The burgeoning compact SUV segment in India in recent years has got a lot of manufacturers eyeing a share of this segment. Hyundai has been lacking a product in their portfolio to challenge this segment, not anymore. The recently launched Venue seems to be a very promising prospect, but the proof of the pie is in eating it. We got a chance to spend a day with Hyundai’s new offering, and had a field day.
Design – Cliched as it may sound but it’s hard to not draw comparison with its elder sibling, and a quick glance makes one wonder if it’s a shrunken Creta. Venue takes on the likes of established rivals like the Maruti Brezza, Tata Nexon, Mahindra XUV300 and Ford Ecosport.
Hyundai has given a tasteful treatment to the front-end with the cascade grille and a massive logo in the centre, which bears a strong resemblance to the Santa Fe. Venue looks bright in the newly introduced Lava Orange paint. Other 6 options are Polar White, Typhoon Silver, Fiery Red, Denim Blue (New), Stardust and Deep Forest (New).
Split headlamps seem to be the flavour of the day and Venue doesn’t miss out on that. Projector headlamps with cornering lamps are enveloped by the DRL, while the sleek looking stand alone turn indicators are neatly encased along the lower bonnet lip. Flared wheel arches, sharp creases, and the cross-over styled body cladding gives Venue a cross over look. 16″ Diamond cut alloy wheels add to the visual appeal. Rear design is relatively simple and the tail lamps look terrific.
Interiors – Stepping inside, you are greeted with a simplistic yet functional design complemented good fit and finish. The 8″ floating HD touchscreen display gets your attention and so does the slightly over-buttoned steering wheel.
Hyundai’s Bluelink technology debuts on the Venue and comprises of 33 features, which revolve around Safety, Security, Remote, AI and Efficiency. Bluelink is a ground breaking umbrella of tech, and best in class for the compact SUV, segment. It makes use of an embedded sim (e-sim) and free 3-year subscription to all services.
Another feature that is top notch is the air purifier, which occupies one of the twin cup holders in the SX (O) trim. Different colours light up atop the purifier based on Air Quality Index. Our test car came with in Black single tone interiors with a combination of fabric and leather for the seats. Owners can also opt for Khaki Dual tone theme or Denim Dual tone themes.
Cabin of the venue feels cozy, perhaps an option of beige dual tone interior could have helped in upping the roominess quotient. Rear passenger space is strictly adequate but not cramped by any measure. Though the central headrest is missing, a third passenger could be squeezed in, and the rear AC vents with a near flat floor helps.
Hyundais are known to be feature rich and the Venue is no different. Wireless charging, Sunroof, cooled glove box, remote engine and AC start, and plenty of storage spaces apart, Venue is brimming with creature comforts. Let’s not forget the well tuned and great sounding 6 speaker audio system – Hyundai has really upped its game in this quarter.
Engines – Amongst the 3 engine options on offer, the new kid on the block happens to be the 3 cylinder 1 litre turbocharged GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) unit, which is good for 120hp and 172Nm. The tried and trusted 1.4l Diesel from Verna/Creta, and the 1.2l Petrol are the other two options.
A 7 speed DCT is also on offer paired with the GDI unit. The GDI to Hyundai is what the EcoBoost is for Ford and Boosterjet to Suzuki. The GDI unit is mated to a 6 speed Manual transmission. This GDI output figure closely matches that on Ford’s EcoBoost unit. A healthy dose of throttle input is vital to extract the best out of the engine, and it pairs well with the new 7 speed DCT.
In the Automatic trim, Venue skips on paddle shifters and Sport mode but does have a Manual mode with auto up-shift on redline. While the 6 speed Manual transmission has a positive shift feel, it highlights the GDI unit’s lacklustre performance. Turbo lag at tickover is a bit prominent but once the turbo spools up past 1800 rpm there isn’t any peaky surge either.
Venue is quite brisk and enjoyable to drive if you have the 1.4 Diesel under its hood. While the U2 CRDi has modest output of 90hp, it’s 220Nm torque with well matched gear ratios and the slick transmission gives it a very good driveability. 1.2l petrol powered Venue was not available to drive so we’ll reserve our judgement on that.
Drive and Handling – Power figures of the new turbo petrol engine had us wide-eyed, and we were expecting a peppy fun to drive compact SUV. Under real world use with a good mix of city, highway and lots of winding sections somewhat displaces preconceived notions. The 1 litre unit is thrummy, and pretty refined with hardly any vibes that are usually associated with a 3 cylinder motor. It in-fact, also sounds pleasant at higher revs and has a hint of audible sportiness too.
If driven sedately, the unit delivers pleasing performance but not exactly what the numbers may lead you in to thinking. The initial turbo lag is a wee bit annoying at times, especially while negotiating steep gradients at low speeds. The 6 speed MT has closely matched ratios and delivers decent driveability. Things improve when we switched to the DCT, which makes the Venue feel brisk thanks to the quick shifting box.
Our pick of the lot remains the 1.4 Diesel, which transforms the Venue into a fun to drive vehicle. With loads of torque and a linear power delivery, the 1.4 units whisks you to triple digit speed without much fuss and sits at around 2000 rpm at 100 kph. If long drives are your regular affair, choosing the diesel Venue is a no-brainer. The 6 speed MT on the diesel feels slightly more positive to operate than the one on the GDI unit.
Having driven the Venue on the Guwahati-Shillong route, we got a substantial taste of its highway manners and handling prowess too. Never expected the Venue to be a corner carver, but it did surprise us with the steering feedback.
The steering weighs up nicely as speeds build, and remains effortless at parking speeds, so much so, it’s safe to say that this is by far the best steering setup on a small Hyundai product. With 215/60 R16 wheels and its suspension setup, Venue delivers mature ride quality, which is a good mix of comfort and sharpness. Ofcourse it rolls into corners but thats not what most owners will subject the car to.
Summing up – Hyundai has surprised competition and pleased buyers with its aggressive pricing. Offered in 4 trim levels (E, SX, SX+ and SX O) and a choice of 3 engine options, Venue packs in several not only segment first, but also industry first features. Starting with Rs 6.5L for the base E trim 1.2L Manual Petrol to the Rs 11.11L for the top of the line Turbo Petrol with DCT, there are plenty of options to suit everyone’s budget. Presumably to keep costs in check, a Diesel automatic is missing altogether.
With a host of safety and convenience features like 6 airbags, embedded internet connectivity, cabin air purifier and cruise control amongst many other features, the Venue is well endowed. It’s a serious threat to competition, and overall, an excellent value for money proposition. Even if we have to absolutely be nitpicking, the only shortcomings we see after first drive are the not so thrilling Turbo petrol engine, the rear occupant legroom, a missing Diesel automatic option, and finally, a fully loaded Petrol variant – and none of these are deal breakers.
Hyundai has immense confidence in this product and they are aiming at 10k units per month. Hyundai has made it clear that with the Venue, they want to become No 1 in the compact SUV segment. This means, toppling Maruti Brezza from the perch, which it has occupied ever since it was launched. Is that possible? Venue definitely has the goods to offer stiff competition.
Disclaimer – For this review, Hyundai invited and hosted us at Guwahati / Shillong. Paid for our travel, stay, and food.