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- Jul 14, 2019
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The Hyundai Venue’s features and pricing make us wonder if you even need a car like the Creta anymore. Then again, we could say that about cars like the XUV300 and EcoSport too.
They’ve got the feel-good factor, the tech and they’re good fun for those who love driving too. So, has Hyundai figured out how to do this job better than them or does the old crop give you enough reason to be chosen over the new kid on the block?
It’s a simple enough question, so this review is going to be a simple Q&A session.
Which One’s The Best Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing?
It’s difficult to look big and imposing when you’re no longer than the average premium hatchback. But if there’s one car that does that job convincingly, it’s the Ford EcoSport, especially in this top-spec ‘S’ variant. With the facelift, it does look more aggressive and the muscular styling is complemented not only by the unique, tailgate-mounted spare wheel but also features like the HID headlights and those gorgeous 17-inch alloys.
Oops! Well, now they’re a more India-friendly set of 16’’ for reasons that’ll be made evident later in this review. But thanks to the S grade’s black grille, black fog lamp bezels & black roof rails, the EcoSport does a good job of looking menacing in the minuscule sub-4 metre length limitation. On a side note, it looks absolutely ravishing if specced with a race red exterior. The disadvantage? Even with a thorough facelift, there’s no getting around the fact that this is a familiar design. One that’s been in India since 2013 and doesn’t have the same novelty of an all-new car.
Comparatively, the Venue’s design does look newer but also soberer. It’s distinctive but much like the Hyundai Creta, plays it relatively safe in the design department. What Hyundai’s got right are the traditional SUV design cues. Flat bonnet? Check. Square-ish stance? Check. Even lighting elements like the tail lamps & bumper-integrated DRLs sport a squared pattern and it does well in avoiding the look of a curvy crossover.
No HIDs like the EcoSport S, but the Venue does get halogen projectors, which unlike the others, sit in the front bumper and not above it. It’s possibly the most intelligent design here because it’s not too masculine or feminine and is of potentially equal appeal to both sexes.
The Mahindra XUV300 is the big statement maker here. It’s the widest car with the biggest wheelbase in this comparison and until you look at the side profile, it appears no different than a midsize SUV, given that it’s the only one here that’s actually based on one. Universally appealing? That’s something the Venue and EcoSport do better. But the XUV300’s oversized taillights, sporty-looking 17’’ alloys and tusk-like DRLs that slice their way into the front bumper make quite the statement and it has the strongest personality here.
Which One Feels The Richest Inside?
When it comes to snob value inside, in terms of touch and feel, it’s the XUV300 that takes top trumps. The quality of plastics and the leatherette upholstery is rich enough to make you feel like you’re sitting in something from a segment above. The design, too, is anything but boring. However, the button-heavy dashboard does make it look dated. The cabin is more or less a cut & paste from the SsangYong Tivoli, which was first launched in South Korea in 2015, so while the quality tickles your inner snob, the layout is a bit long in the tooth.
The Venue doesn’t feel as rich as the XUV300 but is still plenty premium standalone. Fit and finish is consistent, the plastics feel durable and the design is an excellent balance of modern and traditional. Traditional because you get boxy styling for the AC vents and inner door handles, along with a flat-ish dashboard that puts less trim between the seats and the windshield, like in a traditional SUV (ala G-Class/Jeep Wrangler).
It’s also a thoughtful interior. Sorted ergonomics aside, little touches like the seat upholstery improve the Venue’s sensibility. You do get leatherette upholstery, but it’s on the seat bolstering. The inner portion of the backrest and seat base get a fabric finish. Since leather absorbs heat, it’s better to have cloth behind your back and booty, since these bits sweat the most.
The EcoSport has the same sense (leatherette+cloth upholstery), at least in the S variant (Titanium+ seats are leatherette only). It’s also a very well built cabin. The plastics, though, feel a tad industrial vs Venue i.e. they aren’t as smooth, but that aside, no reason for complaint.
Best Tech For Your Money?
While none of these cars are lacking in features, the Venue comes across as the best tech pack when it comes to real-world usability. For instance, the EcoSport & Venue get 8-inch touchscreen infotainment systems, while the XUV300 gets a 7-inch setup, all equipped with Android Auto & Apple CarPlay.
