Car review: New Hyundai Venue

Hyundai is back into the driving seat. The Venue is pressed for space, especially rear seats. But its tech-loaded cabin makes it a cool ‘venue’ to spend your time in. It also gives Hyundai the muscle to stay ahead of Tata Motors in monthly sales

The Venue is an offbeat name for a sport utility vehicle (SUV).According to Hyundai, “the Venue, with inbuilt mobile connectivity features, is a place where the occupant can stay in touch with friends, family and office.

”But I can use my phone for that, why do I need a connected car? Driving the new Venue in Hyderabad, we learn that some connectivity tasks are better performed by a ‘connected car’ than by a person driving and using a mobile phone.

How new is the new Venue?
—The new front grille (design cues from global range of Hyundai cars) makes the SUV look vastly different from the previous version.

—Tail lamps are connected by a thin horizontal line, making it look like a bit of a Sonet and a bit of a Taigun. The horizontal line also makes the new Venue look wider than it actually is.

—The side profile is the same as the previous version, barring new design of alloy wheels.

—The previous version had an all-black cabin; the new Venue has two-tone colours (black and ‘greige’).

—The rear seatback can be marginally reclined (making the cramped rear seat more comfortable).

—The car gets 60 connectivity features with over-the-air software updates.

—Engines are the same: 1.2-litre petrol (83 PS; 5-speed manual gearbox), 1.5-litre diesel (100 PS; 6-speed manual gearbox) and the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol (120 PS; 6-speed iMT and 7-speed DCT gearboxes).

How does it drive?
1.2-litre petrol: It’s just the right engine for urban driving and relaxed highway driving. The only challenge you might face is overtaking a long vehicle on a highway at speeds above 100 km/h, where it takes a second or two longer than the turbocharged petrol engine.

While Hyundai didn’t share its fuel efficiency, it returns around 15 km/litre in mixed driving conditions.1.5-litre diesel: The high torque of the engine and the Venue’s light weight (about 1,100 kg) is a winning combo.

It is fuel efficient (above 20 km/litre) and feels powerful even at low RPM.1.0-litre turbo-petrol: This small engine is a monster, and shoots the car ahead as soon as you press the accelerator.

Driven at low RPM, this engine is fuel efficient (it returned me about 18 km/litre), but go hard on acceleration and the fuel efficiency drops to about 10 km/litre. It gets two gearbox options: dual clutch transmission (DCT) and Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT).

What is the iMT gearbox?
From a user point of view, it is hard to describe whether the iMT is an automatic gearbox or a manual. Technically, iMT is a manual gearbox (it has gears and a gear lever that looks just like a manual gear lever). But the drive experience is more like an automatic car (iMT doesn’t have a clutch, but has a brake and an accelerator pedal).

Yet it’s not entirely automatic, because the driver has to manually shift gears. You see, technology can confuse you at times.

How ‘connected’ is the new Venue?
—I downloaded the blueLink app and connected my phone to the car. Then, before getting inside, I switched on the AC via the blueLink app to let the cabin cool.

—Once on the driver’s seat, I said: “Hello blue link, take me to Ramoji film city,” and a live traffic map appeared on the screen and navigation started.

—While driving, I was able to make and receive phone calls using voice commands (without taking my hands off the steering wheel).

—Driving towards Hyderabad airport, I asked the car to find a biryani shop and it showed 20 options alongside the road.These are four connectivity feature examples; the Venue has more than 60 such features.

Thoughtful touches
All major driving control buttons are on the right side, as most people are right-handed and in India the driver sits on the right side of the car. Buttons that can be used by the passenger, like for climate control, are on the middle of the dashboard.

Is it a good buy?
The previous Venue had its flaws (like a cramped rear seat and boring exterior design). In the new Venue, Hyundai has rectified these. Its price (Rs 7.53-12.57 lakh for the petrol and Rs 9.99-12.32 lakh for the diesel) is also competitive.

Unlike Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, the Venue is available in both petrol and diesel and has four gearbox options (most others offer two).At the same time, the features that set the Venue apart—blueLink connectivity, air purifier, wireless phone charger, HD touchscreen, burglar alarm, smart key—are available only in its top-end, more expensive variants.

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