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Hyundai Venue 2021 review: Auto


Daily driver score

3/5

Urban score

3.5/5

The Hyundai Venue has a direct lineage to the very first Korean car to be sold in Australia, the original Excel of 1986.

Beneath that boxy body and tiny wheels is the latest overseas-market Accent, also known variously as the Verna, Super Pony and – you've guessed it – Excel in previous iterations, but with extra road clearance (about 70mm, to 170mm, compared to the last RB-series sedan) and a go-anywhere attitude (if not ability).

The last of the Australian-bound Accents kicked off from $15,490 in 2019 (and as low as $12K driveaway over the years), but – being a higher-riding crossover that buyers go gaga over – the Venue starts from a more sobering $20,690 before on-road costs (ORC), topping out at $26,490.

Ours is the 2021 base Venue ‘Venue’ (replacing the previous ‘Go’ grade) 2WD auto, from $22,710 before ORC, or around $26,800 driveaway (D/A).

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

To refresh, the Venue hit the scene late in 2019 with an expectation of being a sub-$20K replacement for the Accent, but that low pricing didn’t pan out as planned.

Nonetheless, our $22,710 Venue with a 90kW/151Nm 1.6-litre auto is on the cheap side of the burgeoning light/small SUV brigade, though it is substantially undercut by China’s larger $23,490 D/A MG ZS with a listless 84kW/150 1.5 auto and soon-to-be-succeeded $22,990 D/A Haval H2 Premium and its zingy 110kW/210Nm 1.5-litre turbo/auto combo.

Our $22,710 Venue is on the cheap side of the burgeoning light/small SUV brigade. Our $22,710 Venue is on the cheap side of the burgeoning light/small SUV brigade.

The Hyundai does cost less than the other sub-$25K contenders, including the related, recently-released $22,990 Kia Stonic S with a breathless 74kW/133Nm 1.4-litre auto, enduring Mazda CX-3 Neo Sport from $24,890 with a gutsy 110kW/195Nm 2.0-litre auto and $24,990 Suzuki Vitara with a revvy 86kW/156Nm 1.6 auto. The rest – including the base Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos and bestselling Mitsubishi ASX autos – cost more.

On the safety front, the Venue includes six airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as part of Hyundai’s Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist driver-assist suite of features that includes pedestrian detection, vehicle stability management (stability control and traction control), anti-lock brakes with Emergency Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, hill-start assist, lane-keep assist, driver-attention warning, auto on/off headlights and tyre pressure monitors.

The cheapest Venue also ushers in wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto tech, reverse camera, an eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, power windows, remote central locking, heated door mirrors, centre console box with sliding lid, cloth seats, 15-inch alloy wheels and a space-saver spare. Metallic or mica paint costs $495.

The cheapest Venue also ushers in wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto tech. The cheapest Venue also ushers in wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto tech.

One omission is digital radio. For rear-parking sensors you’ll need to climb up to Active spec (from $24,640), while blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are found on the flagship Elite for another $2K extra. And the Hyundai’s warranty is five years compared to the Kia’s and Chinese brands’ seven-year items, while Mitsubishi offers a conditional 10/non-conditional five-year warranty.

So, yes, the entry-level Venue does provide much of what you need and a bit of what you want, in a truly compact, very square and practically designed light SUV, for less than most. And, frankly, it’d be our pick over the ageing ZS and H2.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Any way you look at it, the Venue is clearly of the function-before-form school of styling, with an upright silhouette for easy interior access, sharp edges and boxy proportions. Some think dorky. Some say cute. At least the Hyundai stands out of the crowd.

More importantly, at just four metres long, 1.8 metres wide and 1.6 metres tall, this is properly shaped for urban driving and city commuting, helped out by those upright pillars, deep windows and lofty seating.

Hat shapes have their advantages.

Any way you look at it, the Venue is clearly of the function-before-form school of styling. Any way you look at it, the Venue is clearly of the function-before-form school of styling.

How practical is the space inside?

Very.

Shaped for easy entry and egress, you don’t so much sit inside as swing-on into the Venue, before sat on seats that are wide if a bit flat and so lacking in side/lateral support. As with the tilt/telescopic steering, there’s plenty of adjustment available for the right driving position to be found.

