Hyundai Venue VS Toyota C-HR
- Great looks
- Good to drive
- Roomy for its size
- Engine buzzy under load
- Dodgy tyres and steel wheels
- Plastic steering wheel
- Cool styling
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added
- Bigger touchscreen now standard across range
- Visibility not great in the second row
- 1.2-litre petrol engine lacks oomph
- Manual transmission dropped from line-up
I'm sure someone else came up with the phrase micro SUV, because I'm not that original, but they're an intriguing idea. Far too tiny to even offer all-wheel drive as an option let alone a sensible engineering challenge, they're rapidly eating into the sales of lights cars.
Suzuki's Ignis strikes me as the first one to drop but Hyundai's Venue became the most high profile. And soon after its launch we learnt it would not only eat into Hyundai's ancient light car offering, the Accent, it would effectively take it out.
Any hitman will tell you the key to a successful assignment is getting a return for your efforts. I imagine these are the sorts of conversations these people have with their employers. While the Accent is cheap as chips, the Venue, even in the basic Go version, is not. A tick over twenty grand is not what you'd call entry-level...
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
You know the Distracted Boyfriend internet meme? The one where the guy is checking out another lady while his disgusted girlfriend glares at him?
Now, if me actually attempting to translate a meme (and purely a visual gag at that) hasn’t put you off then chances are you’re likely to read this review about the updated C-HR which has just landed, looking like nothing has changed except for the price.
Well, there are changes – some are big such as the addition of a hybrid to the range and a new media system, and some aren’t as noticeable, like the tweaks to the C-HR’s face.
This review will take you through the new prices, reveal the features and safety tech, and tell you what it’s like to drive. And, I promise, no more meme explanations.
|Engine Type||1.2L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Venue Go is probably the near future of entry-level cars. As the light car market continues to shrink in favour of SUVs (makes note to return to this statement annually to see how long it takes to be laughably wrong), cars like this will become commonplace.
The Venue Go's depth of engineering, half-decent equipment level and pretty reasonable dynamics mean that price aside, the bog-spec car is actually alright.
Not making huge design changes is very Toyota – look at the LandCruiser and the 86 – and if anything, keeping the same styling could improve the resale vale of you C-HR if you decide to part with it down the track. The changes that have been made are good ones: the new, bigger screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; and a hybrid.
The sweet spot in the C-HR range is the FWD petrol entry grade, but if money had nothing to do with it, I’d pick the hybrid Koba for sure.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
The Venue is a nice piece of design. In Elite form, which I drove a hundred years ago in 2019, it was bristling with cool detailing. The Go, being the taster for the rest of the range, is comparatively stripped back. The 15-inch steelies - while excellent for bashing around town with the expendable hubcaps - do look a bit ridiculous, but if you're not bothered, there's nothing wrong with them.
I quite like the black grille and the otherwise unadorned bodywork, though, and the basic chunky design survives and stands up nicely. Does it look like you've cheaped out? Apart from the wheels, no.
Absolutely – just look at it. Toyota could have easily just done an SUV version of the Corolla and kept it conservative looking, but they’ve gone all out and risked creating something that might not be to everybody’s tastes, and the company should be commended for the bravery.
The C-HR’s styling is adventurous with that big, fat face, pumped-up wheel guards and protruding tail-lights. Tweaks in this update really are limited to redesigned front and rear bumpers.
I’m a fan of two-tone roofs on all cars and the option to get it on the C-HR enhances the puffed-up body.
I’d say the C-HR has the most interesting cabin of all current Toyotas. Take a close look at the images of the interior with its textured materials and diamond patterns. The new bigger screen really is the only change to the cabin in this update.
You can spot a top-of-the-range Koba from the entry grade C-HR by the privacy glass and larger 18-inch alloy wheels.
The C-HR isn’t a big SUV. Want the dimensions? The C-HR is 4309mm long, 1795mm wide and 1565mm tall. Ah, but is it practical? Let’s talk about that below.
Let's start with the bad stuff. The back seats, while enough to fit two adults for short journeys (as long as the front seats passengers aren't too tall) are pretty sparsely equipped. No armrest, cupholders, air vents, nothing. Just the seats. The doors have bottle holders, to join the front pair for a total of four. Headroom is good, though.
Moving up front, you get two cupholders and a spot for your phone under the centre stack and some space for little bits and bobs.
The boot is an impressive 355 litres, clobbering just about everything in this class and many in the next size up. Hyundai's own Kona (one-size-up), has a 363-litre boot. The false floor in the boot means you can hide stuff under the boot floor, separate your goods or take it out completely for a bit more height.
The answer varies between “oh, wow” and “oh, dear”. Oh, wow in terms of rear legroom, because even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with space to spare (even headroom is good); also, in terms of boot space – because there’s 318 litres.
Oh, dear in terms of the cool-looking rear door handles being so high (small children might not be able to reach them) and the how visibility is reduced for those sitting in the second row by the way the window line kicks up.
That said, cabin storage is good with four cupholders (two in the back and two up front), decent-sized door pockets, a deep centre console bin and a large hidey hole in front of the shifter.
What’s missing? Not much. Wireless charging would be good, but still there’s a 12-volt outlet and a USB port.
Price and features
Starting at $20,190 for the six-speed manual, adding an automatic transmission to the Venue Go lifts the price to $22,210. That's a decent wedge for a tiny car, especially when the larger i30 isn't that much more expensive. Leaves a bit of clear air for the next-size-up Kona, though.
Shipping in from South Korea, the Venue Go is kitted up with 15-inch steel wheels, a four-speaker stereo, air-conditioning, reversing camera, cruise control, automatic headlights with auto high beam, power door mirrors, power windows and a space-saver spare.
