Hyundai Venue Facelift: Observations after a day of driving

As expected of a monocoque crossover, the Venue is very car-like to drive. Owners will appreciate this in the city & on highway drives alike.

Driving the Hyundai Venue 1.0 Turbo-Petrol AT

998cc turbo-petrol engine develops 118 BHP & 172 Nm:

Hyundai is offering a 7-speed DCT as an option (apart from a 6-speed iMT) with the Venue 1.0L petrol. The company has always been big on automatic gearboxes in India (right from the original Santro), and this is their first dual-clutch AT here. The DCT is available in the S(O) and SX (O) trim levels. Both are equipped with hill-start assist, vehicle stability management and electronic stability control.

The Venue AT is the only car in the segment with a DCT. All its rivals come with either an AMT or a torque converter. 7 ratios also result in a superior spread of gearing and the transmission does feel decidedly superior to its rivals and With this facelift Hyundai has also introduced paddle shifters and drive modes (Normal, Eco and Sport). The DCT gearbox is smooth and the entire package is very refined. The Venue DCT costs between Rs. 10.97 – 12.72 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi).

The Venue DCT is very refined at idle. It moves off seamlessly from a standstill. There is a slight initial lag though, as there is no torque-converter & the turbo-charger. Once you’re moving, light accelerator input is all you’ll need to commute in the city. The gearbox moves up early, while shifts are quick and smooth. Driving with a light foot, you’ll never even know that the gears are being changed. They are almost imperceptible. The turbo-petrol offers brisk acceleration, while the  power & torque on tap make the gearbox’s job easier. We also liked how the gearbox is never found hunting for gears. Combine this smooth AT with the light steering, excellent ergonomics, properly placed dead pedal & clean frontal visibility and you have a sweet city ride. For bumper to bumper traffic conditions, there is a fair amount of ‘crawl’ available too. Just lift your foot off the brake pedal in ‘D’ and the Venue will crawl forward, allowing you to drive in bad traffic with just one pedal (the brake). Downside? The Venue is reluctant to downshift from 2nd -> 1st. Hence, you’ll need to be patient if you want to suddenly close a gap in traffic (as an example).

Thanks to the powerful engine, the Venue AT is a competent expressway cruiser too. You can easily hit silly speeds and like in the MT, the mid-range is punchy. It sure comes in handy for overtaking. For long distance cruisers, the engine spins @ 2,600 rpm at 120 km/h (100 km/h = ~2,100 rpm). Kickdown response time is average. If the revvs are low, it takes a second or so for the gearbox + turbo to react. Sometimes, you’ll find the gearbox to be hesitant to downshift too. But once the AT & turbo respond, this thing is very peppy. Will add that, when the engine is in the meat of the powerband, the reaction times are far lesser.

The Venue’s 7-speed DCT shifts faster than the gearboxes used by its rivals. It’s clearly the best AT among the Compact SUVs. Manual mode is useful when you want to prepare the car for overtaking a fast vehicle on a 2-lane highway, or when you desire engine braking. Move the gear lever to the right to engage manual mode. The response time to your commands is quick. What we found disappointing was that, even in manual mode, you can take the revvs to just ~6,500 rpm (which is the start of the redline) before the transmission shifts up on its own. Keep in mind that it’s tuned very conservatively & won’t allow aggressive downshifts if the rpm level is even a little high. 

We’ll keep our fingers crossed on the long-term durability of this gearbox. While it’s reassuring to have a manufacturer with a track record for reliability backing it, the fact is that no dual-clutch gearbox has had a clean reputation in India. Not Ford’s DCT, and certainly not VW’s DSG. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on reports from Venue owners. Be sure to take that extended warranty package!

The Venue turbo petrol DCT has an ARAI-certified fuel economy figure of 18.15 km/l. Owners are reporting 9 – 10 km/l in the city (a handful did say 8.5 too), and 14 – 15 km/l on the highway.

Apart from the regular Normal driving mode, there are two more available in the Venue DCT – Eco and Sport.

Eco Mode – Eco dulls performance, but makes for a very smooth drive which is perfect for the city. There is sufficient power available to keep up with city traffic. You won’t need to engage the other modes often. The transmission shifts up early to maximise fuel economy. Eco mode works well on the highway too. It’s apt for cruising and works OK even while passing slower vehicles. Only on undivided highways will you need to shift to one of the other modes, when you need to pass vehicles quickly. Or when you are in a mood for some fun.

Sport Mode – Sport mode sharpens everything up. Throttle response is better and the transmission holds on to a gear for a while longer. In the city, this mode can get a bit busy & jerky in stop-go traffic. It’s a joy on the open road though. You can really get a move on if you are an enthusiastic driver. Sport mode also gives you superior engine braking.

Cap gets a marking to indicate the petrol car’s diet:

Suspension

The Venue uses a McPherson strut suspension with coil springs at the front and a coupled torsion beam at the rear. Low speed ride quality is compliant & mature, with small bumps being absorbed well. However, there is a bit of a firm edge to the ride which you will feel on bad roads & large potholes. This is inevitable with most crossovers as manufacturers have to firm things up a bit due to the raised height. Even medium-sized potholes make their presence felt inside. Still, owners won’t complain as the ride is compliant overall. At the rear too, it doesn’t get too bouncy. That said, things aren’t as plush as in the Honda WR-V. The car feels quite comfortable on the expressway. While our test cars were equipped with 16″ wheels, lesser variants get 15″ rims with taller rubber. The ride quality on those is likely to be cushier. The suspension does its work silently as well.

As expected of a monocoque crossover, the Venue is very car-like to drive. Owners will appreciate this in the city & on highway drives alike. Out on the open road, straight line stability is good. While the car doesn’t feel twitchy, it has a tendency to wallow over expressway bumps & undulations. It is certainly not as planted as the segment-leading Ford EcoSport at high speeds.

In terms of handling, the Venue remains composed through fast corners. There is some body roll, yet it’s controlled. The car feels sorted, even when being pushed through the twisties. It behaves just like you’d expect a family crossover to. The dynamics are clean with no nasty surprises at all. That said, once again, the EcoSport remains the segment leader in this department. Important to note that the  SX(O) and DCT variants are equipped with electronic stability control (ESC), vehicle stability management (VSM) and hill assist control (HAC).

The grip provided by the Venue’s 215/60 MRF Wanderer tyres was acceptable, but not exceptional. Enthusiasts with a more aggressive driving style will want to upgrade to stickier rubber. Drive to your friendly tyre shop straight from the showroom itself to get the best exchange price.

The electric power steering is light and butter-smooth at parking / city speeds. Along with its small size, this makes for a very easy car to drive in urban conditions. It’s turning radius of 5.1m is as small as the segment-best Tata Nexon. On the highway, the steering is not nervous. Those days of crazy Hyundai steerings are gone. The steering weighs up alright and it’s not overtly sensitive either. No owner will complain. However, enthusiasts aren’t likely to find its feel & feedback to their tastes.

The unladen ground clearance is rated at almost 200 mm (we’ve heard 190 – 195 mm from different Hyundai people, but it’s not put on paper). Suffice to say, the GC is more than enough.

All variants of the Venue come with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear, with ABS + EBD and Brake Assist System. The brakes perform as expected. The car stops in a straight line sans drama when braking from high speeds.

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