On the road

First drives: Hyundai Venue

A new small SUV has hit the market.

It’s a sign of the times: Australia’s most popular light car, the Hyundai Accent, is making way for an SUV.

If that sounds a little strange, then consider this – in just five years, the light car category has dropped 37%, while small SUVs have soared 58%. With prices starting from $19,990 MLP, the Hyundai Venue is nearly $5K dearer than the best-selling $15,490 Accent, yet still manages to undercut the best of the small SUV competition. It’s also much more car for the money.

Common across the Venue range is Hyundai’s 1.6L, 90kW/151Nm four-cylinder petrol engine, with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission (depending on the model grade) and driving through the front wheels.

Standard equipment includes an 8” touchscreen multimedia unit featuring bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a reversing camera and Hyundai’s SmartSense safety suite (forward collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, driver attention warning and high beam assist).

The entry-level Go ($19,990 manual, $21,900 auto) also features dusk-sensing headlights, hill-assist control system, cruise control and six airbags. Mid-range Active ($21,490 manual, $23,490 auto) adds rear parking distance warning system, LED daytime running lights, powered folding exterior mirrors with LED side repeaters, alloy wheels, and leather appointed steering wheel and gear knob.

Stepping up to the auto-only Elite ($25,490), buyers also get blind-spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic collision warning systems, an 8” satellite navigation system, climate control, LED tail-lights, 17” alloys and a distinctive two-tone roof.

Rear of Hyundai Venue

Steering wheel and front interior of Hyundai Venue

So, how does the Venue go on-road?

At the model launch out of Noosa, we drove the Active manual on a well-considered route that included quiet back roads and a variety of surfaces back to Brisbane. Being able to select a gear to suit the occasion brought out the best in the not particularly endowed 1.6 engine. Yes, you had to constantly shuffle through the cogs to maintain momentum, particularly when the going got twisty or undulating, but therein lay real driving engagement.

As usual, Hyundai’s local engineering team has fettled the Venue’s ride and handling into a well-rounded package.

Turn-in is sharp and cornering competent, with just enough grip to both reassure and entertain.

The Venue makes the most of its size, there being decent headroom front and back due to a relatively high roofline, and getting in and out is good thanks to a raised hipline that SUVs offer. Leg room is a little tight in the back, though boot space at 355L is more capacious than might be expected.

Republished with permission from Barry Green and RACQ.