief that carmakers shouldn't be able to spec their way in or out of a five star rating. It's a flaw in the ANCAP system that has long irritated me.

Even worse, Hyundai thinks it won't make five star because, in true not-invented-here style, the Australian ISOFIX spec means the child protection score suffers to the point the top score isn't possible.

ANCAP may prove us all wrong, but seriously - this is more complicated than Formula 1's idiotic engine rules and grid penalties.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Hyundai offers a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty with 12 months roadside assist. Keep servicing with Hyundai and you'll get a roadside assist extension and sat nav updates.

You need to return to the dealer every 12 months or 15,000km and all Hyundais carry a lifetime service plan, meaning you'll know what pretty much any service is going to cost you for the life of the vehicle.

The first five years costs $1575, for an average of $315 a year, which isn't bad at all.

At the time of writing, the warranty was running at seven years, allegedly until 31 December 2019, but almost every other car company that has offered a 'special' has made it permanent.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

I'll admit that I wasn't expecting too much from the Venue. Down here in the cheap seats driving dynamics are hardly top of the list.

Having said that, the now departed i20 drove alright (well, the steering was good) and I can't remember the last time I drove a Hyundai I didn't just like, but actually enjoyed driving. It's a knack the Korean company has picked up.

As it happens, the Venue is pretty good and leagues ahead of the very old Accent it effectively replaces. The steering is light but reasonably direct with enough feel to let you know what's what underneath the front tyres.

The Elite comes with LED DRLs. (image: Peter Anderson) The Elite comes with LED DRLs. (image: Peter Anderson)

Around town the unstressed 1.6 picks up quite nicely - without being a fireball, obviously - and it's able to nip around without disgracing itself.

The similarly-sized C-HR might ride and handle ever so slightly better but would struggle to keep up with its tiddly 1.2 turbo and lazy CVT.

It also rides the lumps and bumps of suburban and inner-urban Sydney and does it all fairly quietly. Even when you crank up the speeds it's not bad, but don't expect overtaking to happen without forward planning and a long run up.

The four-wheel disc brakes are good, too and even the Nexen tyres are a bit above average. Yes, you're paying nearly six grand more than the base car, but you can see where most of that has gone.

I was more than a bit confused when I first read about the Hyundai Venue. (image: Peter Anderson) I was more than a bit confused when I first read about the Hyundai Venue. (image: Peter Anderson)

Verdict

The Venue takes aim at those wanting SUV style but not the usual light car compromises, managing to pack in a decent chunk of interior space for you and your stuff.

It's a sensible replacement for a type of car nobody is buying anymore, or at least that part of the market is vanishing very quickly. It's a smaller car than the Kona and offers customers the opportunity to buy a safe, well-engineered small car in  SUV form without having to buy the loveable-but-flawed Ignis. And it's a more fitting entry to the Hyundai range than the tired old Accent.

Pricing Guides

$22,740
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$19,990
Highest Price
$25,490
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership8
Driving7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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