India's first connected car, well, that is what precisely what all of us have been hearing about the all-new Hyundai Venue SUV ever since we got to know about it. However, beyond its connectivity features, there is a lot more to the car that Hyundai is offering on the Venue with the help of which it aims to disrupt the segment. And that includes the way it drives, the way it looks, how it feels to drive and of course, the features it offers. Well, that's exactly what I aimed at finding out in the beautiful state of Assam around Guwahati by evaluating how the Hyundai Venue scores in real-world conditions. Read on to find out!
Car buying is quite an emotional decision in India, so striking the right chords is quite important for any car manufacturer when it comes to appealing to the consumer and that means that the design has to resonate well with the consumer. The moment you lay your eyes upon the Hyundai Venue, it is an absolutely fantastic vehicle to look at. It is unlike anything out there in the sub-compact SUV market. Up-front you see a big grille which comes with chrome elements that give it a premium feel. Apart from this, the party piece up-front is the headlamp cluster.
What you get here in the lower part is a good-looking LED DRL and the projector units inside it. In the upper part rests the turn-indicators. The sleek blinkers on the top and the integration of the headlamp in the lower part of the bumper is very different from what we are used to seeing on normal cars. The front bumper is sporty and has a lot of creases but despite being a busy design it does not look overdone.
The side profile of the Hyundai Venue gets a typical boxy silhouette which is a going to be liked by most people. The 16-inch alloy wheels look stunning and wear 215 section rubber. In addition, the Venue comes with a strong shoulder line along with roof-rails which add sportiness to the overall side profile. At the rear, there are smart looking tail-lamps. There is not much drama here as it gets a clean design with a strong line on the boot-lid. Overall, what you get is a great looking sub-compact SUV that despite being small looks desirable.
In terms of engine and gearbox options, Hyundai is offering quite a lot. What you get is a choice between three engine options. There are two petrol and one diesel engines on offer. There's the tried and tested 1.4-litre, U2 CRDi diesel engine and the 1.2-litre VTVT petrol engine. However, the star of the show is the brand-new 1.0-litre petrol engine. It is a turbocharged unit and it comes with an option of a 6-speed manual gearbox or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
First, let's talk about the 1.0-litre engine with the dual-clutch transmission. After driving it at length, we can tell you this is a gem of a combination. Now if you talk about the DCT unit, it is not as aggressive as you would find in the Volkswagen Polo, wherein you have the DSG. It is somewhere in the middle wherein it finds the right balance between performance and fuel-efficiency. And a result of this, despite the fact that I was belting the car all through the way we got an average fuel-efficiency 9.4 km/l. Mind you, this is when we were driving the car frequently in the manual mode and changing the gears way above the 5,000 rpm mark. So, if you were to drive it in normal mode, you can expect the fuel-efficiency to be closer to 12 to 13 km/l at a fast pace.
In terms of engine performance, the engine is very smooth. It is a refined unit with the NVH (Noise Vibration and Harshness) levels being quite low. The motor is quite smooth so in terms of the noise or vibrations, there is not much intrusion into the cabin. In terms of power, you always have the required punch wherever you need it, so overtaking on the highway, especially the long-trailers, will never be an issue at all.
Even when you want to go ahead and have some fun while driving it, this 1.0-litre turbocharged unit is going to keep you happy as there is a significant amount of power that can be extracted from the engine. The power delivery of this engine is quite nice. In terms of drivability, this motor is quite nice. The pairing between the transmission and the engine is quite nice that means when you are in traffic or on the highway you will not be bothered at all, hence, resulting in an effortless driving experience.
Now one area where the Venue has emerged as a surprise package is the ride and handling. Hyundai India has not been known to make sporty cars. However, things started improving with the new Verna and the Venue just shows the kind of improvement the company has made. So, after driving this car around Guwahati on some winding roads, I found its performance to be quite impressive. Due to its short wheelbase, the car feels nimble and tight around the corners. The relatively less body-roll, coupled with the 1.0-litre turbo engine and the DCT makes the Venue a fun package to drive. That said, it is still not a car for the hardcore enthusiast. However, if you want a complete package i.e. practicality, features, good fuel-efficiency along with a fun-to-drive vehicle, then the Hyundai Venue is a great pick.
In terms of interiors let's start off with the dashboard and the design of the same is quite a pleasing sight. It comes with a nice texture on the top half and has a good touch and feel. The lower part of the dashboard does not feel as premium as the top, however, it does not feel outright bad or out of place. Hence, in terms of material quality, the levels live up to the expectations.
The 8-inch touchscreen is a good looking screen and has good touch response. The user interface is simple and it comes with all connectivity features you can think of or you would expect in this segment, for instance, Android Auto, Apple Car Play, Bluetooth connectivity and more. The highlight here is the Blue Link technology, which through an embedded e-SIM (Vodafone Idea) gives you access to many India-first connectivity features. Using your smartphone now you can start/stop your car, switch on the AC, track your stolen car, call for RSA or emergency assistance at the press of a button. One can also set alerts related to speed or geo-fencing alerts to ensure the vehicle usage is as desired. Now such services need constant connectivity and use data, which is chargeable but worry not as Hyundai is offering the complimentary three-year subscription for Venue buyers. The video below explains in detail what all new possibilities this system opens up for you.
One good thing that we noticed about the infotainment system, is the way the graphics are shown. Now if you are approaching a flyover, in order to avoid confusion on as to which direction should one take, Venue's system gives you a clear graphic representation of what route to take and that makes it so much easier for the driver.
The steering wheel of the Hyundai Venue feels quite nice to hold. It gets all the required controls and they are easily accessible. The instrument cluster has an ergonomic design and is easily readable under any circumstances. The controls for the air-con module gets circular a circular design. The lower part of the central console comes with a 12V socket and two USB points of which one supports fast charging. In addition to this, there is wireless charging on offer as well. Hence, you can keep multiple devices charged on the go.
In terms of comfort, the seats are quite nice and they offer adequate side support so even if you are going fast around the corners, the seats will offer you firmly in place. Furthermore, since the seats offer good cushioning, the comfort level is going to be high on long journeys. One other good thing in the cabin is the air-purifier which ensures even if the outside environment is polluted, the occupants inside the Venue will be breathing clear air.
The rear bench, in its overall size, is quite nice and is wide enough to seat three people for a short while. The central tunnel does not intrude too much and hence it is going to offer a somewhat comfortable experience for the third occupant. However, that would only be for a short period as the seat is best suited for two. Rear legroom should suffice for most people but is not the segment's best. Headroom is adequate and should be fine even for six-feet tall people. The seat backrest angle is quite nice and hence is going to keep you comfortable over long journeys. Talking about the overall visibility, considering the fact that there is a sunroof on offer as well on the top-spec variants, the feeling of space is nice, it does not feel claustrophobic.
In terms of overall value for money, the Venue is the new king of the sub-compact SUVs because if you look at the price range, which starts from Rs 6.50 lakh and go right up till Rs 11.10 lakh for the turbo petrol variant, you get a lot of kit for the money along with a nice looking vehicle. The car also introduces never before connectivity features in the market that will translate in improved convenience and safety for consumers. Hence, in terms of overall appeal, it sets a new benchmark in terms of design and that's why it is the best sub-compact SUV to buy in the market right now.
This clearly means that after a long time there's a sub-compact SUV that seems strong enough to worry the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza. The Brezza ever since its introduction has been the top seller and no other car has bothered it in all these years. The Hyundai Venue though with its new features, unique design, killer prices and excellent value-for-money might just be the vehicle that breaks the shackles of Brezza on the Indian Sub-compact SUV segment.