WagonR: When your Middle name is JDM

 

With its tall proportions, small foot print and upright shape, the Wagon R was never meant to be a looker. The first two generations have been unashamedly boxy. The new one has been made to look less slab sided than its predecessors. There are some character lines on the doors and the wheel arches are more pronounced. It is also based on the Ignis chassis this time, so it is a lot wider than before. The bonnet appears shorter and that gives it a very Japanese look. The C pillar with the black trim gives a floating effect to the roof. For a practical runabout, the new Wagon R is a very good design.

Our photoshop expert Rahul K Dinesh has come up with these two renders that highlight the JDM flavour. The top one uses a bright orange paint job, time honoured Watanabe wheels, blacked out grille and a contrast roof.

 

Our favourite render though is the one at the bottom. The car looks so much more JDM in white colour, coupled with classic Enkei Works alloys in white. The blacked out grille, amber indicators in the headlamps, red highlight on the bumper are so well executed.

 

Even MG can’t decide if it is ‘a MG’ or ‘ an MG’ !

The MG showroom is dripping with old school British charm – right from brick walls, wooden facades and red telephone booth style doors. There is a cafe on the corner where you can get a piping hot cup of coffee with some tasty little biscuits.

 

For all its British aura, MG quite can’t get its articles ‘A’ or ‘An’ right.

 

The Coastline Garages showroom in Kochi has a banner with its own spot-light that says ‘Keep Calm and Drive a MG’. But if you take the pronunciation of MG, it should be “an MG” and not “a MG”, isn’t it?

 

Of course, ‘Keep calm and drive AMG’ would be quite right, if we are talking about Mercedes’ performance division.

 

There are other wall paintings to remind you of the brand and its heritage, racing pedigree and what not. These are a bit excessive and everywhere, especially when you know that the Hector is Chinese and has nothing to do with the MGs of the past.  Not even the toilets were spared.

 

 

That MG Poster is right there, so that you don’t forget why you were there in the first place.

Hyundai debuts new Valvetrain dubbed the CVVD

Some say its days are doomed, but car manufacturers are pushing their boundaries with petrol engine tech. Hyundai has come up with a new technology for its engines called the CVVD ie Continuously Variable Valve Duration which they claim can improve performance and efficiency by 4% and 5%, respectively and decrease emissions by 12%.

    

During constant-speed driving, CVVD leaves the intake valve open until the middle of the compression stroke, closing it near the end. This helps improve fuel efficiency by reducing compression resistance. However, when engine output is high such as when the vehicle is traveling at high speed, the intake valve closes at the beginning of the compression stroke to maximize the amount of air used for combustion, which improves torque, acceleration, and engine performance.

The CVVD system will make its way to the new ‘Smart Stream’ engine family, starting with a new turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder engine that makes 180hp and 264 Nm of torque. The new  Sonata Turbo will be the first to get it towards the second half of this year while it will also filter to Kia products in near future.

 

The Hector’s huge touchscreen is a touchy subject

Unless you had been asleep for a month, you’d know by now that the MG Hector has a massive Tesla style 10.4 inch touch screen and a shoddy ‘Internet Inside’ badging. It can do a multitude of things while being connected to the world of internet via an embedded sim card. You can greet the car, by saying “Hello MG” and it will respond to your commands. You can ask it to play the music, set the sat-nav or the temperature or open/close the driver side window or sunroof. It will even play videos off Gaana and other apps. You can also control some of the car’s functions via a mobile phone, locate the car or check its stats from any part of the world.