But while the Venue & EcoSport offer a great user interface and excellent screen response, Hyundai offers this setup on the SX, SX+ & SX (O) variants. With its recent update, only the EcoSport S gets the 8-inch screen. The lower variants, including the Titanium+, get a 9-inch touchscreen sans SYNC3 and hence miss out on Apple & Google’s proprietary connectivity apps.
The Venue’s music system is also our favourite of the trio. Hyundai’s BlueLink also opens a new realm of telematics and remote operation that the others miss out on. The XUV300’s touchscreen doesn’t feel as fluid to use as the others, nor is the screen resolution as good.
Common to all the cars here are adjustable front & rear headrests, front & rear armrests, 6-speaker sound systems, sunroof, auto AC, cruise control, passive keyless entry and push-button start. But they also have some unique features, where the XUV300 darts ahead in numbers.
- Rear AC vents
|- Telescopic steering adjustment||
- Dual-zone AC
Which One Offers The Best Rear Seat Experience?
For sheer width, the XUV300 is the best pick here. In fact, it has a good 40mm of added shoulder room over the Venue, and a full 105mm more than the EcoSport. The amount of shoulder room on offer makes it very capable at seating three abreast, with a good amount of knee room too. However, the seat base itself offers very poor support, so even one person sitting at the rear will be let down by the under-thigh support and it can get taxing on your knees over long drives. Prudent to note, this isn’t because of the seat base length, but more because the base itself sits closer to the floor.
The Venue & EcoSport’s rear seats can accommodate three, but it’s a squeeze vs the XUV300. This isn’t helped by the black interiors that make their cabins feel smaller than they actually are.
However, given that these cars are rarely going to run with all the seats occupied, it’s the Venue that offers the most balanced rear seat experience. Its seatback is a little more relaxed, it’s on par with the EcoSport in knee room for two six-footers one behind the other and crucially, the glass area is larger so you don’t feel hemmed in at the rear as you do in the EcoSport. Of course, there’s also the bonus of rear AC vents.
Battle Of The Boots
Here, it’s a toss between the EcoSport & Venue. Both offer 350-litre boots but the Ford has a proper tailgate vs the hatchback-style rear of the Venue. The EcoSport’s setup makes it more difficult to use in cramped parking spaces since it needs a wider berth to be opened. The XUV300 is a distant third at just 259 litres and the tiny boot can’t even afford to have a parcel tray.
Best For The City?
Given that these cars have been designed with the urban jungle in mind, none of them are what you’d call ‘bad’ for daily commutes. But the best pick here is the XUV300. Not only are all the controls super light, it’s also the punchiest car here. Overtakes take no planning and the surge of performance is instantaneous. If you’re between 2-4th gear in city, it’s unlikely you would need a downshift for city overtakes.
Being the most powerful and more importantly, the torquiest SUV here, it comes as no surprise that the XUV300 is over a second quicker than the Venue and nearly 2.5 seconds quicker than the EcoSport in the 30-80kmph climb in third gear.
The Venue is a close second. It’s just as light and easy to use in the city and the power delivery is even smoother and more progressive than the XUV’s but misses out on that extra bit of punch that makes the Mahindra nicer to use. Ford’s EcoSport has plenty of punch but the turbo lag is a lot more evident, which does warrant more planning for overtakes. Additionally, both the steering wheel and clutch pedal are on the heavier side, with the latter having more travel than in the others too.
The XUV300’s low-speed ride quality is also the most comfortable here and it deals with small bumps and speed breakers with more poise. The Venue is comfortable for the most part but road imperfections can be felt in the cabin and aren’t ironed out as well as they are in the XUV300. However, the EcoSport is stiff. And we wouldn’t put this down to just our test car’s now deleted 17-inch wheels. The same stiff suspension also played spoilsport over imperfect roads in our long term EcoSport Titanium that had 16-inch wheels. Road imperfections can be felt in the cabin quite easily and any experience with larger bumps will make you drive slowly over rough patches.
The EcoSport was also the least efficient in our city efficiency test, although it delivered a respectable 13.84kmpl vs the XUV300’s 15.40kmpl & the Venue’s mighty impressive 18.95kmpl.
|Hyundai Venue||Mahindra XUV300||Ford EcoSport|
|0-100kmph||12.49 sec||12.21 sec||12.36 sec|
|8.26 sec||6.97 sec||9.38 sec|
|14.04 sec||11.07 sec||15.17 sec|
Take Me Touring
Yet again, it’s the XUV300 that proves to be the best highway cruiser. That punchy engine ensures quick high speed overtakes and relaxed cruising for long-distance journeys. The Venue doesn’t have the same effortlessness on the ghats or highways for overtakes but doesn’t feel lacking either. The boon of a 6th gear also makes cruising good fun and even the engine noise is muffled best in the Venue.
