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.
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.
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.