It is all fancy till the novelty wears off and you wonder about its everyday usability. It is not easy or safe to operate a touchscreen while driving. During our drive, we found the touchscreen was laggy and would occasionally freeze and that the voice recognition isn’t very good and it is much easier to operate everything with your hands like you would, in a normal car. The user interface isn’t very well thought out as you don’t have dedicated buttons for the AC controls or other important functions. So when you get a call and you have to reduce the fan speed to hear the other person better, you have to go into the menu within the touchscreen – that takes a while to respond – and then do it. Of the five buttons under the touchscreen, two are taken up by the demister (which you use very rarely), two are volume controls while the central button isn’t a knob and is only for switching the infotainment screen on/off. The volume control functions could have been easily integrated into the middle button if it was a knob, but no. And why is it circular in shape if it isn’t a knob and its only function is to turn on/off the infotainment screen?

Of course, all this internet connected features work only when you have proper network. So if you are on  a family trip to some hillstation, no amount of “Please” will get the British lady to get what you are looking for.

Then there is the question of safety when you have to take your eyes off the road to operate something. Some like Honda use touch screens for HVAC controls and that’s equally annoying. Hard buttons and knobs for everyday functions are essential and it’s about time car manufacturers realize this.

The Land Rover system springs to mind, where you have dedicated buttons and knobs for the essential functions and makes your job much easier while on the move. They even switch from one function to another depending on what menu you are on the screen. You can even operate them with wet hands or while wearing gloves. Someone put some thought into that. It is bloody brilliant. If you have to have touchscreens, this is the way to go.

The new BMW X6 has had its teeth whitened.

 

Who here remembers the Happy Dent Indian commercial from 2007? Sufi Music, 18th Century Palace with guards in mallakhamb position over light poles, human chandelier, all popping a Happy Dent the very last minute to give out a very illuminating smile so the king can see what’s in his plate? Well, BMW has one up on the idea with the new illuminated kidney grill on the new X6.

Just when you thought the kidney grills were getting annoyingly huge, how about drawing attention to them with some backlighting? Will this catch on?

Mercedes C43 AMG Coupe

The Mercedes Benz C43 has always been the perfect ‘stealth performance’ sedan that you could use every day. It looks like a regular C class with some sportier bumpers, but you could do 0-100kmph in under five seconds when needed. Every time you start it up, it was silent without waking up the neighbours, and as long as you don’t buy it in one of the sportier colours, you could blend into the corporate parking lot and no one would notice. Perhaps that was one of its biggest issues, because for some people, they wanted quite the opposite. They need the attention. They need the looks to reflect why it was nearly twice the money of a regular C class sedan.

Enter the C43 AMG coupe. Mercedes’ decision to launch the facelifted C43 only as a coupe is a great one. Now it has the drama to go with the performance. The roof is lower than the sedan’s and now stretches across to the heavily raked rear glass. The front end is unmistakably like in a C class, but the rear is completely different with stretched out tail lamps and a rear diffuser with quad exhausts. The car has a more muscle car look with extra bulk around the rear wheel arch area. The wheels are classic AMG twin five spokes in 18 inches and they complement the Designo Hyacinth red colour of our test car.

Because of the lower roofline, the interiors are cozier too. But you will love the supportive seats with their red seat belts. The dashboard is the familiar C class stuff, with the fantastic quality of this era of Mercs shining through. The rear seat is fine for short distances but you are limited by the amount of headroom and legroom. Getting in there requires some effort and is best suited for children.

Unlike the 63 engine, the C43’s engine is not handbuilt at the AMG Factory in Affalterbach, but it does get AMG specific turbos, exhaust and tuning. The 3.0 litre twin turbo V6 now develops 390bhp and 520 Nm torque. That is 23bhp more than the old car and it now does 0-100kmph in 4.6 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250kmph how easily you get there will certainly leave you impressed. Acceleration is still mega, and because it is all wheel drive, it doesn’t waste any power with wheel spin. There is a constant surge and it pulls well to 6000rpm instantly. Use the paddles and you would be surprised how quickly it revs and one can only wish it had a higher rev limit. The 9 speed automatic does a decent job, although it could have been a bit faster with the downshifts. The C43 also sounds good although not as vocal as the 63. For most part it is calm and comfortable, but it does get rorty when you floor it, more so in the Sport Mode.

