The Sub-Compact and Mini SUV segment is currently one of the hottest and fastest growing one and Hyundai got its very first model for it with the Venue last year. The Venue has been received very well since it’s launch selling huge numbers. Hyundai had revealed the Venue to the Indian media in the middle of the Arabian Sea on a Luxury Ship and at the same time to the global media at the 2019 New York Auto Show. In India Hyundai has received a huge positive response for the Venue and the Compact SUV has been creating a huge buzz right since its launch. The Venue stepped into the Compact SUV segment which was majorly dominated by the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza followed by the Tata Nexon, Ford EcoSport and the Mahindra XUV3OO. Recently the Korean carmaker introduced India’s first IMT transmission with the Venue in India. Now IMT transmission or intelligent Manual Transmission in simple words is an advanced version of the manual transmission but without a physical clutch. The transmission intelligently engages the clutch automatically based on the throttle inputs and the engine rpm. Here we have with us the Hyundai IMT to get you our exclusive and extensive road test review, so stay there and read on to know all on the latest avatar of the Korean Sub Compact SUV.
Food for Thought
The Venue is the first sub 4-meter Compact SUV from the Korean car maker Hyundai. The Venue is based on the Carlino concept that was showcased at the 2016 Delhi Auto Expo. The Venue is inspired from the bigger offerings from Hyundai like the SantaFe, Palisade and more so from the Creta. The Venue received more than 2000 bookings in a single day when Hyundai opened bookings for it. The Venue is also the 1st car from Hyundai to get a Dual Clutch Automatic transmission option and a Turbo Petrol engine for the Indian market. The Venue also gets the latest generation BlueLink technology among other features on it for the first time for India.
The Venue has always been a good smart looking little SUV with its upright stance and typical SUV-ish boxy yet trendy body styling. The front of the car is dominated by a huge mesh grille which is finished in dark chrome giving the car a premium appeal. Turn signal indicators are now placed where the headlamps normally are and the main headlamp assembly is neatly integrated within the bumper. The cube-shaped Projector Headlamps with fully surrounding LED DRL adds to the distinctive and modern looks to front. Coming to the side is when you notice that it looks somewhat like Creta, especially the roof and the shoulder line.
The sides get black plastic cladding lower down on the doors, blacked out A & B-pillars and the flared wheel arches adds some character to the overall design of the car. Not to forget the 16-inch dual-tone diamond cut alloy wheels with 215/ 60 R16 MRF Wanderer tyres looks gorgeous to say the least. The rear of the car is where things get mighty interesting. The rear skid-plate and the tiny patterned designed elements on the black portion of the rear bumper, on either side, just shows the amount of detail which is gone in developing this car. The reversing light is surrounded by red reflectors place on either side of the rear bumper. Also, the car comes with rear parking sensors as standard across all variants. The tail lamp assembly is again, all LED and comes with crystal effect, which looks distinctive and gives the car an up market appeal. Last on the list is the shark fin antenna which integrates well not only with the roof, but, also with the overall design, giving the car a naughty sporty look.
The Venue IMT looks exactly like the other trims of the Compact SUV. The one we are testing here is the top of the line Sport trim. This trim comes with dual tone exterior color, sport emblem, red brake calipers, glossy black front grille with red insert dark grey front bumper garnish & dark grey roof rail with red inserts. You also get neat red inserts on all the four fenders and the running board.
Step inside the Venue and you will be welcomed with comfortable and supportive front seats. The ergonomics of the car is bang on, very typical of Hyundai. All the switches, aircon controls, gear shifter, handbrake, power window control and electric external rear view mirror controls falls right within arm’s reach. The multi-function steering wheel is meaty and feels good to hold. The instrument cluster consists of two large round white backlit analog dials (speedometer & tachometer) and a multi-information display which sits right in the middle. The dashboard is finished in black and the aircon vents are surrounded with silver finished outline.
The highlight of the interiors has to be the 8-inch high resolution infotainment display with Hyundai’s latest Blue Link technology. Blue Link technology allows you to remotely turn on/ off the car, set the aircon to desired temperature, immobilize the vehicle, incase its stolen, just by sending an SMS from the Blue Link app which you need to install on your mobile phone. All these connected features are made possible due to an E-SIM service from one of the leading telecom operator in the country. Right below the display are a few switches to jump directly into navigation, maps, settings etc, and below that are the automatic climate control rotary knobs with integrated display that remind you of the Mini Cooper and feel super premium to use giving you just that satisfying feel while using them.
Now for the add-on’s that come with the Venue IMT Sport, you get a d-cut flat bottom steering, metal pedals, dark grey premium fabric upholstery, red color accents on knobs and red stitching piping on upholstry, door trim, steering, electric sun roof to name a few. You also get the regular 6-speed manual shiftier stick that works without the clutch.
