In a market place that remains under pressure, where cars are not really selling as they should, the Hyundai Venue comes like a beacon in the fog. The subcompact SUV has already garnered over 20,000 bookings and the juggernaut looks set to roll on. The reason for the popularity, says Hyundai, is the segment itself - which already accounts for 47 per cent of all SUV sales, and is set to go past 50 per cent in a year or two. Hyundai also makes a bold claim of wanting to gain market leadership in this space - which means it needs to take on the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, besides also competing with the Mahindra XUV300, Ford EcoSport and Tata Nexon. So then, it had better bring it, isn't it? For the most part - it has. The Hyundai Venue is a welcome addition to the subcompact SUV space, and establishes some key benchmarks, that will be crucial for the buyer in the segment, besides raising the bar for its rivals. Read on.
The big USPs right up front - the Hyundai Venue is India's first connected car with the company's BlueLink offering. It also brings Hyundai's first GDI turbo petrol engine and first DCT auto to India. So that is why the first thing I have done is opt for a car with all those traits, dressed in Lava Orange (though it looks more reddish than orange frankly). The cabin has options of all-black, khaki two-tone and denim-blue two-tone. I have the black. The car comes across as better built and offering superior material quality to even the big sister Creta.
The cabin uses a good mix of metal finished plastics to give it a chunky look. The floating touchscreen could have been a tad bigger, but really does the job. The standout new features are the 8-inch screen with its many connectivity options, and the BlueLink related shortcut buttons positioned on the rear view mirror. That may be convenient but you also tend to hit those buttons inadvertently while adjusting the day/night option on the mirror - so be warned. And the cabin will not feel as roomy or airy as the Vitara Brezza's.
The Venue feels like a small car on the inside - more hatch-like than SUV. Though the seats are pretty comfy. The rear seat is reasonably roomy as the segment goes, but the rear does come across as a tad cramped in the all-black treatment. The mid and upward trims do get rear AC vents and the legroom is decent too. The sticking point for me here is that the middle passenger gets a lap belt only - three-point seatbelts for all passengers should now increasingly become the norm frankly.
Also Read: Hyundai Venue Features Explained
The design is modern, and there is plenty of sculpting in the metal to make it look robust and muscular. The face is Hyundai's new Sensuous Sportiness design language - with its slim lighting elements and extra wide cascade grille. I had been lucky to have seen a very early design mock-up of the Venue and the grille was meant to have been a shiny chrome finish. Thankfully that has been toned down and looks quite nice actually.
Also Read: Hyundai Venue Exterior Explained
Overall, the finish and quality are good, and make the car appear as more high-end than this segment is used to. The DRLs are in a square headlamp surround motif - very unusual, and sadly the yellow headlamps jar a bit - xenons or white halogens may have looked nicer. The fog lights are a bit plain and seem like an afterthought though. The taillights - in my opinion could have been sexier, though Hyundai's calling them segment-first lenticular LEDs - something about lens-like depth in the light signature at night. Yes lenticular - a new word for me too. The sunroof is a nice touch - though one that wasn't necessary!
Also Read: Hyundai Venue Engine Options Explained
I will get to BlueLink in a bit, first the new engine, yes? The 1.0 GDI turbo petrol is a bigger deal for me. The fact that it is also accompanied by the 7-Speed DCT (dual-clutch transmission) is also exciting. But the first thing that strikes you about the new Venue is how much better its steering is. Sharper, more precise and without the loose, hollow feel of past Hyundai steerings.
They're getting better with each car I think, and on the Venue it is really good. The second thing that hits you is how fun the little turbocharged motor is. I am driving the Hyundai Venue from Guwahati to the outskirts of Shillong on a new smooth 4-lane expressway. The car is up to the task. There are three of us in here, and the GDI engine will do the job ably well. There is one niggle however - between 1000 and 3000 rpm, the engine does suffer some lag, and couple that with a slower than expected downshift (especially when you need it quickly and slam the throttle) - and the 1.0 Venue does hesitate a bit. But push it past 3000 rpm and the engine begins to sing. The front suspension setup is also good, while not quite as stiff as I would have liked. It still gives you a quick front end and you can zip the car in and out of twisties with ease. The car does feel a bit light on its wheels though, and so the lack of heft means high speed cornering isn't as confident as you'd like. That's a bane of the segment, though the XUV300 manages this much better owing to its bigger platform. And despite the lower overall height of the Venue, there is some body roll - very surprising.
The gearbox is also quick enough except for the bit I mentioned. And if you build speed gradually rather than revving hard, it will respond to the engine even better. The bias towards fuel efficiency has cost Hyundai some sportiness I fear, but the compromise isn't severe or one that bothers me too much. The claimed mileage figure is 18.27 kmpl. On the petrol 1.2 Kappa spec it is 17.5 kmpl, while on the diesel it is a robust 23.7 kmpl. Speaking of the diesel that was the next variant of the Hyundai Venue I am getting my hands on. This time the car is finished in Polar White, and this is the SX(O) variant - a notch higher than the DCT variant that is only available as S or SX.