The C43 also packs three stage adaptive variable damping, with new steering knuckles and load-bearing joints on the spring link at the front resulting in negative camber, and pretty much exactly the C63’s settings at the rear. The brakes are monstrous internally ventilated compound discs with a diameter of 360mm and 320mm.

The big difference is how it drives compared to a C63 AMG. While the C63 is a tyre shredding hooligan with all its power sent to the rear wheels, the C43 has all-wheel drive. And on wet roads, the grip from the all-wheel drive system is quite handy. You can confidently floor the accelerator midway through a corner and put all the power down without the ESP having to overwork.  On a wet track, I reckon it will be even faster than the C63.  It is quite a rear biased all-wheel drive system with 31:69 torque split front and rear. That said, it could be more of a playful car in the corners and save some weight by being just rear wheel drive.

The steering is pretty accurate though it could do with a bit more feel. The brakes are fantastic and stop the car from speeds without any fade whatsoever. The ride quality is on the stiffer side and the suspension can send a bit of thud when you hit a broken patch unexpectedly. The tyres are 225/45 R18 at the front and 245/40 R18 at the rear, giving you good grip.

Blending good looks, decent everyday practicality and good performance, the C43 AMG is in a class of its own. While it was already a perfect all-rounder in sedan form, the new coupe variant has boosted its appeal even further.

High Roller : W212 E Class

A lowered Mercedes with a roof box on top, is bound to draw some attention, but this was next level. Passersby were curious as to why it has a big silver thing on top as much as what was in it. I ask the owner, ‘was it really needed, with the 540 litre boot space it has?’. He says, “at times, there are other things you don’t want to carry in the boot”.

Azrif owns Superbee a shop which specializes in tuning and maintenance of Japanese and European cars. The E class with its luxury and comfort is the perfect family car and a project car to promote the business with.

This W212 E250CDI goes back to 2010, roughly the same time when it was launched in India. Azrif got the car from Haryana a few years back and it was in rather good shape. It is the traditional Merc colour of Iridium Silver metallic and he picked the AMG route for his mods. So an AMG body kit complete with front, rear bumpers and side skirts were imported. The traditional standing Merc logo on the bonnet was replaced with a flat emblem like in modern AMGs. There is a small roof spoiler and an even smaller one on the boot lid. The rear gets the AMG bumper with the black valance, but thankfully, Azrif hasn’t bothered to fit fake exhaust tips on it. “It’s a diesel and I don’t want to make it look rice. Lol. The AMG kit was added because I liked it and always wanted to have one” – says Azrif, who once owned a supercharged G55AMG among others.

 

The four cylinder diesel engine was perfect for his requirements although there is never satisfying one’s need for more power. A Dimsport remap was flashed in and a BMC intake was fitted on. It also runs Liquimoly Molygen performance oil. To drive, it feels a lot faster than a stock 250CDI, being more refined and responsive at low revs and getting a lot punchy where the turbo kicks in. The modifications have brought out more of the character of the 2.2 litre four cylinder although it still cannot quite match the creaminess of a 350 V6 diesel.

The car runs much lower on Triple S springs for the right stance. Further adding to the looks are the 18 inch AMG style staggered rims in 8 and 9 inch width. The wheels just stand right with the arches wearing wide 245/40 R18 rubber. The ride quality is decent and you can tackle most speed bumps without worrying too much, although you have to be mindful of the low bumper and side skirts. The car also runs Brembo rotors and pads on all four corners.

 

Cruising down the road with one hand out on the window, sun kissing the dashboard and the roofbox casting a shadow on the bonnet, I can’t help but think of the good times we are living in. Today you can pick up any car of your choice, from any manufacturer, find parts that you like and build it in a way that satisfies you and/or the internet. There is no right way or wrong way of doing things, as long as it makes you smile. It is not a fast car, or has the most desirable specs, but for cruising around the city, this one is perfect.

