The Hyundai Venue deserves an award for practicality.
It manages to package so much space into such a small footprint – it’s almost Skoda-like in its efficiency. It’s the shortest of these three models, yet has the second-longest wheelbase, is the second widest, second tallest and has the second biggest boot. But the length is its biggest – or, smallest – attribute, because its nose-to-tail measurement means you’re going to be able to fit into a lot more of those tight parking spaces you might otherwise avoid attempting.
Here’s a look at the sizes of these three SUVs, and also the boot capacity figures for them.
Hyundai Venue Active
Mazda CX-3 Maxx Sport
Boot capacity (litres)
It’s a very close competition between the Venue and Vitara, while the CX-3 is really poorly packaged in comparison. It’s the longest, narrowest, lowest and has the smallest boot of these three by a sizeable margin. As you can see, we struggled to fit the CarsGuide pram in the back. It did fit, but with minimal room for other items, while the other two had additional space available. It was the same story with the luggage – check out the gallery to see what we mean.
It is worth noting, however, that all three of these models have load floors that you can lower to increase the space available, and that’s because all three have space saver spare wheels rather than a full-size spare.
Now, you mightn’t plan to use the back seat of your car that much – we get it. Compact SUVs are often bought by singles, young couples, or older empty nesters, and the accommodation in the back seats often doesn’t factor into purchasing decisions for a lot of these customers. But what if you live an urban life and have youngsters? Kids, dogs, friends – the back seat is an important consideration for some buyers, so here’s how they stack up.
The CX-3 is the worst for back seat occupants. It was the least comfortable due to its cramped headroom, kneeroom and space across the cabin, plus its raked window-line means those prone to motion sickness might find it challenging. I can’t wait to see the space management advantages that the new Mazda CX-30 offers over the CX-3, because it promises a considerably more thoughtful cabin for those who need the space.
The Venue is second for back seat space. It offers exceptional headroom due to its boxy shape, and the width across the back row is pretty good, too, though the kneeroom could be better – it’s a little better than the CX-3, but it has hard seat backs (plastic covered to stop kids from damaging the fabric on the backs of the front seats) and if you’re tall, your knees may be wedged into that plastic. Also, there’s hard plastic on all the elbow rest points in the cabin of the Venue, which makes it feel a little cheap.
The best for back seat space is the Vitara, which offers excellent room for this size of car. There’s more than adequate head room, knee room (an extra 2-3cm with the seat set in the same position – my driver’s spot, and I’m 182cm tall) and nice width the cabin, too. The seat is a bit flat, but that helps it feel open, and the large windows in the back are great if you have kids who appreciate being able to see out.
As for other practicality elements, the Mazda has an advantage: it’s the only one of these three SUVs with a fold-down centre armrest and cup holders (the others miss out), and it has two map pockets (the others have one each).
Now, what about front seat accommodation?
The pick for our team was the Venue, which felt the most like you’d expect a small SUV to. It has practicality at its forefront, with a neat little storage shelf in front of the passenger, a tidy centre console with cup holders and loose item storage in front of the shifter, and the nicest looking media screen of this bunch.
The Mazda CX-3 looks premium, with a stylish design that is definitely more car-like than SUV-inspired. There are lots of curves and lines, and the dashtop media screen looks a little old (it misses out on smartphone mirroring, is laggy and slow to load, and took the longest to pair to a phone) but it’s the only one with a rotary dial controller (because the touchscreen becomes inactive at speed). Its storage is good, but the cup holders are a bit flimsy.
The Vitara’s cabin looks fine, but it’s nothing special. There are some nice materials used, and the touchscreen is bright and colourful, if a little cheap looking and fidgety (we had some issues with the Bluetooth connectivity in this car). The storage in here is good, with usable space between the front seats and a nice two-tier shelf in front of the shifter.
Now here’s a detailed rundown on the media systems in these cars.
Hyundai Venue Active
Mazda CX-3 Maxx Sport
Sound system (standard equipment)
Bluetooth phone and audio streaming
Touch screen size
Wireless phone charging (Qi)
Our judges all felt the Venue’s screen was the quickest and easiest to use. And if tech matters to you, that could be enough to push the Venue ahead here. But all told, it was the Vitara’s cabin space and flexibility that made it our pick in this section of the test.
|Hyundai Venue Active||8|
|Mazda CX-3 Maxx Sport||7|