Hyundai Venue facelift: First drive review
A 1000km road trip – there are few ways to get better acquainted with a car than being behind the wheel of it and crunching the miles on the sheer variety of roads that our country has to offer. That is precisely what I did with the pre-facelift Hyundai Venue, barely a week before driving the refreshed one and over the course of a week on the road, starting at the MMRT in Chennai to catch up with enthusiasts at the evo India meetup, I rediscovered why Hyundai’s compact SUV is so popular amongst buyers ever since its launch in 2019, with its connected car tech, choice of engine and gearbox combos and no dearth of equipment. But this is a segment that’s never lacking for new metal. While it continues to compete against rivals like the Toyota Urban Cruiser / Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, its own cousin, the Kia Sonet and the Tata Nexon, there are plenty of upstarts on the block like the Renault Kiger and the Nissan Magnite which threaten to challenge the Venue’s dominance. Hyundai hasn’t been sitting idle though. After just three years, the Venue has received a facelift. But does it have what it takes to fend off its new rivals?
2022 Hyundai Venue engines and performance
As far as the mechanicals go, the Venue is sorted. It continues to get the same 1.2-litre nat-asp petrol engine while the diesel is the 1.5-litre mill which made its appearance post the BS6 emission norms – after all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? What we sampled however was the enthusiast’s choice, the 1-litre turbo petrol which makes the same outputs as before, 118bhp of power and 172Nm of torque. And it responds wonderfully when you’re caning it. Unlike the VAG Group’s TSI engines, there’s no instant ‘whoosh’ of power as the boost builds up but it's all very linear. There’s the slightest hint of turbo lag but after that the Venue pulls hard to the redline, and unlike the aforementioned TSIs which can feel a bit too spirited to drive in the city, the Venue’s three-pot turbo petrol feels nicer when pootling around town. There’s a good amount of low-down grunt too and this engine, despite it being Hyundai’s first turbo-petrol offering in India, is very refined, with barely any vibrations or clatter at idle indicating that this is a three-pot. You do wish for a bit more of a top-end out on the highway but that is only when you’re past legal speeds, and most owners won’t be hustling their Venues anyway.
Our test car was mated to the six-speed iMT transmission and we’re no strangers to Hyundai’s clutchless manual, a far superior and elegant solution compared to an AMT. Without the hassle of using a clutch, driving the Venue is a convenient yet fun experience, especially on the city commute, without the fuel efficiency penalties that you might associate with a conventional automatic. The iMT also blips the throttle, rev-matching for you as you downshift, which only adds to the driving experience as you’re caning it. Not to mention that you CAN slide… nay, drift, the Venue with an iMT, as we demonstrated in our YouTube video a couple of months back.
The 1-litre turbo petrol can also be had with a DCT transmission which now gets paddle shifters on the steering wheel. With the DCT you also get a choice of three driving modes – Normal, Eco and Sport. We didn’t get a chance to drive the DCT-equipped Venue, but given our experience with the Creta which gets driving modes for its DCT, you can expect the shift speeds and the throttle responses to be slightly altered depending on which driving mode you’ve selected. One of the few mechanical changes to the Venue include tweaks to the DCT to make it more snappy, Hyundai claims, along with paddle shifters on the steering wheel for the first time.
2022 Hyundai Venue styling, inspired by Tucson
The big change of course is that the Venue gets a nose-job and the earlier grille has been replaced by one which Hyundai calls the Parametric jewel grille design, with the emblem nestling in the centre. The grille itself is finished in dark chrome, which appears almost bronze-like when you view it in the sunlight. The front bumpers meanwhile get a blanked off airdam which stretches out to the edges. In terms of illumination, the Venue now gets LED projector headlamps compared to the earlier halogens, which sit below the LED DRLs.
Move over the side and the Venue continues to get 16-inch alloy wheels but they now wear a different design. The fiery red paint that you see on our test car is also new and it is complemented by the black roof, not to mention the bevy of black cladding which flanks the sides and the wheel arches. Over at the rear, is another big change, the connecting LED tail lamps, which are identical to the Volkswagen Taigun’s, as our followers on Instagram repeatedly remind us, and the rear bumpers too are now reprofiled.
Styling of course is a personal subject and while I honestly wasn’t too keen about the facelift at first, it does grow on you. Particularly in white, it does remind you of the upcoming Tucson and the Venue now looks sharper and more butch than the outgoing one. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the Venue will continue to find popularity amongst buyers, as its predecessor before it.