Evo VIII MR

I was running late and the sun was already beginning to set in Mumbai. Karan Shah of KS Motorsports wanted to show me a few places where we could shoot the next day, and was waiting for me at the intersection. Rush hour was upon us and by the time I reached Karan, it was already close to 6 pm. He said, the spot he had in mind, was a few kilometres away but it wasn’t a problem with what the Evo VIII had under the hood. A mad rush of power ensued, as soon I buckled up in the passenger seat and he set off. This was all familiar. This was how it was done back in the day. One car, four doors, two litres, one very big turbo, four driven wheels…- mix them up well and you have a wide grin plastered on everyone’s face.

 

 

Mitsubishi switched to the larger Lancer Cedia platform in 2001 following a change in WRC rules. The Evo VII that resulted saw the introduction of an Active Center Differential (ACD) and a more effective limited slip differential at the rear along with a front helical limited slip differential. The Evo VIII improved upon that in 2003 and made everything even better.

 

 

This Evo VIII is the MR edition with the six speed manual transmission. The vortex generator on the roof was an optional fitment back in the day as were some BBS wheels. This particular car had aftermarket 18 inch Compomotive M01882 wheels shod with 245/40 R18 Yokohama Advans. Exterior changes to the MR include, HID headlamps, updated tail lamps, Black Suede Recaro seats, carbon fibre finish rear trim. Mechanical changes saw S-AWC rear diff changes, a larger oil cooler core, ion coated piston rings, reinforced cylinder head and 5 layer head gasket compared to the 3 layer. The MR Edition also received engine updates and reliability changes. The engine updates include larger turbo diameter mouth, updated cam profiles, lighter balance shafts and changed from single wastegate solenoid to dual solenoid.

 

 

KS Motorsport’s Evo VIII gets a Tomie stroker kit with forged components that takes the 4G63’s stroke from 83.6mm to 94mm thereby increasing the engine capacity from 2.0 litres to 2.2 litres. It has a GT35 HTA reengineered turbocharger by Owen Developments in UK that is good for 700bhp. Other mods to the engine include an ETS exhaust manifold, a Links ECU, a KS Motorsports Intercooler with a Cryo Intercooler Spray kit and an HKS exhaust. To handle the additional power, the Evo gets an HKS Triple plate clutch as well.

 

 

The end result of all that is, massive turbo lag and then an insane amount of power delivered in bucket loads. It took me by surprise when I got into this after an E63 S AMG and that’s saying something. The rush is addictive it takes you a bit to process all that information, how long to hold the throttle pinned, when to change the gears, what speed to carry through this corner, is that truck too close…. The rabid nature of the power delivery is nothing to worry about because of the uncompromising chassis balance this car has.

 

 

   

 

The Evo VIII also saw the introduction of Super Active Yaw Control, which significantly improved traction and handling by transferring the torque between the rear wheels. The MR variant gets Bilstein Supersport dampers straight from the factory. And they are too good to be upgraded from. This particular car gets RS sport springs for that slightly tighter feel. You can’t put a finger on what it is, but the combination of a stiff chassis, good suspension and a clever powertrain makes it almost un-crash-able. Take any corner and any line you pick, the Evo will oblige. The earlier Evos based on the old Lancer chassis (CE) were all purer, but I actually prefer the Evos from VII to IX based on the Cedia (CG) platform. May be, it is the trick differential and the active yaw control, may be it is the stiffer chassis or the perceived sense of solidity it provides I am more at ease in one of these than the older cars. They are the perfect mix of digital and analogue – a blend of well-engineered mechanical bits and unobtrusive electronics – working in unison.

 

This Evo VIII also gets 356mm front with 6pot calipers and 330mm rear with 4 pot caliper brakes from AP racing which are a must with the power on tap. The car also gets a Cusco roll cage and lots of Ultra racing braces including rear room bar, underbody front frame holder, front strut brace, rear strut brace, side lower bars and front fender braces.