The Venue’s dash is a solid if plasticky item, but with contemporary and inviting elements to its design, like the sizeable stand-alone touchscreen, pleasing symmetrical layout of the heater and vents, attractive three-spoke steering wheel and elegant analogue instrumentation dials, complete with digital speedo and detailed audio/multimedia and vehicle info screen in between. Quite grown up, in fact.

Shaped for easy entry and egress, you don’t so much sit inside as swing-on into the Venue. Shaped for easy entry and egress, you don’t so much sit inside as swing-on into the Venue.

More strong points include ample ventilation, lots of storage, pleasant striped seat trim and confidence-boosting vision out. Most controls are within easy reach, a USB-A and 12V socket are located where they're most easy to access and there’s a solid, quality look and feel to the way this thing is put together. The squared-off door edges are reminiscent of some ‘80s designs such as the first Ford Laser.

On the flipside, even for front-seat occupants. the cabin can be noisy and even boomy at speed, a bit like a hollow box.

The same thoughtfulness has been applied out back, with the 60/40 backrest providing a handy reclining function, though the (high-set) bench cushion remains as flat at the items up front, so is also lacking in support. Still, feet can tuck in underneath the front cushions, there’s more room than the diminutive dimensions suggest for a pair of broader passengers, and it doesn’t seem cramped or claustrophobic back there.

In the back, the 60/40 backrest provides a handy reclining function. In the back, the 60/40 backrest provides a handy reclining function.

Among the amenities are overhead grab handles, phone storage in the door armrests, a single map pocket and small bottle holders in the back doors, but there are no air vents, cupholders, central armrest or USB charge ports - an odd omission considering the youth Hyundai is attempting to appeal to.

One of the Venue’s best features is its big, square boot, measuring in at a generous 355 litres (VDA). With a low loading lip, deep flat floor with two height options and interior access via the folding backrests, there’s enough utility here for the Hyundai to make a handy little hauler. One unique feature is the way the parcel shelf can be slotted easily behind the rear backrests if larger items need to be carried. Clever. A space-saver spare is located underneath the load area.

You wouldn’t call the Venue a Tardis as you would a Honda HR-V, but it’s plenty big and spacious inside, as well as practical, for an SUV this small. We’d wish it were quieter, though.

  • One of the Venue’s best features is its big, square boot, measuring in at a generous 355 litres (VDA). One of the Venue’s best features is its big, square boot, measuring in at a generous 355 litres (VDA).
  • There’s enough utility here for the Hyundai to make a handy little hauler. There’s enough utility here for the Hyundai to make a handy little hauler.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Under the snubby bonnet is a 1591cc 1.6-litre twin-cam 16-valve naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine with variable valve timing, delivering a healthy 90kW of power at a heady 6300rpm and 151Nm of torque at 4850rpm.

This Gamma II family of engines is certified as Euro 5-rated for emissions.

Under the snubby bonnet is a 1591cc 1.6-litre twin-cam 16-valve naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine. Under the snubby bonnet is a 1591cc 1.6-litre twin-cam 16-valve naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine.

With a kerb weight of 1225kg, the Venue offers a power-to-weight ratio of 75.1kW per tonne – an efficient result.

How much fuel does it consume?

With just 827km, our Venue was barely run-in, but some 400km later we saw 9.0-litres per 100km in a mix of urban, suburban, freeway and country-road driving. The latter also included performance testing. This isn’t a great figure for a supermini-based crossover, revealing how hard that little engine has to work.

Hyundai’s claims are a combined average of 7.2L/100km, for a carbon dioxide emissions average of 165 grams/km. Urban and Extra Urban figures are published as 9.5L/100km and 5.9L/100km respectively. We were some ways off the brochure figures.

Note that the Venue requires just 91 RON unleaded petrol, though 94 RON E10 ethanol petrol can also be used – and that’s often the cheapest.

Fitted with a 45-litre tank, some 625km between refills is possible.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Tested in 2019, the Venue scores a disappointing four out of five stars in the ANCAP crash-test results.

“The Venue fell shy of the 5-star safety standard we’ve come to expect from Hyundai with Marginal performance levels observed for its ability to avoid a rear-end impact with vehicles in front,” an ANCAP spokesperson said.

“This limited the Venue’s Safety Assist score to 62 per cent.”

Tested in 2019, the Venue scores a disappointing four out of five stars in the ANCAP crash-test results. Tested in 2019, the Venue scores a disappointing four out of five stars in the ANCAP crash-test results.

