The 1.4 turbo diesel unit in the Hyundai Venue, to put it in perspective, is the epitome of the middle class salaried employee. You just know, that Mr. Venue will get up every morning at a designated time, get to work on time, perform just as he was expected and help the company get the desired results. Day in and day out, that employee will toil at his desk thanklessly, reliably, effortlessly, never asking to be put under the spotlight and never complaining. That employee is the backbone of the company, his contributions are immeasurable, without him, the senior management couldn't take the company forward. Simply feed it annual increments and it will happily go about its job. That is exactly what the Venue's diesel is, a working class hero! It's the workforce of the Venue portfolio, it won't get the limelight like the 1.0-litre turbo petrol will, but that the diesel will stabilise the boat.
To know more about the Venue and its much touted petrol powertrain, read this. The diesel on the other hand is a simpler engine, if you can call it that. It is turbocharged, has direct injection, and you should be very familiar with this engine because it's the same diesel that powers the Creta and the i20, though in different states of tune.
The advantage the Venue enjoys is the lighter kerb weight which now gets you great performance. The turbo spools up pretty quickly so you don't feel any turbo lag, you get maximum torque at just 1,500rpm and that bounty is available right up to 2,750rpm. But what impressed me most is the noise, or rather the lack of it. This is a brilliantly refined engine, the only sound at any given point was a high speed knock that rang in somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000rpm, and which I could put down to impure fuel. In retrospect, I'd easily pick the diesel over the petrol, simply because it's a much more fun car to drive. That thrill is also complemented by the 6-speed manual transmission. It's slick, very slick. Short throws and ratios that are well matched to the engines torque curve makes it all seem effortless. And the linearity that you'd want is available in any gear. You can safely stick it in fifth or sixth gear, cruise pleasantly and step on the throttle when desired to get an instant spurt of torque and build speed. I tend to lean towards diesels simply for that reason, they are just so much more effortless to drive and the Venue captures all those characteristics very nicely.
The road from Guwahati to Shillong, has barely any straight patches on it and it just climbs and climbs forever. You will hit a patch or two that are flat but then it continues climbing again. It is also very twisty, with some sweeping and some extremely sharp curves. Through all this the engine never falters, you don't have to drop a gear. Simply modulate the throttle, drop the revs to the meatier part of the torque band and whack the throttle open again when the road opens up. The Venue leaps forward effortlessly building speed rapidly. If not for that incessant and highly irritating speed buzzer at a 120kmph, I'd easily be holding much higher speeds without feeling stressed.
That said the Venue diesel is also as stable as it gets. More so, it has got the best steering I've ever experienced on a Hyundai. Precisely weighted and direct, it helps you guide the Venue almost intuitively. The suspension is also well sorted, for most parts you can push this compact SUV confidently into corners, the only other vehicle in its category that would come close and is as much fun is the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza. There is a negligible amount of body roll, the slight undulations of the road surface can be felt in the cabin but at no time do you feel less in control of the vehicle. A proper test will give us better data on this aspect as the terrain we were driving on, keep in mind, was hilly and twisty with very little room to maintain high speeds for long periods.
There is no doubt the Venue diesel will be a strong contributor to the success of the brand. While the bookings clearly show consumers leaning heavily towards the petrol, the 35 per cent diesel orders are respectable enough. Overall then was there anything lacking in the diesel, I'd say no. It all boils down to an economic choice, and while I haven't entirely done the math, I believe given the higher price of the petrol automatic, somewhere the cost to value ratio between the diesel and petrol will be a narrower margin than anticipated. And I don't believe I'm saying this, but if you do want a bit more driving pleasure out of your Venue, choose the diesel.
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