 

KS Motorsports and their love affair with Evos go a long way. For decades, they have been the go to guys if you want an Evo or a Evo conversion done on your existing Lancer. Karan also had an Evo VI and an Evo III conversion for me to sample which we drove and shot alongside this Evo VIII, but that’s a story for another day. Stay tuned.

 

MG Hector

There had been confirmed warnings for a long time that a Chinese invasion was underway and the Indians better be prepared for it. We saw it in the consumer electronics industry especially in the smartphone sector, where a number of the leading players are now Chinese. For cars, it’s now starting with the Hector and for what looks like a very intense battle, they seem to be carrying the right artillery. Don’t worry though, because as a customer, you would only benefit from it.

Here’s the headline – the Hector is a very big, comfortable car, with loads of equipment, decent engines, at a very tempting price. Now MG or Morris Garages may sound British, but it is only branded that way for a better connect with the Indian customers. The Hector is in fact the Baojun 530 sold by SAIC Motors in China. SAIC Motors who owns the MG brand, is the biggest car manufacturer in China – kind of like what Maruti is to India – only a lot bigger. China is a very big automotive market where the annual production exceeds that of the European Union or that of the United States and Japan combined.

 

The Hector is a handsome car when viewed from the front. The front grill is massive and imposing and there are slim DRLs extending to its edges. The headlamps are placed further lower in the bumper, as is the trend with most modern designs, and have beautiful detailing inside them. There are chrome details around and it makes the car look expensive. It is when you get to the sides that you wish they had done a better job. The wheels though they are 17 inchers look too small for the rest of the car. There isn’t much you can do about the smaller wheel arches either, and those make it look more MUV than SUV. The rear quarter glass and windscreen are pinched to make them look sleeker. The tail light that run across the full width of the car and rear valance on the bumper’s diffuser area are overdone details. The fit and finish leaves a lot of improvement with misfit panels, uneven panel gaps etc all visible across the car. Whether you like the styling or not, there is no escaping the sheer size of the Hector which measures 4655mm in length, 1835mm in width and standing 1760mm tall.

 

 

You will be pleasantly surprised by the interiors that are built like those of modern upmarket SUVs, once you get inside a Hector. There is a massive 10.4 inch touch screen taking centre stage here like in a Tesla or a Volvo. If you haven’t already noticed the ‘Internet Inside’ badging on the left fender (on the tail gate for the diesel version), this is what it is all about. You can greet the car, by saying “Hello MG” and it will respond to your commands. You can ask it to play the music, set the sat-nav or the temperature or open/close the driver side window or sunroof. It will even play videos off gaana and other apps. You can also control some of the car’s functions via a mobile phone, locate the car or check the stats from any part of the world. The touchscreen is a bit laggy and we prefer dedicated controls for everyday functions.

 

 

The Hector gets Cruise Control, 360 degree camera, Android Auto, Apple Car Play, a full panoramic roof, automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, heated ORVMs, keyless entry, tyre pressure monitoring, electric tail gate, mood lighting, six airbags, ESP, ABS etc. It is a long list, but surprisingly wireless charging isn’t present although the USBs are of the fast charging variety. Both front seats are electrically adjustable, but the passenger seat on the petrol hybrid variant isn’t, because of the presence of the battery pack underneath. Cabin quality in general is okay, but the plastics are somewhat mediocre. Some of the trim are ill fitting and the quality of artificial leather is quite basic. The meter console has yet another large screen integrated into it, but the reverse sweeping tachometer with its cramped redline markings till 8000rpm look distasteful, especially when you consider that both engines don’t rev that much.

 

          

 

The front seats are large and spacious but the lower back support isn’t well judged. You get good visibility and the ergonomics are okay. But the wide rear seat is the place to be in, in the Hector. It is one of the most comfortable rear seat experiences at that price point, with the best in class legroom, headroom and a reclinable back rest adding to the overall comfort. The boot space is very good too at 587 litres and the rear seats fold 60:40 for additional practicality.

