BREAKING THE BOARD-OM

WE DRIVE ’EM LIKE WE OWN ’EM

CAMERON KIRBY

Garage

VENUE RUSHES IN TO GET KIRBY OUT OF A TIGHT SPOT

I FELT LIKE I’d just won the lottery on Christmas morning. I even refreshed the web page a few times, just to be sure, but there it was in black and white: Victorian residents were now permitted to have five guests in their house as part of the first round of loosening social distancing restrictions.

At that point, I hadn’t seen my friends for two months. Usually, I’d see them every week or so to play niche board games, drink copious quantities of wine, and then argue about the complex rules of niche board games.

Problem is, my personal stocks of wine and new niche board games were running low. A trip for both was needed. Thankfully, I had just become the custodian of Wheels’ newest longtermer – this eye-searing Venue Elite – and it seemed perfectly suited to my unique demands.

One of the Venue’s greatest strengths so far has been its manoeuvrability. It’s only a smidge over 4.0-metres long and has a 10.2m turning circle, which combine to make this little SUV an absolute champion when attempting a challenging reverse parallel park.

The only thing to be mindful of is an over-eager throttle calibration in reverse, but so far, that’s been the Venue’s only tight-quarters foible.

Another surprise has been the ride. Our Venue is the range-topping variant and I expected its larger 17-inch wheels and 205/55 tyres to add a harsher edge to the ride (lesser Venues roll on 15-inch hoops), but it has actually been unexpectedly comfortable. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it plush – but for the price tag it’s certainly one of the better riding small SUVs getting around.

Limited travel has meant the only other task the Venue has been called upon is to ferry my canine offsider to the dog park.

Problem is, my dog is about the same size as a small horse, making boot space a valuable commodity. On paper, the Venue stacks up nicely. Its 355 litres is significantly more than you get in a Mazda CX-3, plus it has a two stage floor system which frees up more room when you need it. There’s also a brilliant design feature that allows the boot’s parcel shelf to be slid out of the way to stand behind the rear seats. Despite all this, however, my leggy hound still doesn’t fit, so it’s back-seat duties for him. Clever packaging can only achieve so much, after all.

With the new guidelines now permitting recreational driving in Victoria, I’ve already started planning a day-trip to visit one of the state’s smallest big things, in one of the smallest SUVs you can buy. This will give me the opportunity to see how the Venue fares when removed from its inner-city comfort zone. NVH has been impressive so far, so I’m optimistic about its grand tourer abilities.

CAMERON KIRBY

REPORT TWO

HYUNDAI VENUE ELITE

Price as tested: $25,940

This month: 367km @ 10.7L/100km