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Driven: Hyundai’s Venue pulls double duty

All-new Venue combines characteristics of light cars and small SUVs together: Hyundai

20 Sep 2019

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) says its all-new Venue small SUV plays two key roles, one of which is as the spiritual – but not direct – successor to the discontinued Accent light car, which will not have its sales volume entirely replaced by the miniature crossover.


Speaking to journalists this week at the Venue national media launch in Ocean View, Queensland, HMCA coordinating director of product planning Scott Yoon said the new model “isn’t an Accent replacement”, adding that “it was never intended to be one.”


“Instead, it’s the best of both worlds for potential customers who are looking for a newer, safer model than what’s available in the light-passenger-car market and also for those who want a smaller SUV with a stronger value proposition,” he said.


HMCA director of marketing Bill Thomas elaborated, saying that “the Venue is currently a unique proposition in the Australian market” due to it having the characteristics of a light car and a small SUV, namely low upfront and running costs as well as increased ride height and practicality.


“We therefore see Venue appealing to a broad range of buyers,” he said.


These include middle-aged couples (40-60 years old) who are professionals and either empty-nesters or have no children; young singles (20-30 years old) who are typically females with no children that are either students or in their first serious jobs; and young couples (25-40 years old) who are professionals without children that are planning a family.


“We actually carried out probably the biggest research project we’ve even done at Hyundai, on this particular car, just to make sure we understood the appeal and different target groups,” Mr Thomas said.


He added that 14 customer clinics were conducted with rival models, where the Venue and its pricing were met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from potential buyers, making it “the ideal entry point”.


HMCA chief executive officer JW Lee reiterated that the Accent is currently not planned to return in fifth-generation form locally due to the ongoing weakness of the Australian dollar preventing HMCA from achieving pricing in line with the previous model.


Other options include the European-focused i10 micro and i20 light hatches, but he said they are impacted by the same issue in addition to the lack of production out of South Korea.


With fourth-generation Accent production having now ceased, HMCA has around 1500 examples left in stock, which should last until about the end of this year.


Sales-wise, Mr Lee was adamant that the Venue will not be able to produce the same 15,000-unit-plus annual volumes that the Accent did at its peak, partly due to the latter’s fleet success, but was not willing to disclose specific targets.


He did, however, suggest that there will be cannibalisation “to a certain extent” between the Venue and the one-size-larger Kona, which competes in the same small-SUV segment.


The Venue is available across three full-time grades, with the entry-level Go priced from $19,990 plus on-road costs with a six-speed manual, while a six-speed torque-converter automatic costs $2000, making it “the perfect fit for the budget-conscious customer”, according to Mr Yoon, even though it is at least $4500 dearer than the Accent.


However, Mr Lee told GoAuto that HMCA will not target sub-$20,000 driveaway pricing in the future in an attempt to align the Venue more closely with the Accent.


Described by Mr Yoon as “the sweet spot for customers looking for the optimal balance between value and features”, the mid-range Active is offered with both transmissions and commands a $1500 premium, while the flagship Elite only comes with the two-pedal set-up and checks in at $25,490.


Limited to just 100 units, a Launch Edition temporarily sits atop the Venue line-up. It costs $500 more than the Elite but adds a power-operated sunroof and the choice of two exclusive paintwork options (Exotic Green and Lava Orange).


The rest of the Venue range is available with Phantom Black, Intense Blue, The Denim, Cosmic Grey, Fiery Red and Typhoon Silver hues, all of which cost $495, as does Elite-only Acid Yellow. Polar White is the only no-cost colour on offer.


All variants are motivated by a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 90kW of power at 6300rpm and 151Nm of torque at 4850rpm. Drive is exclusively sent to the front wheels.


Claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test is 7.0 and 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres for manual and automatic versions respectively, while carbon dioxide emissions are 160 and 165 grams per kilometre.


Mr Thomas said HMCA’s research indicated that prospective buyers associate the smaller-capacity engine with high fuel efficiency, although an even more frugal 1.0-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder unit is available in other markets but not out of the South Korean plant where Australian examples come from.


Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) global product manager for Venue Saikiran Nuli said the alternate engine found in Kia’s Picanto GT and Rio GT-Line could be introduced Down Under at a later stage if demand is established.


He added that the Venue will “probably not” have an N performance flagship in the future, although a cosmetically enhanced N-Line version is more likely, but both depend on the sales response to the regular model.


Standard equipment in the Go includes 15-inch steel wheels with a space-saver spare, dusk-sensing projector headlights, halogen daytime running lights (DRLs), roof rails and a grey rear skid plate.


Inside, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, Bluetooth connectivity, a four-speaker sound system, a 3.5-inch multi-function display, a 12V power outlet, black cloth upholstery and silver trim feature.


Advanced driver-assist systems extend to camera-based autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection (fully operational from 8-60km/h), lane-keep assist (60-180km/h), cruise control, a manual speed limiter, driver attention warning (up to 180km/h), high-beam assist (30km/h or above), tyre pressure monitoring, hill-start assist and a reversing camera plus six airbags.


The Active adds 15-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs, power-folding side mirrors with heating and LED repeaters, a six-speaker sound system, a front centre armrest with a storage bin, a leather-accented steering wheel and gear selector with contrast stitching and piping, and rear parking sensors.


The Elite also picks up 17-inch alloy wheels, LED tail-lights, a dark-chrome grille insert, rear privacy glass, a two-tone roof and side mirrors, satellite navigation with live traffic, single-zone climate control, a front USB port, cloth-trimmed seats with premium-finish bolsters (black, grey or Denim), blind-spot monitoring (30km/h or above), rear cross-traffic alert and cruise control.


Variants fitted with the automatic transmission also feature three drive modes (Normal, Eco and Sport) that tweak the powertrain’s settings, while a Traction Mode system allows the driver to adjust the calibration of the traction control system (TCS) to maximise grip in snow, mud or sand.


As with all of HMCA’s models, the Venue’s ride and handling has been tuned to suit Australian conditions, with particular attention paid to its rear torsion beam, with 41 different damper iterations evaluated before arriving at the production set-up.


Measuring 4040mm long, 1770mm wide and 1592mm tall with a 2520mm wheelbase, the 1140-1225kg Venue offers 355L of cargo capacity, but it can grow to 903L with its 60/40 split-fold rear bench stowed.


2019 Hyundai Venue pricing*

Go $19,990
Go (a) $21,990
Active $21,490
Active (a) $23,490
Elite (a) $25,490
Launch Edition (a) $25,990

*Excludes on-road costs

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