Hyundai Venue N Line first drive review: The sportiest compact SUV?
Go-faster cars have always excited us here at evo India. And while Ferraris and Lambos will always get our pulses racing, the more affordable end of the spectrum excites us equally because it means performance is being democratised. To see if India is a viable market for the brand’s full-blown ‘N’ series of cars, Hyundai introduced the N-Line range starting with the i20. It was more than just a mere sticker and paint job and it got a bunch of performance tweaks to make it appeal to the enthusiast in you. That coupled with just a small bump in the price tag made it quite a success. Now, Hyundai has given the Venue, one of our favourite C-SUVs the same N Line treatment and also gets features like a dual-camera dashcam as standard on the higher-end N8 variant.
Hyundai Venue N Line design
Like with the Hyundai i20 N Line, the Venue N Line gets a whole bunch of cosmetic tweaks to set it apart from the standard variant. It begins with the smattering of N Line badges on all sides of the car. The car is based on the facelifted Venue and gets all those design changes but with an N Line twist. The front grille looks significantly sportier and gets a dark chrome finish. You also have a new design for the bumper, both at the front and the rear. In typical N Line fashion, to state the car's sportier intentions, you have red stripes across the front and rear bumper, on the door panels, wheel arches and the roof rails as well. Then you have the new 16-inch diamond cut alloys with the N logo on the hubcaps. The eagle-eyed among you would have noticed that the front brake callipers are now finished in red and that the rear wheels also get disc brakes. This is standard across both the N6 and the N8 variants and is part of the ‘N-Line’ treatment. Step to the rear and you are greeted by the dual-tip exhaust. The Venue N Line is available in two single-tone colour schemes and three dual-tone colour scheme options with the dual-tone bit coming from a blacked-out roof. The one I drove is the single-tone ‘Polar White’ colourway which looks a bit underwhelming considering that it is meant to be a sportier car. So I would stick to the thunder blue paint scheme for sure.
Hyundai Venue N Line interiors
The interiors are where it becomes more evident that you are seated in an N-Line car. To begin with, you have an all-black with red accents interior scheme with red ambient lighting in certain places and this definitely adds to the sporty appeal. Courtesy of the blacked-out theme, the cabin of the N Line although largely similar in terms of kit on offer, feels like a much nicer place to be as compared to the grey-beige interiors of the standard Venue. The black is complemented extremely well with all the red accenting and contrast stitching. Small details like the AC vent stalks finished in red make you appreciate the attention to detail that has gone into this car. Like with the i20 N Line, you get black leatherette seats with N badging and a chequered flag graphic. The flat bottom steering has been replaced with a three-spoke ’wheel with N branding and you also have a new N-branded gear shifter as well. Both of these feel nice to the touch. Instrumentation remains unchanged and you continue to get the same 8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with Hyundai’s Bluelink system. The 8-inch instrument cluster also has the same layout as the facelift although I would have appreciated a different layout, one to match the sporty nature of the rest of the car. The lack of a proper tachometer which rises and falls with the revs like an analogue needle if not a real needle simply doesn’t do it for me. The Venue N Line also gets a dual-camera dashcam system. This is standard on the top-spec N8 variant and with the ghastly state of affairs in terms of safety on Indian roads, it is a nice feature to have. The module has two cameras: one to record the road and one for the cabin. You can control this with a smartphone app and it can record up to 64GB of footage. Overall, the Venue N Line definitely seems like a step up over the standard car in the interior department.
Hyundai Venue N Line engine and performance
Powering the Hyundai Venue N Line is powered by the same 1-litre, three-cylinder, turbo petrol engine that propels the i20 N Line and even the standard Venue for that matter. The Venue N Line unlike the i20 N Line gets this engine only with the option of the seven-speed DCT gearbox and doesn’t get the option of the iMT. Engine performance-wise, this three-cylinder is in an identical state of tune, meaning it makes 118bhp at 6000rpm and 172Nm of torque from 1500-4000rpm. This turbo-petrol mill is the happiest at higher RPMs and you get the best both in terms of performance and fuel efficiency when the turbo is singing. The engine could have benefited from a tune which gave it a bit more oomph in the low and mid-range of the rev-band making it more fun in the twisties. Speaking of singing, the Venue N Line also gets a dual-tip exhaust which makes the car sound much sportier and rortier than before. The new exhaust note can be heard clearly even in the cabin and no, the sound isn’t artificially fed in. As aforementioned, the car only gets the option of the DCT and for general driving, this works just fine. But for those spirited drives when the tarmac starts to wind, the DCT ’box isn’t as snappy and takes a bit longer than I liked to respond to shifts. The DCT is another area that would benefit from a slight tune and if you’re an old-school enthusiast, you will also miss a manual gearbox.
Hyundai Venue N Line ride and handling
In terms of driving, this is where the Venue N Line receives the most upgrades. 34 per cent stiffer dampers in the suspension, a weightier steering wheel and disc brakes on all wheels. Those are the headline figures for this car. Now the Venue was already our car of choice amongst its rivals for sheer driving pleasure. This was primarily down to the fact that it was the stiffest of the lot. The Venue N Line now takes that further. Start driving the car and this is immediately apparent. The standard Venue was stiff but not at the cost of comfort, the same can’t be said for the N Line. The car is not as pliant and bad roads will unsettle the cabin more than you would expect a car in this segment to. But the story is completely different when you take it to a set of good, winding roads. The stiffer suspension and the weighed-up steering translate to a car that feels a lot more stable, planted and communicative. You are more aware of what your front wheels are doing and there is less body roll to speak of, not that there was a lot, to begin with. Another element that takes the thrill of driving quotient one step higher is the four-disc braking setup. You have a lot more bite, bite you can modulate well. This means you can step harder and brake later into a corner. So clearly, the focus here was more on sportiness than comfort and if that was what you're looking for, the N Line has you sorted.
Hyundai Venue N Line price and verdict
The Hyundai Venue N Line is available in two variants — N6 and N8. Prices for the N6 variant start at Rs 12.16 and the top-spec N8 variant will set you back Rs 13.3 lakh ex-showroom. This makes the top-spec N8 around Rs 58,000 more expensive than the equivalent turbo-petrol DCT-equipped, dual-tone standard Venue. For that money, you are getting a much sportier design both inside and out, a safer all-disc braking setup, a stiffer suspension setup, weighed-up steering and a dash cam as standard. Getting all of these as aftermarket mods will cost significantly more. The Venue N Line remains a sophisticated, well-equipped compact SUV, one that is now more engaging to drive. The added sportiness does come at the cost of a little comfort but for an enthusiast that is a very small price to pay. So if you are in the market for a sporty compact SUV, look no further than the Hyundai Venue N Line, but do yourself a favour and get it in blue.