Each Venue comes with six airbags, AEB as part of Hyundai’s Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist driver-assist suite of features that includes pedestrian detection, vehicle stability management (stability control and traction control), anti-lock brakes with Emergency Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, hill-start assist, lane-keep assist, driver-attention warning, auto on/off headlights and tyre pressure monitors.

Need child seats in your Hyundai? There are two rear-seat ISOFIX points as well as three top tethers for straps.

Meanwhile, the AEB system operates from 8km/h, to speeds of up to 60km/h (pedestrians) and 180km/h (other vehicles), with a complete stop possible at speeds of up to 60km/h. The lane-departure tech operates between speeds of 60km/h and 180km/h.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty as well as 12 months of roadside assistance, with scheduled servicing at every 12-month or 15,000km intervals.

Published online, the servicing prices for the Venue vary between $259 and $459 annually over the first five years, with the first 1500km check a freebie.

What's it like to drive around town?

Look up ‘fit-for-purpose’ in the dictionary and you might just find an image of a Hyundai Venue staring back at you.

The Korean-built small SUV is tuned to be a fun and frisky urban dweller, and that is immediately obvious by just how simple it is to drive, manoeuvre and park around town. A 10.2-metre turning circle, the aforementioned good all-round vision, lofty seating position and 170mm ground clearance help.

But it’s more than just pert proportions at work here. A strong, lusty engine and an auto transmission tuned for instantaneous throttle responses means the Venue’s driver can dart in and out and up and through traffic, car-park ramps and traffic jams without lag or hesitation. Despite having just 1.6 litres, the Gamma II isn’t gutless by any measure around town.

Look up ‘fit-for-purpose’ in the dictionary and you might just find an image of a Hyundai Venue staring back at you. Look up ‘fit-for-purpose’ in the dictionary and you might just find an image of a Hyundai Venue staring back at you.

You’d call it spirited but noisy.

Away from the big smoke, however, the Hyundai becomes a little vocal and coarse, since plenty of revs are required for peak power, which means the driver is constantly flooring the accelerator in order to eke out maximum punch. Plus, that auto that behaves so smartly in the city becomes a little lazy and slurry up at higher speeds; you need to be very decisive with your right foot.

It isn’t a deal breaker, but the Venue’s powertrain thus has to keep working long and hard to keep up with stronger rivals such as the Mazda CX-3 or even Honda’s HR-V. And as we’ve already noted, the price to pay is a fall in fuel economy.

The electric rack-and-pinion steering is tight, sharp and forthright around town. The electric rack-and-pinion steering is tight, sharp and forthright around town.

Find yourself out in the hills, and you’ll appreciate the Australian-specific tuning work that’s been carried out on the Venue, even though the basic MacPherson strut-front and torsion beam-rear suspension set-up is very par for the course.

As we’ve already said, the electric rack-and-pinion steering is tight, sharp and forthright around town, and with that low-down response, it makes for a fun and zippy city slicker. Luckily, the chassis’ inherent stability means the Venue can be thrown into a corner at speed, where it will go exactly where directed while sticking steadfastly to the chosen line.

Over really bumpy bits the rear end might hop about a bit, but the stability and traction controls reel everything back in place; over gravel roads, however, these driver-assist systems can feel a bit tardy in their reactions.

The biggest concern with the Venue, though, is comfort. There is a price to pay for such dynamic agility, and that’s a chassis tune that's on the firm side, making for a bumpy ride on all but the smoothest roads; along with too much road, tyre and engine noise intrusion, it undermines refinement. This isn’t an especially quiet or civilised SUV.

The base Venue offers plenty for urban commuters seeking an easy, well-equipped and lively automotive companion, that also doubles up as a roomy and practical carryall. It’s certainly a more appealing proposition than any Accent or Excel that’s come before.   

That’s fine for around town, but the Hyundai’s lacklustre performance out on the open road, combined with an unsettled ride and ever-present noise, undermine what is essentially a sound compact crossover.

If the Venue’s styling speaks to you and the price is right, by all means, do it; but – while the best of the very cheapest small SUVs available right now – for less than 10 per cent more, better alternatives do exist.

$22,710

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3/5

Urban score

3.5/5
Price Guide

$22,710

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.