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If there ever was an overcrowded segment in the auto industry, the compact SUV sector would be it. There are so many options to choose from that it can be sort of overwhelming to sit down and decide which vehicle to purchase. That’s why we, Nepal Drives, are here. But that’s not the point we are trying to make.

What we are getting at is how difficult it can be to be noticed and to stand out. This is especially true because most of the offerings in the segment are so similar to each other. Each new car is as good as the next, and there are very few major differentiating factors. And that means making a really big disruption in this pond of compact SUVs is no easy task. Despite this, the Hyundai Venue has managed to make a considerable splash. It has managed to make some noise in the market, but that is usually the case when Hyundai brings in a new product.

One could say they have been riding the success wave that the Hyundai Creta brought into the market. But, more importantly, they have always been on top of their marketing game, on social media and elsewhere. Then the question comes to this: is the Hyundai Venue a product pushed through smart marketing? Or is it worth the hype that it has been able to muster? We find out.

THE WAY IT LOOKS IS CERTAINLY WORTH TALKING ABOUT.

You can tell the manufacturers have taken bits and pieces from their lineups to make the Venue, but it is still a brand new car. At first glance, you might see glimpses of the Creta in the venue, but the designers have gone a step further to ensure it isn’t just a rehash of their existing lineup.

It is distinctive, with its split headlamps and large cascading black chrome grille. It also squeezes under the 4-meter mark and it certainly looks compact, but it does not lose out on the appeal.

The plastic body cladding, roof rails, flared wheel arches, the 16-inch wheels, all work to give the Venue a deceptively large presence. Attention to detail is evident from the stylish front end as well as the dazzlingly detailed tail lamps. There is a robust, almost boxy air to the overall design which is Hyundai’s next-generation design language borrowed from the Hyundai Palisade and the Santa Fe.

INSIDE, IT IS PREMIUM.

And you sense that the moment you’re seated in the plush seats and holding the thick-rimmed steering wheel. For one thing, you get a cooled glove box to store your beverages and keep them cool. You can charge your phone wirelessly if you have a phone that supports the feature. Then there is an electric sunroof if you want to let the sun in, and a manual blind to sheath yourself from direct sunlight. If that wasn’t enough, you also get an Air Purifier equipped with Hepa filter which cleans the air in the car to maintain a healthy cabin atmosphere.

The top of the dash is nice to the touch, the aircon vents are smoothly detailed, and the buttons on the steering wheel and climate control feel premium. The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment is where the action happens. Not only does it boast of Apple/Android integration, navigation, and Arkamys-tuned sound it is your portal into the bundled BlueLink connected car tech. Although it will be some time before Nepal gets to enjoy all the features that come with it.

Nevertheless, the cabin is still a very pleasant place to be in. You can reconfirm if the feeling is mutual with your passengers who will be enjoying the contrasting coolness of the cabin from the sweltering midsummer heat thanks to the rear aircon vents. You will be grateful for the space between you and your co-passengers, which means you will not be bumping into them every time you go to shift gears.

Even the rear passengers, three of whom can comfortably fit in the rear seat, will be pleasantly surprised with the amount of space available in the cabin. The central hump isn’t too high, and it’s wide enough to be able to place both feet on it. Legroom is fairly good, with a lot of room under the front seats.

LET’S GET INTO THE 1.0-LITER ENGINE NOW.

Yes, you read that right. But it’s a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged motor, so don’t write it off just yet. There is an option of a 1.2L petrol and 1.4L diesel engine, but you might want to know what this little engine has to offer.  We were driving the 1.0 Liter turbo petrol engine with a 6-speed manual transmission. If you’re thinking the three cylinders compromise on the refinement, you’d be wrong; at least at lower revs and at idle. In fact, the common man or woman will be none the wiser to the deducted cylinder.

Neither is it a slouch. Shift into gear and get going with your right foot and you’re presented with a linear output of power that gets the Hyundai Venue up and running at a brisk pace. You will reach triple-digit speeds quicker than you anticipated (though, if anyone asks, we do not recommend you exceed the speed limits set by the government of Nepal). The turbocharger does wonders for the Venue, and it far surpasses your assumptions of a modest 1.0-liter engine.

Most of the bumps and potholes are petered out by the excellent suspension, the importance of which we cannot overstate considering our road infrastructures. Even on the turns, you don’t really experience intolerable body roll. Nevertheless, the soft, cushiony ride provided by the Hyundai Venue is definitely geared more towards city driving.

Also, geared towards city driving are the light clutch and steering. If you are looking for a relaxed driving experience, the Venue is the “place to be” (get it?). Having said that, we will have to admit that we weren’t completely bowled over by this factor. The steering is extremely light, like with most Hyundai cars, and we would have welcomed a little more feedback. You sort of miss out on the driving fun, but in the hullaballoo of an overcrowded city it will keep you relaxed on your way to work and back. Maybe we’re just being finicky at this point, but a little more feedback would have been the cherry on top.

THIS IS WHAT WE THINK.

First off, the success of the Hyundai Venue is not only credited to the marketing gimmicks. It is a great vehicle that goes over and beyond with the features and amenities on offer. If the creature comforts and fancy frills tickle your fancy, you will want to have a look at the Hyundai Venue.

Also, in terms of the driving experience, we can definitely see ourselves getting into the Hyundai Venue and heading out to work every day without a complaint in the world. Once again, the feature-rich characteristic will make life easier. Overall, the Hyundai Venue has earned the right of being the center of attention in the automotive crowd because it HAS managed to stand out in the crowded compact SUV segment. But what if you’re looking for a more basic car? What if the bells and whistles aren’t what you’re looking for? What if you don’t want to stand out in a crowd? Then maybe the Hyundai Venue isn’t for you. With time the cars that come into the market are going to get fancier, and you’re going to get more frills with each upcoming model.

Of course, it all comes at a price. The tricky part is balancing the price point with the utility derived from the product. The limits of this balance are being pushed constantly by manufacturers, and it is becoming more and more difficult for customers to decide on buying from the top of the line in the segment, or to jump to the higher, subsequent segment of vehicles. This is where the Hyundai Venue sits, right at the tip of the fulcrum of this balance, and it resides amongst the cream of the crop in the segment. That is why it is the talk of the town, that is why it stands out.

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