If there’s one thing you can accuse Hyundai of, it is unimaginative nomenclatures. The latest in line of this is the Venue compact SUV. But while the name might be drab and boring, the car promises to be the best yet in its segment for the sheer features and tech it has on offer. Hyundai claims that the name is based on the fact that young urbane buyers prefer to be connected at all times. While they are always using their internet at home and office, the Venue is the first connected car with an embedded sim. Hyundai is calling this app the Bluelink and this gives it the instant edge over all other rivals, which don’t even offer this tech as an option. Buyers will appreciate most is 30-odd connected apps, most of which are for safety and some for luxury and comfort. For instance you can start/stop the car using the app. You can also turn on the AC and remote unlock/lock the car among other things.
From a distance, the Venue looks like the Creta and that’s a good thing because the Creta is an aspirational car for many in the middle class. The sub-4-metre length means that it’s a compact design and has short overhangs. The front end of the car might split opinions though. The hexagonal grille has overgrown and eats up most of the space on the face. Hyundai has used split lamps on the face with unique positioning for the headlamps, which are housed below in the bumper area – a place traditionally reserved for the indicator and fog lamps. The fogs and turn signal are housed above, where the headlamp units usually find place. Buyers will appreciate the side profile, especially the beautifully crafted alloy wheels. The diamond cut design looks very cool indeed. The rear end of the Venue isn’t as bold as the face, with a traditional set of square lamps. Overall, it’s a well balanced design that should appeal to a large audience.
Hyundai has over the years been known for solid interiors, which excel both in quality as well as features. It’s no different on the Venue. The car comes with best in class cabin quality. Every tiny material, every switch and all the plastics are made from high quality materials and could befit a car twice the price. The fit and finish is top notch and even the lower end of the centre console, a place where most buyers don’t pay attention to, is solid.
The highlight is the 8-inch touchscreen, which houses the Bluelink app. The app is a boon not only for today’s millennial generation but also for someone who heavily relies on the chauffer. You can turn the AC on, switch the power on, lock and unlock the car from your phone. This can be done from any part of the world. Voice based apps can also be used to use navigation. There also an SOS function for security. God-forbid you are ever involved in a crash, the systems on the car will send out a signal to emergency services for help. You can also remotely immobilise the car, the app will notify you immediately if someone has stolen it.
Hyundai is also offering a sunroof on the top-end version, as well as the option of six airbags. Most buyers will enjoy the seats both on the front and back. The seats offer very good cushioning and support is excellent as well. The back seat passengers though will find knee-room just about adequate. Anyone over six feet tall will struggle in the back over long journeys. The boot at 350-litres is of a generous shape and size as well, and its only 50-litres down on the much bigger and more expensive Creta SUV.
Engine, performance and gearbox
Hyundai will offer three engines and four gearboxes. The familiar 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel are augmented with a new 1-litre turbo petrol. While the former two units get manual only gearboxes, the latter gets a manual and a seven-speed automatic dual clutch unit as well.
All engines are good for refinement and power is more than adequate. The 1.4-diesel is a good bet for those who want good economy as well as decent power. With 89bhp, it’s not the most powerful diesel in its segment but can match all rivals for sheer performance.
If you enjoy driving then the 1-litre turbo-petrol motor is the one to choose. It offers good power delivery from a relatively low 1,400-1,500 rpm. The engine offers zippy performance and simply loves to rev all the way to its redline of 6,500-7,000rpm without any fuss. With 120bhp on offer, it’s the most powerful engine in this segment now with performance to match. The automatic unit feels effortless as well and there is a silky smooth transition between gears. Buyers won’t be able to tell when the gears are shifting, it’s that good. You can shift the gears manually as well and the shifts are just as quick.
The manual gearboxes remain just as slick as before and their short throws make gear changing an enjoyable affair.
Ride and handling
The suspension set up is on the firmer side, which aids highway stability. However, the downside is that the Venue will allow some badly patched up roads to enter the cabin. However, the ride in general is good and highway manners are rock solid. The steering on the Venue is well weighed and offers good feedback. There is no slackness either and buyers will appreciate its accurate feel. This steering is one of the best on any Hyundai till date and impresses in more ways than one. Body roll is well under control as well.
A little more space in the backseat and the Venue would be the perfect compact SUV. That said, it comes across as a solid allrounder offering a nice mix of quality, features, looks and drivability. At these prices, it’s the best compact SUV out there.