The updated C-HR comes with a small price increase. The update also sees the manual variant dropped from the C-HR line-up. This leaves the front-wheel drive (FWD) base-spec C-HR with the auto transmission as the entry point into the model and the price of this has increased by $550 to $29,540, while the all-wheel drive (AWD) costs another $2000.
The Koba grade with FWD now starts at $33,940 (a $650 increase), with the AWD commanding that $2000 price premium.
New to the range and now the priciest C-HR is the FWD Koba Hybrid at $36,440.
Coming standard on the entry-level C-HR is an 8.0-inch touchscreen (which replaced the previous 6.1-inch display), sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, six-speaker stereo, fabric seats, LED headlights and running lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Stepping up to the Koba adds 18-inch alloys, privacy glass, leather upholstery, heated front seats, panoramic camera and proximity unlocking.
Engine & trans
A rocket it isn't, with Hyundai's 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder, with 90kW/151Nm to pull the 1225kg of kerb weight along. Hyundai's in-house six-speed auto supplies the power to the front wheels.
Similar to French rival Peugeot's 'Grip Control', the Venue has a range of settings for low grip situations as well as three on-road modes that seem to be a volume control for the engine.
The C-HR comes with a choice of petrol engine and, new with this update, a hybrid system.
The petrol variant has a 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder engine making 85kW/185Nm. Unfortunately, a manual gearbox isn’t offered any more, but there is a CVT auto and you can choose between a two-wheel drive or AWD.
The hybrid combines a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (72kW/142Nm) and an electric motor (53kW/163Nm). Toyota says the combined power output of the engine and motor is 90kW. A CVT auto does the honours here, too.
The C-HR is screaming out for a powertrain that offers more grunt – imagine a Gazoo Racing variant?
Until that happens my pick is the hybrid, the little nudges of torque the electric motor provides while cruising along are great and you’ll save fuel, too. Read about that next.
Let’s start with the petrol C-HR. Toyota says the FWD car should use 6.4L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads while the AWD uses a smidge more at 6.5L/100km. The petrol engine requires 95 RON premium unleaded.
The hybrid (which is FWD only) is the mileage hero with Toyota saying the combined fuel economy is 4.3L/100km. Urban fuel economy is even better at 3.8L/100km. The petrol engine used in the hybrid system requires 91 RON unleaded.
The Australian launch of the C-HR was on country roads – the hilly, winding, fast sort which should really use up lots of petrol, but after 50km the trip computer said the hybrid C-HR was using an average of 4.9L/100km.
This will either make you laugh or scratch you head. Driving the Venue Go reminded me of our (now written-off) Volkswagen Up, a car you can't buy anymore for reasons that are too silly to recount.
Adherents of that car will tell you that it is one of the most over-engineered small cars ever made. It had a great ride and handling compromise, characterful engine and made you smile.
While the Venue's buzzy 1.6 may not match the VW's 1.0-litre triple (or its colossal service costs), everything else about the way the Go drives is very Uppity. If that makes sense.
The plastic steering wheel may not feel all that nice in your hand, but it responds well to your inputs, despite doughy 185/65 tyres on steel wheels, hilariously cartoonish in 2020. This kind of response is unexpected as is the excellent ride for such a small car.
For city-dwellers, the only times these tyres will trouble you will be on greasy roads or if you head out of town on a long trip.
The Venue is perfectly fine when it's one or two up, but start loading in people and the engine starts to complain. Ignore the Sport mode, it just makes the engine buzz unpleasantly and doesn't offer anything the normal mode does. Eco is also a waste of time. Just don't touch that dial and all will be well.
The light steering is always going to be great for parking but is oddly communicative when you're shooting about the back streets. Again, the tyres don't do the change of direction any favours, but it's not a hot hatch, is it? And tyres are easily replaced, the suspension not so much.
Don’t dismiss the C-HR as being all about the way it looks. This is one of the best driving small SUVs at this price point. There are more popular ones which don’t ride, steer or handle anywhere near as well as the C-HR, and that’s down to the new-generation platform which also underpins the new-gen Corolla.
Until this update only the 1.2-litre turbo petrol was available in Australia and now the hybrid variant has arrived to join it.
I drove them back-to-back at the Australian launch and was reminded how the 1.2-litre with the CVT just seemed to lack the oomph that this SUV could easily handle.
There’s a 2.0-litre version of the car in the United States and I can’t help but feel we’ve been shortchanged in missing out on that gruntier car.
The hybrid became my pick of the two and not just because it’s way more fuel efficient - it was more fun to drive. I enjoyed the little nudges the electric motor gave when I dabbed accelerator while cruising.
Dab the accelerator in the petrol-only C-HR and as with most turbocharged cars there’s a lag or delay and with a CVT there’s a lot of noise before anything happens. The responsiveness from the hybrid won me over.
The suspension in the hybrid C-HR is different to the petrol, too. The hybrid car’s ride felt softer and more comfortable while the petrol sibling was firmer and a bit sportier feeling.
There are also three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX points.
The Venue scored four out of a possible five ANCAP stars in December 2019, the fifth star eluding it due to the type of AEB.
The Toyota C-HR scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2017. Coming standard across the range is advanced safety equipment such as AEB with pedestrian detection, active cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assistance, auto high beam, and blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert.
All C-HRs also come with seven airbags, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.
For child seats there are three top tether points and two ISOFIX points across the second row.
Both grades come with a space saver spare wheel under the boot floor.
You need to service the Venue every 12 months or 15,000km and all Hyundais carry a lifetime service plan, so you know how much a 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.
The C-HR is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Hybrid versions are also covered by the same warranty including the battery.
Servicing of the petrol and hybrid variants is recommended annually or every 15,000km with the first four services capped at $195.