The smartphone has made our lives more efficient, and the Venue does the same on four wheels. There is no doubt it’s a path-breaking SUV, but the features that set the Venue apart (from every other car in India) are available only in its top-end, more expensive variants
First, the exciting part: The Hyundai Venue is the first car in India whose features you can control using an app on a smartphone—you can switch on the AC from a remote location, you can lock/unlock the car sitting in another part of the world. Now, the catch: These ‘connectivity’ features are available only in its top-end variants. After all, nice things in life usually cost money.
The Venue is the smallest SUV made by Hyundai, which is also the most modern. It’s India’s first OEM-made ‘connected car’. It’s not just a smart SUV, but is also equipped with all the comfort features customers in this segment could ever want. Nothing seems compromised. We drive it near Shillong in India’s north-east.
From the first look, the Venue stands out among all other subcompact SUVs in India. The rugged cascading grille and bumper command attention. The front and rear lamps are connected by a bold character line running across the body, and which sweeps over the generous wheel arches. On the sides, the shark-fin-type C-pillar gives it a unique appearance.
The cabin is not just ‘smart’, it’s practical, too. The eight-inch AVN screen seamlessly fits between AC vents, and AC controls are nested in a circular display under the screen—the more frequently used AC buttons are designed larger, and the less frequently ones smaller. The front passenger has a glove box and a useful open tray above it. In India’s hot weather conditions you need to drink a lot of water, and for that there are one-litre bottle-holders in every door. For the comfort of rear passengers, there are AC vents, charging points, and cup-holders on rear armrest. Rear seating space, however, is tight and tall passengers might feel uncomfortable during long journeys. Sound quality reproduced by Arkamys speakers is top-class.
The smartphone has made our lives more efficient, and the Venue does the same on four wheels. From before you get into the Venue to after you reach your destination, your entire driving experience has gotten easier. How? First, download the Hyundai blueLink app (Android and iOS), register yourself and connect it to the car. Then, as you plan to go somewhere, use the remote control on the app to start the engine and the AC (you can use it from anywhere as long as you have data connection and your car is at a place where there is data connectivity; the distance from the car doesn’t matter). You can even set cabin temperature from the app.
Once inside the car, using a phone is dangerous. If you want to go to a particular destination, use the voice-control feature by pressing a button on the steering wheel and ‘tell’ the Venue to take you there. In seconds, a live traffic map will appear on the screen, which will give you voice directions to your destination, so that you don’t take your eyes off the road. You can also make phone calls or search for parking or a coffee shop using your voice, or you can send your destination to the car before you get inside, and as you start, the maps will be ready.
If someone tries to steal your Venue, a notification will appear on the app, and if it gets stolen, you can track it in real time, contact the police, and use the vehicle immobilisation feature to stop the engine. In case your driver or someone else is driving it, you can track the vehicle in real time on the blueLink app.
There are three options: 1.2-litre petrol (82bhp; manual gearbox), 1.4-litre diesel (89bhp; manual gearbox) and the all-new 1.0-litre turbo petrol (118bhp; both manual and automatic gearbox).
While 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel are the same engines that also power the Elite i20, the 1.0-litre turbo petrol is new, and is a revelation. This small engine is both peppy and fuel-efficient (18.27kpl). As soon as you press the accelerator, it shoots the car ahead. While other subcompact SUVs, including Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and Tata Nexon, are equipped with AMT (automated manual transmission) gearbox, the Venue has dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which has two clutches. One clutch controls odd-numbered gears and the other controls even-numbered gears. This set-up allows the car to shift gears without interrupting power flow from the engine to the transmission, as happens in AMT, where the gear-shift lag is noticeable. But while the AMT gearbox is relatively inexpensive (about Rs 50,000 more than the manual), the DCT is a lakh rupees costlier than the manual. A good thing about the Venue is its ride and handling, which is outstanding.
The engine start-stop button is on the right side of the steering wheel, which is more convenient for right-hand drive vehicles, like in India. Also, all major driving control buttons are on the right side as most Indians are right-handed. Buttons that can be used by the passenger, like for climate control, are in the middle of the dashboard.
The smaller a vehicle is, the more likely people are to worry about its safety. Hyundai India claims the Venue is the safest in its class. Top-end variants get six airbags, and ABS with EBD is standard across all variants. In case you meet with an accident or the car breaks down, there are three buttons on the internal rear-view mirror that can help you recover from the problem.
The Venue is priced starting `6.5 lakh (1.2-litre petrol), `8.21 lakh (1.0-litre turbo petrol) and `7.75 lakh (1.4-litre diesel), and here’s the catch. No doubt it’s a path-breaking SUV, but the features that ‘truly’ define it are available only in top-end variants; for example, Hyundai blueLink connectivity comes only in SX and SX(O), as do things such as air purifier, wireless phone charger, HD touchscreen, burglar alarm, smart key, and inside rear-view mirror with telematics switches. Nevertheless, the Venue marks the beginning of the era of connected cars in India, and will inspire numerous other cars in the years to come, including all other Hyundai cars.