Engine – iMT Transmission – Drive
Powering the iMT version of the Hyundai Venue is the same 1.oL Kappa Turbo GDi 3-cylinder petrol engine which produces 118bhp @ 6000rpm and churns out a healthy 17.5kgm of torque between 1500-4000rpm. This Turbo Petrol engine is mated to a 6-speed transmission that is controlled by highly a team of advanced sensors that intelligently shift the gear correctly matching the engine RPM and speed after shifted by the driver using the manual shifter.
The Turbo GDi engine is a gem of an engine and here with the iMT transmission shines right from the word go. Let me confess here that the first time that i got into the iMT Venue I was not really knowing how or what this new transmission would really be like. Start the car using the push button starter and the GDi engine comes to life with a peppy roar. now is when the fun starts but remember the car wont start if the it is in any gear just like a normal manual transmission one. Slot it into Neutral and it comes to life. Shift to the 1st gear using the shifter but wait you dont have the clutch on the left foot. What do you do? simply lock your foot on the dead pedal that provided. release the brake and press the accelerator pedal. Speed builds up very nicely and evenly. Now the shift indicator will prompt you to shift to the 2nd, or your instinct will. Simply shift to the 2nd effortlessly. building up speeds shift to the 3rd and then 4th. You will have a wide grin on your face by now for sure going through this effortless shifting and the fun factor that it involves.
We were soon doing good speeds and were in the 6th gear, now comes the next highlight of this transmission. Try shifting to the 1st gear at high speeds and though the shifter slots into the 1st gear the transmission does not shift to it. You get beep warnings from the cluster and also the display asks you to shift into the right gear like the 4th or 5th. Shift into those gears and the intelligent transmission engages the gears and you are back in business. You have this advanced intelligent actuator that manages things for you.
The gear shifts are very precise and positive, there is nearly any lag experienced during normal drive conditions. The biggest highlight on this highly advanced gearbox is that no matter how or at wot RPM you shift the electronics in this box match the engine RPM perfectly so that there is no jerk or stutter between shifts like many have during manual gear shifts. The over all drive feel is excellent and very comforting more due to the iMT transmission. The gear shifts are perfect and faster than the AMT or CVT transmissions. The turbo kicks in between 1500 rpm-2000 rpm and that’s when you can feel the power surge get into the wheels.
Many of you must be having this question in your mind that can you stall the engine if you shift into a wrong gear? Well the answer is a big NO! As the clutch is operated automatically the car does not stall if you stop fully in any gear. The intelligence of this transmission comes in the picture if you forget to downshift, for example you were at 85kmph on the 6th gear and then slowed down for a turn but forgot to downshift. The transmission simple beeps and asks you to downshift to 2nd gear as simple as that. Same thing also implies if you want to start-off say directly from the 3rd gear or maybe the 4th or 5th, the gears just doesn’t engage and the warning beep comes on asking you to shift either to the 1st or 2nd gear for lift-off.
Now we found out two ways for shifting the gears, first is by lifting your foot slightly from the gas pedal as you would in a regular manual transmission. The second way is when you are driving in a more spirited manner, you can actually shift without lifting your foot from the gas pedal and this wonderfully intelligent transmission allows that too. Also let me add here that you can take the engine rpm all the way to the red line and the engine does not complain. You can also shift at the red line while the automatic clutch does all the math and ensures that there is no jerk during high rev shifts too. Not forgetting to mention here that the iMT gearbox also comes with a good Hill Hold function that also works flawlessly as and when needed.
The Venue with the iMT transmission is best of both the worlds, you get the fun factor of shifting gears manually and also the convenience and comfort of not having to constantly using your left foot for the clutch. The Venue always came with the Manual and the DCT gearbox from day one, now the iMT transmission sits just between these two offering the buyer one more option to choose from. You can pick the iMT varient of the Venue over its Manual version with only a cost difference of around Rs. 20,000 making it a steal deal considering that the DCT transmission trim is around Rs. 1.14 Lakh costlier than the MT. The fuel economy on the iMT is also same to the manual version as it uses the same gearbox components. Hyundai have been pioneers in getting the latest technology since long and now yet again with the iMT transmission on the Venue they become India’s 1st car manufacturer to use this advanced tech. If you are considering the Manual transmission version of the Venue then we strongly urge you to consider the ground breaking iMT version for sure. By the end of the drive we were totally fallen in Love with this flawless and fun filled unique transmission with prices starting at Rs. 9.99 Lakh.
Review – Ritesh Madhok
Photography & Video – Govind Gadekar