Elite. It’s a word the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as meaning “the best of a class”.
So, the key question is: Should you consider the Venue above all the other small SUVs? And, if so, is the Elite variant truly the sweet spot in the range?
The 2020 Hyundai Venue Elite we’ve welcomed into the CarAdvice garage for a long-term loan is resplendent in its shade of Fiery Red paint, serving as the sassy younger sister to Hyundai’s popular Kona small SUV.
The Venue, however, is less of an SUV in the traditional sense – particularly given none of its variants are equipped with all-wheel drive – and should be considered more of a tall hatchback.
The front-wheel-drive Elite scores the same 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine available across the range, with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Those shopping for a manual won’t find it on the Elite – only the Active and Go grades offer a stick option.
The engine isn’t noteworthy on paper – producing an understated 90kW and 151Nm at most – but remember this isn’t a large car, measuring just over 4m long, 1.7m wide and almost 1.6m tall (with roof rails), with a minimum kerb weight of 1165kg.
Thus, it’s arguable the power-to-weight ratio (77kW/tonne) actually makes a bit more sense when you’re behind the wheel (and when you consider this is a born-and-bred city car meant for city commutes and not country touring and towing).
As the trophy child of the Venue range, the Elite is priced from $25,990 before on-road costs – $5800 more than the entry-level Go manual variant, which kicks off from $20,190 before on-road costs.
For the extra $1859 separating the Elite from the next grade down, the Active auto, you’ll score a two-tone roof (snappy!), rear privacy glass (shady!), satellite navigation with live traffic updates (handy!), LED rear combination lights (fancy!) and digital radio (entertaining!).
You’ll also add a touch more safety equipment in the form of a rear cross-traffic alert and a blind-spot collision warning – plus an extra USB port for charging, single-zone climate control, keyless entry and start (though our particular car is a slightly older version with a key-in ignition), and slightly more exciting interior and exterior trim options.
On the face of it, none of this additional equipment sounds all that groundbreaking, so we'll look at whether you're better off buying a grade down and pocketing the extra money for a really swanky road trip.
One thing that’s uniform across the range, however, is the petite size of the Venue, with every variant boasting the same 355L boot, 100cm of front head room, 98cm of rear head room, 105cm of front leg room and roughly 87cm of rear leg room.
That boot is actually larger than several key competitors, including the Mazda CX-3 or Suzuki Ignis, and only a touch smaller than the Venue's larger stablemate, the Hyundai Kona, at 361L.
Speaking of competitors, the Venue plays in the ‘light SUV’ segment, where it competes with cars like the segment-leading Mazda CX-3 (from $22,710 plus on-road costs), the Suzuki Ignis ($17,990 plus ORCs), the Nissan Juke ($27,990 plus ORCs), the Volkswagen T-Cross ($27,990 plus ORCs) or the all-new Ford Puma ($29,990 plus ORCs).
With its starting price, the Venue slots in at the lower end of this line-up in terms of affordability – only undercut by the smaller still Ignis.
Standard kit is comprehensive, if not extensive – there's an 8.0-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker sound system, reverse camera with parking sensors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an LCD instrument cluster with digital speedometer – paired to somewhat old-school functionalities like manually adjustable seats with no heating.
So, what do you sacrifice for shaving off the extra spend? That’s something we’ll seek to investigate in our long-term journey, with build quality, cabin finishes, comfort and technology high on our must-watch list.
We’ll also look at how practical the Venue is for families, commuters and those in need of proper SUV credentials.
Given we can safely assume the target demographic for this car carries out most of their existence in the city and suburbs, we’ll examine the Venue’s urban chops, including fuel consumption (Hyundai quotes 7.2L/100km), driver-assistance tech, parking and manoeuvring, and ease of use.
Hopefully, now that us Victorians are allowed to drive more than 5km from our homes again, we’ll also take the Venue further afield to see if it keeps its composure or comes undone on rougher roads and longer drives.
Let's find out if the Elite earns that fancy name tag.