While we love the punch the EcoSport offers at high speeds, the turbo lag is very evident. You have to be in the right gear, especially on inclines or during tight overtakes, or risk losing power drastically. It also misses out on a 6th gear so it sits at higher revs at 80-100kmph. This isn’t helped by the clattery diesel engine. It’s quite noisy in the cabin and sounds rather agricultural.
Both the XUV300 and Venue offer better high-speed ride comfort as well, dealing with undulations with more maturity. That said, all three competitors feel very planted and stable at high speeds and while the Venue & XUV300 feel more at home for highway duties, the EcoSport is still a great partner for inter-city trips.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to test the EcoSport’s highway efficiency, but this report will be updated with that figure soon. In our tests, both the Venue & XUV300 managed nearly 20kmpl, which is particularly impressive in the XUV300, given the additional punch it offers with this efficiency.
Most Fun to Drive?
It’s hard to define this bit with metrics, of course, and there’s no one winner, per se. The XUV300 is epic when it comes to straight-line punch. Leave it in any gear and it picks up speed blisteringly quick. It’s also a decent handler, but the suspension is tuned with comfort in mind so it isn’t as sharp as the EcoSport through corners. The EcoSport’s dynamics feel the most purposeful. The steering is sharp and the chassis lets you dive in and out of corners without ever letting you get bored.
The Venue does things differently. It doesn’t have the outright punch of the XUV300 but you don’t have to push hard to find usable performance. It’s also surprisingly good at corner carving, in a very un-Hyundai like fashion. The car stays flat through turn-ins and the steering, while not as communicative as the EcoSport’s, is very responsive.
The thing it does best, though, is feeling less diesel-like. Power delivery in the Venue is very progressive and unlike the other two, it eggs you on to push closer to the redline. To explain it in simple terms, the performance graphs in the XUV300 and EcoSport shoots up quicker but then plateau, as is the norm for turbo-diesel engines. In the Venue, there’s always something more to gain as you push the engine to the limit. It’s also got the slickest shifting gearbox here and operating the lever is more engaging than in the others.
As standard, all three cars offer dual front airbags, ABS with EBD & rear parking sensors. ISOFIX is standard in the Venue & XUV300, while it’s limited to the Titanium+ AT & S variants of the EcoSport.
All three also get hill start assist, traction control, ESP, front fog lamps, auto headlamps and a rear camera in their higher variants. Only the Venue misses out on auto headlamps and a tyre pressure monitor, but it’s also the only one to offer BlueLink safety tech like setting up a geofence, speed alerts, car tracking and vehicle health monitoring.
While the EcoSport and Venue get up to six airbags, the XUV300 gets seven. The Mahindra also gets front parking sensors, heated wing mirrors & rear fog lamps. Strong as their safety packages are, the Venue and XUV300 offer that bit more.
The Balancing Act
The Ford EcoSport still makes for a great buy as a diesel sub-compact SUV. It feels solidly built, is well-equipped and does a good job as a four-seater. It’s also the sharpest handler of the lot and is still an exciting car to drive. However, it’s lacking when it comes to ride comfort & refinement and the interior doesn’t feel as polished. Even with the extensive updates and sometimes annoying variant rejigs, the Ecosport simply is showing its age.
The XUV offers the richest interior here and even has the punchiest engine. It also has heaps of features to offer and makes quite the statement. But it could've done better in the rear seat department and it certainly needs a bigger, more practical boot. But most of all, in the Venue’s company, that added price does seem like a lot to ask.
Diesel Manual Prices
|Rs 7.74 lakh - Rs 10.84 lakh||Rs 8.69 lakh - Rs 12.14 lakh||
Rs 8.31 lakh - Rs 11.35 lakh
Why? It’s because the Venue offers the best tech package here, feels almost as rich as the XUV300, and while it’s not as sharp as the EcoSport or as punchy as the XUV, it’s a great balance of usability, fun & value. It may not seem like it on first impressions but the cabin's very accommodating too. And then, you get all of this at a serious bang-for-buck price, making the new kid on the block the best balance and also the best bargain here.
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