 

 

Powering the Hector is a 1.5 litre turbo petrol and a 2.0 litre diesel engine. The Hector also comes in an automatic variant for the petrol, which we are yet to sample. The petrol engine makes 143bhp and 250Nm and uses a 48V system for Hybrid. MG claims the starter motor, which doubles up as the charger for the battery pack, provides as much as 20Nm to the powertrain when needed. The engine is very refined and easy to drive. It has a light clutch and there is a hint of turbo lag before it starts pulling properly. Once on the move, drivability is decent although there is a spike around 3800rpm. It is when we got to the steep inclines of Coonoor where we did the drive that the engine felt strained, needing a few extra downshifts to keep it going.

 

 

Interestingly, the diesel engine in the Hector is also the one that powers its competitors – the Compass and the Harrier. It has 170bhp and 350Nm like the Compass, but has been tuned to be more progressive. Yes, there is some turbo lag, but the sudden burst of power you feel in the Compass is not there. Like the Compass, it has a snappy clutch and you will stall it a few times initially. It is also on the heavier side and the tall gearing means you have to downshift more often than needed in the inclines too. It is a good relaxed cruiser on the highway and once on the move is very refined too.

 

The Hector isn’t a car you enjoy driving fast. The steering is vague, there is a huge amount of body roll and the narrow 215/60 R17 tyres run out of grip rather easily. The car understeers when pushed and it is easy to lose composure when you encounter a mid-corner bump. The steering is light enough for city use. The brakes which are discs all around, have good stopping power. Where it excels though, is the ride quality which when cruising is excellent. The Hector is best enjoyed when driven slowly, soaking up the scenery especially from the back seat where you take advantage of the full panoramic sunroof.

 

With ex.showroom prices ranging around Rs.12.18 to 16.88 lakhs, the Hector is fantastic value for money. It is spacious, comfortable, feature packed and has good engines to choose from. It also comes with 5 years unlimited kilometre warranty and MG claims the ownership costs will be the lowest in its class. They have also introduced attractive maintenance packages to take care of the car for five years. The value proposition as with any Chinese product is huge and that alone can make most customers gloss over most of the pitfalls. If the success of the Chinese smartphones are anything to go by, this is only the start.

 

 

Hyundai Venue

You are going to see tons of them on the road very soon. The Venue is the latest compact SUV from Hyundai and it’s stylish, desirable and above all quite affordable. Hyundai has been missing out on the sub 4 metre SUV market, while competition from Maruti, Ford, Mahindra and Tata had their offerings – the Brezza, Ecosport, XUV 300 and Nexon respectively, making up almost 50 percent of the total SUV sales in India. Unlike the Creta which is for developing markets, the Venue is more of a global product and will see simultaneous launches in various countries around the world. It has already been garnering good reviews in the US – a market which likes their SUVs in XXXL size. So what is it about the Venue, we find out.

These days, half the battle is won, if you get the styling right. The Venue looks like a smaller Creta, but with more pronounced wheel arches, it looks even more butch than its big brother. The cascading grille with big square mesh looked too garish and bling in the pics, but is much better and less noticeable in person. The indicators are those thin strips on the edges of the bonnet. The headlamps are further down on the bumper towards the corners which may raise a question or two about their safety in a minor crash. The side profile is nice, with minimal overhangs and the C pillar has an interesting interplay of lines. You will notice the car is much more rounded under the prominent waistline that runs across the sides and forms the bulges around the wheel arches. The rear is a bit plain in comparison, but you do get interesting LED tail lamps and a boot-lid that’s very well shaped.

 

 

Viewed from the side, the Venue looks small especially from a distance. That compact dimensions make it a very friendly car to drive in the city. The Venue measures 1590mm in height and 1770mm in width which makes it only slightly wider than the Ecosport. For reference, the XUV300 which is the widest car in its segment, measures 1821mm – even more than the Creta.

