Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Pretty baby

Who needs a big, brash and cumbersome SUV when a cute and compact crossover can get the job done just as effectively? LIANA REINERS explains why the Hyundai Venue is a great choice for anyone who is in the market for a versatile and practical ride.

I can still remember when the Hyundai brand was first introduced in South Africa in 1999. Back then many people rolled their eyes. I might have been one of them. Korean cars? Sold in South Africa? It will never work! Yet here we are, more than 20 years later and Hyundai is a consistent top-five performer on the sales charts.

Once the buying public realised that these vehicles weren’t the cheap-and-nasties everyone expected them to be and saw Hyundai for what it was – an affordable and well-packaged alternative to the more traditional brands – it slowly gained traction and before long it became a household name. Now nobody bats an eye when you mention Korean cars.

Many years ago, we owned an Elantra station wagon and to this day it remains one of my favourites. It suited our needs to a tee – very practical, reliable and affordable. Of course, I have driven many Hyundai models since, and the brand continues to impress me with its quality offerings.

Most recently I spent a few days with the Venue, and it convinced me that I just might need another Hyundai in my life. It might be the baby in Hyundai’s line-up of SUV and crossover vehicles, but it definitely doesn’t have to stand back for any of its siblings.

The new Venue was launched towards the end of 2022, with three specification levels: the Motion as an entry-level derivative, followed by the Fluid with more design and convenience features. The range is topped by the N Line variant (the one I drove) with its unique signature design features.

Engine and drivetrains

The Venue is available with two engine options. The first is the four-cylinder Kappa 1.2-litre MPi petrol engine which delivers 61kW of maximum power and 115Nm of peak torque. This powerplant does duty in the Motion variant and is coupled with a five-speed manual transmission. Under the bonnet of the N Line is Hyundai’s three-cylinder Kappa 1-litre TGDi petrol engine, with 88.3kW and 172Nm on tap. It is mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission.

The vehicle I drove had the DCT and I must admit it is quite a little gem. Gear shifts can be done manually by moving the gear lever to the right, and then up and down to select the required gear. There are three different driving modes – Eco, Normal and Sport – that can be selected with a knob on the middle console between the front seats, while the selected mode is indicated by the relevant colour in the driver’s instrument cluster.

I continue to be amazed by just how nippy modern small-capacity engines are. The N Line is certainly not shy in the performance department. While it probably won’t win any sprint races, it does provide enough grunt to make it rather fun to drive.

Let’s talk styling

The new Venue is certainly attractive, especially in N Line guise. The most prominent feature of this particular model is an individualised grille, flanked by daytime running lights that are housed in separate clusters. and despite its smallish stature it oozes on-road presence. Viewed from the side it boasts full-volume wheel arches and strong character lines, while the redesigned rear end features new taillights that are joined across the new hatch door with a horizontal strip to form a visual unit. In addition, the N Line boasts 16-inch alloy rims and roof rails. In short, despite its smallish stature it oozes on-road presence.

Step inside

Despite its compact dimensions, the Hyundai Venue has a surprisingly spacious cabin, and a decent sized luggage area too. Of course, the 60/40 split, flat-folding rear seatback adds to its practicality.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel has audio controls and cruise control buttons to make a long road trip much easier for the driver. I didn’t do any of those, but it’s very comfortable about town too. This has a lot to do with the infotainment system, which is a real peach. It has an eight-inch touch screen system, and it goes without saying that both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

I was also very impressed with the convenience features, which include USB and USB-C ports, a Supervision 4.2-inch TFT LCD display to show useful information, a rearview camera and Bluetooth hands-free phone operation. Oh, and let’s not forget the cooled glovebox, rear air-conditioning ventilation ducts and automatic cruise control with buttons on the steering wheel. What more could a girl ask for?

Safety first

The Venue N Line is packed with a number of safety features, including six airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners with force limiters, ISOFIX child seat attachments, and an Advanced Braking System (ABS). It also has Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist and Hill Start Assist Control.

Colour me impressed

Is it just me or have vehicle colours become exceedingly boring? It’s shades of black, white and silver these days. Thankfully, the Venue colour palette covers a wide spectrum that allows buyers to express a sense of their own personal style. The Motion and Fluid variants are available in Typhoon Silver, Polar White, Titan Grey, Phantom Black, Fiery Red and Denim Blue. Buyers of the N Line derivate can choose between three two-tone colour schemes: Polar White with a black roof, Shadow Grey with a black roof, or Nicobar Blue with a black roof.

The verdict

A few years ago, the Venue might have been a little too compact to suit my needs. However, my kids are all grown up and very seldom ride in the car with me, so size-wise it’s just right for me. It really is a great ride, offering more than enough comfort, convenience and practicality for everyday use. And the fact that it’s a crossover means that it’s more than capable of keeping up with your adventurous streak.

Model line-up and pricing

• Venue 1.2 Motion (manual): R294 900

• Venue 1.0 Motion (manual): R354 900

• Venue 1.0 Motion (DCT): R394 900

• Venue 1.0 Fluid (manual): R389 900

• Venue 1.0 Fluid (DCT): R429 900

• Venue 1.0 N Line: R449 900

*Included in the price is Hyundai’s g 7-year/200 000km warranty, 7-year/150 000km roadside assistance, and a 3-year/45 000km service plan. Service intervals are at 15 000 km, or annually when applicable.

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