Also Read: Hyundai Venue Variants Explained
Hyundai appears to have done this for pricing reasons, but that is also why only the DCT SX variant gets BlueLink, the sunroof, push button start stop and wireless phone charging. Otherwise those things only live in the SX(O) on all other drivetrain options. The dual airbags, ABS and EBD and ISOFIX child seat mounts are standard across all variants, though the side and curtain airbags only come on the SX(O). We have no crash test results on this car as yet - but it does meet India's new crash norms for frontal 56 kmph offset crashes and basic pedestrian safety.
Hyundai Venue Engine Specification
|Displacement||1.2-Litre / 1.0-Litre Turbo||1.4-litre|
|Max Power||82 bhp / 118 bhp||89 bhp|
|Peak Torque||114 Nm / 172 Nm||220 Nm|
|Transmission||5-Speed MT / 6 Speed MT , 7-Speed DCT||6 Speed MT|
If the new turbo petrol is the fun engine in the pack, the diesel is also quite agile. The extra torque is apparent - though interestingly the car does not come across as heavier. Sometimes you want that from the diesel, but the driving character on both variants is largely similar - barring the torque of course. The diesel will undoubtedly be the higher selling variant at the start at least, but expect this to transition to the 1.5 diesel when BS6 becomes mandatory next year. That 1.5 turbo diesel will likely be used across the range for most Hyundai models, as well as like models from Kia. At that time the 1.2 Kappa petrol may also bow out from the Venue portfolio - though we will have to wait and see what the market response is to the two petrols before any final decisions are made.
The Hyundai Venue gets Bluelink which comes with 33 features out of which 10 are India specific
Okay so here is the dope on blueLink now. The idea is very good - telematics and connectivity to offer you a suite of services and options - 33 to be exact - of which 10 are India specific ones - so over and above what other market Venues will get. The car has an embedded simcard courtesy a tie up with Vodafone-Idea. And the data subscription is free for the first 3 years - coinciding with the unlimited kilometres warranty and roadside assistance. BlueLink has three broad interfaces - the buttons on the mirror that I talked about, the touchscreen or voice commands in the car's infotainment system or access through the BlueLink app on your smartphone. Through this you can get emergency response in case of an accident, ask a call centre for help, for points of interest or general navigation/destination guidance, geo fence your car's driving limits, check the car's status (as well as start it, lock/unlock it, start the climate control, etc.) remotely, and even plan journeys and send the route to the car's nav ahead of setting off. I tried all but the emergency response service - and had a mixed experience.
The remote feature where the smartphone becomes a remote control for the car is pretty fun. The caveat is that it sometimes takes a while for the messages you send to the car to get to the server, and then to the vehicle. That depends on network.. That depends on network. The same holds true for basement parking situations where neither your car nor your phone may have network. In my experience in the remote hills outside Shillong in Meghalaya the car took about 35-40 seconds to respond at times (lock/unlock, engine start or stop) while back in Guwahati it took around 10 seconds. So that is indefinite and dependent on network strengths. But when it works, it's convenient and fun. You can lock a car you may have forgotten to, check its status - to see if you did forget for instance, or how much driving range it has, and whether you need to factor in a fuel stop on your drive home, etc.
The call centre was a whole different story. I tried to call the BlueLink service three times in the morning, four times in the afternoon and again 5 times in the evening. No one answered. Hyundai says its teething trouble and will soon run smoothly. I sure hope so. Some other journalist colleagues like Motorscribes' Vikram Gour said they got through in one attempt and even received maps from the executive they spoke to. So it may well be luck of the draw. In theory a connected car is a great thing - especially when it can send panic messages or accident alerts to emergency response services, allow you to immobilize a stolen car or of course increase your comfort and convenience. And as data gets better across India, this will only improve. So with cars like the Hyundai venue and MG Hector beginning this revolution, expect a flood of eSim embedded cars in the immediate future.
So on the whole the Hyundai Venue is a well designed, smart urban SUV that will tick many boxes and offer great value. The prices are very attractive and that also helps explain the bookings Hyundai is getting. But it is not its prices, but rather for its tech benchmarks, modern styling and build quality, decent ride and handing, comfort and abundant drivetrain options - that the Venue really comes across as a winner. The dual tone is available on three body colours - the white and orange get a black roof option, while the blue gets a white roof option. And there are 7 colours to choose from.
|Petrol||Introductory Prices (ex-showroom India)|
|1.2L E MT||Rs 6.50 lakh|
|1.2L S MT||Rs 7.20 lakh|
|1.0L S MT||Rs 8.21 lakh|
|1.0L SX MT||Rs 9.54 lakh|
|1.0L SX MT Dual Tone||Rs 9.69 lakh|
|1.0L SX (O)||Rs 10.60 lakh|
|1.0L S DCT||Rs 9.35 lakh|
|1.0L SX+ DCT||Rs 11.11 lakh|
|1.4L E MT||Rs 7.75 lakh|
|1.4L S MT||Rs 8.45 lakh|
|1.4L SX MT||Rs 9.78 lakh|
|1.4L SX Dual Tone||Rs 9.93 lakh|
|1.4L SX (O) MT||Rs 10.84 lakh|