2022 Hyundai Venue interiors and features
Spend some time in the cabin of a Hyundai Venue and you realise why it is so popular. The dashboard is laid out logically, you get nice big physical controls for the climate controls instead of touchscreens and everything is where it is supposed to be, without looking drab. The Venue’s interiors have also boasted good fit and finish which is backed up by the extensive features list and the facelifted version only builds on that. Replacing the earlier denim colour schemes, the interior is now swathed in what Hyundai calls greige (grey plus beige) contrasting with black, and it does make the cabin a lot more airy than the SUV it replaces.
The layout of the dash is familiar with an 8-inch touchscreen for infotainment, which is now updated to support OTA (over the air) updates to the firmware in addition to the de rigeur wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. You also get Home 2 Car (H2C) Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa connectivity baked in. In fact, connected car tech was the Venue’s trump card when it was launched, and Hyundai’s own Bluelink now gets more than 60 additional functions, including support for 10 regional languages. There’s also something called 'Sounds of Nature' in the infotainment which can pipe out the sounds of a forest or the seaside should you need a bit of peace and quiet in traffic, and it would be interesting to try it out in real life traffic conditions.
I miss the earlier analogue instrument cluster though, which has made way for a digital one just like on the Kia Carens and gets numerals for the tachometer rather than a conventional swooping graphic.
Other changes? You now get Type C ports for charging in addition to the Type As up front and there’s also ambient lighting, though we couldn’t really experience it during our drive in bright sunlight. The front seats, though not ventilated, didn’t make our backsides sweaty on our first drive in Hyderabad and the driver’s seat is now electrically adjustable, albeit with the height adjustment continuing to be manual. A bit odd if you ask me. There’s no change to the dimensions of the Venue save for a marginal (12mm) increase in height, but that’s not consequential to the amount of space offered in the cabin. The Venue continues to seat four in comfort and even though the front seats have been scooped out to liberate a wee bit more knee room, the additional space isn’t really usable with your shins digging into the back of the front seat. What should appease rear seat occupants is the presence of two USB C ports mounted below the rear AC vents and the two-step reclining seats, though the Venue is still not as spacious as some of its rivals given its sub 4-metre footprint.
2022 Hyundai Venue ride and handling
While the looks may have changed, the Venue’s fun to drive nature has carried forward with the facelift. The 1-litre turbo petrol, like I mentioned earlier, is an enthusiastic engine and it is only complemented by the Venue’s dynamics which are identical to the older SUV’s. Our drive was limited to the Hyderabad ring road and its smooth tarmac along with the internal roads of Ramoji film city, and the Venue impressed us with its effortless cruising ability.
When you do hustle it though, the Venue does feel confident in the corners even when carrying a fair bit of speed. There’s a good amount of grip on turn-in, and while the steering is super light and feels slightly disconnected at times, thus not offering too much in the way of feel, you never have a hairy moment when cornering hard or going through a set of twisties. What impresses me the most is the breadth of driving ability that it rewards, with the Venue putting a smile on the face of a newbie enthusiast as well as an experienced enthu-cutlet. The lightness of the controls make the Venue a joy in the city as well, and the brakes continue to be sharp, packing in a good bite.
This agility and enthusiasm does come at the slight expense of ride comfort, and while the Venue’s suspension is not sprung stiffly outright, road imperfections and the sharper bumps can filter through the cabin with a thud, though the Venue never feels uncomfortable. That stiffness does mean that on highways, the Venue is more sure-footed and does not feel flighty, and unless you’re bent on being chauffeured around in a Venue, the compact SUV offers a good ride and handling balance with a bit of a sporty edge.
2022 Hyundai Venue price and verdict
I have always been fond of the Hyundai Venue and the value proposition that it offers is a good one. Of course there’s no diesel-automatic on offer yet and it isn’t the most spacious in its class. But considering the cut-throat competition in this segment and the increasing number of new rivals, the Venue continues to be a no-brainer with its potent engines, good spread of features and lovely driving experience. The facelifted Venue doesn't set the cat amongst the pigeons like its predecessor did when it was first launched, but then again, it doesn’t need to. This new Venue promises to be another best seller for Hyundai, with the update now offering first in class features such as electric adjustment for driver’s seat and a two-step recline along with a bit more ‘in your face’ styling. It doesn’t exactly undercut the competition, with the top-spec iMT variant that we tested being priced at Rs 12.07 lakh, but considering the added kit and the overall package which the Venue offers, you cannot go wrong by putting your money down for one.