Let me paint a picture of my street for you: it’s narrow, it’s one-way, it’s located five minutes from the city, and it’s close to two major train stations in a busy little enclave.
Cars can park on both sides of the road, and because my suburb is constantly in the grips of ongoing construction, the majority of vehicles are huge utes or vans.
Rarely can you nose neatly into a park – you typically have to reverse in.
Swing too wide and you risk the front of your car bumping the cars across the road. Go too narrow and you won’t be able to slide snugly into the space before your rear bumper hits the car behind.
Put simply: I hate parking in my street. It’s easily the worst part of my day – made even worse by the audience of tradies some of my poorer performances can attract.
In our 2020 Hyundai Venue Elite long-termer, however, it’s a cinch. In my opinion, Hyundai has struck the perfect balance between ride height, length and visibility – a magic combination that somehow makes even the most intimidating of spaces feel manageable.
For reference, the Venue is just over 4m long, 1.7m wide and almost 1.6m tall, with a tight turning circle of 10.2m.
Unfortunately, however, my quick manoeuvring can often mean I get ahead of the steering assistance system – with the power steering taking a few moments to catch up, leaving me to turn the wheels manually until the power steering catches up.
As a result, on at least a weekly basis, I’ll find myself having to use all my strength to pull the Venue into line when the power steering lags – leaving me fearing I’ll plough into a car across the street before I get the chance to correct.
Aside from that frustrating gripe, there are a few other things to be aware of when it comes to city life with the Venue.
Generally, it lacks a fair amount of advanced driver-assistance technology and active safety tech (more on that later), it can feel underpowered when overtaking or merging onto the freeway, and the six-speed automatic can be jerky in traffic and manoeuvring at lower speeds.
Otherwise, the basic driver assistance and safety functions on offer can prove handy while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic or tight spaces.
Rear sensors and a reverse camera work well to help you gauge your surroundings, and you likely won’t ever feel the need for front sensors (which the Venue range doesn’t offer).
I would, however, have appreciated the option of live speed-limit information given how often limits can change in the suburban streets around my house thanks to school zones galore – but hey, that’s my responsibility as a driver.
Another one of my responsibilities as a driver is to pay attention to the car in front. But just in case you drift off, the Venue’s leading vehicle departure alert will bring you back to earth, and prevent you from being honked at by impatient cars behind (although I can’t help but think it enables distracted driving?).
|2020 Hyundai Venue Elite|
|Price as tested (excluding on-road costs)||$25,990|
|Engine configuration||1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol|
|Power and torque||90kW @ 6300rpm, 151Nm @ 4850rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||7.2L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||7.3L/100km|
|Boot volume||355L rear seats up, 903L when folded|
|Servicing costs||5 years, 75,000km for $1575|
|Main competitors||Mazda CX-3, Suzuki Ignis, Nissan Juke, Ford Puma|
|ANCAP safety rating||4 stars, tested 2019|
|Towing capacity||800kg braked, 500kg unbraked|
The 8.0-inch touchscreen is basic but mercifully easy to use. I spent most of my time using Apple CarPlay, which can take more than a few seconds to kick in once you plug your phone in, but works well once it’s up and running.
When you’re on two-lane roads, the Venue’s blind-spot monitor can come in handy, but be aware it’s on the cautious (and loud!) side, and can make you feel like you’re going to merge into a car that’s actually several metres away. Better safe than sorry, though!
On potholed, pockmarked, tram-tracked suburban streets, the ride quality is, at best, unremarkable. It’s definitely more protected from irregularities than, say, a hatchback, but if you want to feel like you’re coasting over the road like you would in a larger SUV, you’ll be disappointed.
In particular, I have a very poorly maintained main road near my house, and driving along it at speeds of between 50km and 60km/h can elicit jarring steering wheel feedback and harsher bumps that prompt rattling sounds and sensations in the cabin.
Additionally, when you’re constantly starting and stopping in peak-hour traffic, I found the transmission could prove a little jumpy, meaning I felt like the car would jump forward with even mild pedal input. This throttle sensitivity feels even more heightened when you're in reverse.
It makes for a punchier experience at higher speeds, but could prove annoying during stop-start traffic or when maneuvering at lower speeds.
Finally, I have only had to fill up the Venue at a petrol station three times during my almost three-month stint with it, and each visit has cost me around $50 for a tank of 91RON.
Obviously, I haven’t driven it every day or very far (I’ve had other review cars and haven’t been able to drive as much in Melbourne’s lockdown), but I’d estimate semi-regular driving would mean a visit to the servo every two to three weeks.
When I was commuting a lot less, the fuel consumption figure climbed to 10.0L/100km, but once I was able to travel longer distances and spend more time behind the wheel, that quickly dropped to just 7.3L/100km – only 0.1L/100km more than Hyundai’s quoted combined figure.
All up, the easiest way to describe the Venue’s city credentials is in one word: Convenient.
It might not possess the fancy technology of some of its rivals, but it doesn’t really need to because it’s so easy to get in and go – the epitome of an affordable A-to-B car.
Despite several shortcomings, it appears Hyundai has crafted the ideal daily driver for the anti-enthusiast who is simply sick of parallel parking in city streets.
And that’s possibly a bigger market than any of us realise.
Next up, Susannah takes a look at how the Venue’s size works for families, and how comfortable and practical it’s proven to be over the course of a longer loan.