There was a time when the Hyundai i30 hatchbacks were bought by clever customers, who knew that excellent value and design was to be had with these Korean cars, at fair prices.
But the reality is that market trends change and over time there are unfortunate victims. In the South African context, that has been Hyundai's i30 hatchback business.
Hyundai Venue delivers on crossover demand
Although the Korean company still retails its smaller hatchbacks in South Africa, customers no longer have option on Hyundai's broad global offering. That is a shame, but there are some very credible substitute products which have taken their place.
Customers demand crossovers and Hyundai is in no shortage of supply. The most notable of these is Hyundai's Venue Limited Edition. It is a compact front-wheel drive crossover and finished in a contrasting blue and white colourway.
Building the Venue brand image
Hyundai has achieved notable success with its Venue, since launching it to South African customers in 2019. For those seeking some individualisation, this Limited Edition variant will have inarguable appeal.
Beyond those bolder design elements, the core package ensures a very competent compact crossover vehicle. It is 5mm short of 4m in length and that makes for easily manageable dimensions when navigating a trafficked highway or narrow city streets.
Although the Venue's steering feels quite lifeless, as is the case with many modern electrically assisted systems, it is very light. That makes parking is an absolute doodle.
Under the hood
Like all other Venues, this Limited Edition is powered by a turbocharged 1-litre three-cylinder engine. It might be small in capacity but does not lack for power. With outputs of 88kW and 172Nm the Venue never feels lazy.
Much of its driving fizz can be credited to the interplay between that 1-litre turbocharged engine and Hyundai's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Small-capacity engines with generously potent turbochargers can be annoying to drive when paired to a manual transmission, as they do suffer from inertia lag at extremely low engine speeds.
Hyundai's engineers have done a great job of coordinating the engine's power delivery and its dual-clutch transmission's self-shifting behaviour. The result is a compact crossover that feels lively to drive and responsive to throttle inputs.
General cabin architecture and ergonomics are good, with some cheer added by the Limited Edition's denim-type fabric finish. It also lists glovebox cooling and ventilation ducts for the rear passengers as standard features, both of which are appreciated on those long Karoo road trips, when beverages need to be kept chilled — and passengers kept cool.
The reality of car ownership in 2020 is that smartphone compatibility has become a crucial consideration and Hyundai's infotainment system pairs with wonderful ease.
Its eight-inch touchscreen has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality which opens the opportunity for app-based navigation, streaming media and voice-prompted search. I am a relative technophobe and found the Venue's infotainment system convenient and pleasantly intuitive to use.
Touch more ride height for gravel travel
Despite its cheeky stance, the Venue remains a conventional front-wheel drive car with a touch more ride height. It is most certainly not a rugged all-terrain vehicle, but those 215/60 tyres do roll over gravel with the required confidence.
With 195mm of ground clearance, the Venue should allow you to explore farm roads without much bother and I found its gravel surface handling entirely commendable, although the suspension can noisily thump through on larger bumps.
Priced at R385 900, the Venue Limited Edition is positioned below that crucial R400 000 threshold and offers Korean build quality with some distinctive design flair.