 

 

The dashboard looks quite nice and modern and has a quality feel to it. The HVAC controls are three circular elements (like in the Swift) but the middle one is just an LCD display and not a knob, which is unintuitive. Things that look like afterthought, include a flimsy air purifier that takes up one cupholder and a wireless charging pad that is connected to the cigarette lighter socket via a visible power cord like in the Creta. The steering wheel, which is reminiscent of some international models, is perfectly sized and nice to hold. The 8.0 inch centre touch screen has Android Auto and Apple Car Play, along with a connectivity feature that Hyundai calls the Blue Link. Blue Link uses a SIM card to offer a multitude of connectivity options, right from voice commands, remote assist, driver alerts, service reminders, theft warnings, to more advanced functions like starting the engine and turning on the climate control beforehand (petrol AT only),  and also locking and unlocking all via the phone app.

 

The cabin feels small from the driver’s perspective and that depending on how you see it, can be a good thing or a bad thing. The driver seat can be high enough to give you a good view of the bonnet’s edges, plus the overall feeling of compactness makes it an easy car to drive on our congested city roads. The presence of a sunroof adds some airiness to the cabin.  The rear seat is a bit short on legroom, but is comfy otherwise. The Venue has a reasonably large 350litre boot.

 

 

The Venue comes with the same 1.2 litre petrol and 1.4 litre diesel engine – both familiar units from the i20 – with 82bhp and 90bhp respectively. The pick of the range however is the new 1.0litre, direct injection, 3 cyl turbo petrol with 120bhp and 172Nm. This fairly high tech engine can be had with a six speed manual or a seven speed dual clutch automatic and those are the ones we tested. The engine is fairly refined for a three cylinder at idle and also on the move. It is only when you rev it hard that the characteristic three cylinder note is audible. The engine has a bit of turbo lag, and even past that, it doesn’t provide a solid kick in the back like you expect. Power comes in gently afterwards and the tall gearing is quite noticeable. The engine feels quite smooth-revving and can be quite energetic near the top end. The Manual transmission is easy to slot, and the clutch is smooth, but you do feel the engine’s lack of a fourth cylinder when you are moving off from a standstill.

 

The dual clutch automatic masks that rather well. You might be starting off in second gear every time and the additional punch a torque convertor automatic would have provided is missing here, but the gearbox is smooth in the way it upshifts. There is a manual mode if you want to change gears yourself but the auto mode is good enough for most occasions. It is not as enthusiastic as the ones in Volkswagens during downshifts, but that could also be in the interests of longevity. Also the clutch engagement is very progressive and jerk free. The DCT also delivers good fuel efficiency and we would have one over the manual.

 

Latest generation of Hyundai cars have come a long way in terms of driving dynamics and today, the Venue is even better to drive than a Creta. The suspension is slightly stiffer and you get a better sense of control. The steering is direct although you do not get much feedback. It rolls slightly and understeers when you push, but still remains manageable. A bit more damping would have made it much better to drive. The ride quality is decent. You do feel some bumps and ruts, and can tell it is a stiff setup. Hyundai doesn’t skimp on tyres and the Venue gets rather high profile 215/60 sections on 16 inch rims which are adequate for this.

 

With prices starting around Rs.6.5 lakhs and going all the way up to Rs.11.10 lakhs (all ex.showroom prices), the venue makes for a great buy. Mini Creta looks, killer pricing and adequate practicality makes the Venue a great choice for those looking for a compact SUV. It isn’t the most spacious car in its segment and if you are looking for a full size family car, you might find it a bit small to your liking. On the other hand, it makes for a perfect second car or a good city runabout. It also comes loaded with features such as six airbags, ESP, hill start assist, cruise control, automatic climate control, 8.0 inch touch screen infotainment, rear camera, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, Blue Link connectivity, wireless charging, sunroof, rear AC vents, ABS, EBD etc. The 1.0litre petrol with the dual clutch automatic, along with the compact dimensions make it the ultimate urban SUV out there.

 

Petrobug