The Indian auto market is buzzing over the Hyundai Motor Company’s global entry SUV Venue. Since its release in the Indian market back in May, over 50,000 Venues have been reserved and 18,000 vehicles have been sold and delivered, all within only two months. Its June sales record stood at 8,763, coming in second in the sales rankings of the segment, slightly tailing the first-ranked Maruti Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza (8,871). Given that it is a newcomer to the market, Venue’s performance is unusual—above the rosiest of expectations, to be sure.
The Indian auto market to this point has been dominated by small hatchbacks. But recently, the balance has been tipping to small SUVs. Contrary to the global trend of big SUV’s dominance, roughly half of all SUV sales in India has been in small segments, a reflection of the market’s valuation of practicality and cost-efficiency. Ample space relative to the vehicle size and low maintenance costs are cited as obvious reasons for the small SUV’s high performance in the market.
Of course, local market traits like bumpy pavements and government subsidies on small cars are contributing to the rise of the small SUVs. Indian roads are notorious for cracks and potholes, which makes SUV’s high ground clearance attractive. Moreover, cars with lengths under four meters are eligible for tax breaks (Venue’s Indian release is accordingly a bit shorter than the Korean release). Hyundai’s current vehicle lineup in India includes Active i20, a small crossover hatchback, and Creta, a compact SUV. Venue’s positioning in between the two meets the large niche of the Indian market that the brand is hoping to address.
At two months’ mark since the release, how are the local Indian media’s impressions of the Venue? A great majority of Indian auto magazines covered the Venue in feature articles the past two months. The most focused attention came from the Indian edition of the U.K.’s CAR Magazine. The magazine placed the Venue in its cover and noted its fresh designs and high build quality inside and out: its daylight driving lights were said to be “luxurious,” its interior finish received high scores relative to competitors, and its interior space was both ample and ergonomically designed. Smooth but powerful powertrain and soft handling were also mentioned as noteworthy.
Indian edition of U.K.’s Autocar and local Indian auto magazine Overdrive also showed quite an interest in the Venue. The two magazines both gave the vehicle a trial run and compared it to that of its competitors, detailing the marketability of each model. The Venue’s competitors in the Indian market are Ford Ecosport, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon, and Mahindra XUV300. We look to the results of the comparison below.
The Venue’s main engine in India is the maximum 120-horsepower 1.0 gasoline turbo and the 90-horsepower 1.4 Diesel. Maruti Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza, a local bestseller that borrows from the Japanese maker Suzuki’s tech expertise, uses 90-horsepower 1.2 Diesel Engine, while Ford Ecosport uses 120-horsepower 1.5 gasoline engine. Local Indian-maker stalwarts Mahindra XUV300 and Tata Nexon both use 110-horsepower 1.2 Gasoline Turbo as their main engines.
In a similar trial-ride comparison with Ford Ecosport and Tata Nexon, Autocar noted quick acceleration as the Venue’s strength. The engine’s plentiful torque, fast gearshift from the dual-clutch transmission (DCT), and comfortable ride feel also received mentions. Overdrive gave high scores to Venue’s styling and space—a crisp design that appears compact but makes a statement of presence through the large grille. In a collective test of five SUVs by the magazine’s six editors, three chose Venue in the styling category.
Overdrive praised the Venue’s high-tech convenience features as well, citing the vehicle’s first introduction of the connected car feature (known as Bluelink) to the Indian market. Wireless charging and three USB ports, unheard of in the small SUV lines, were also given high marks. The Indian edition of the U.K.’s Evo explored the Bluelink technology in greater detail. The magazine praised the feature’s ability to use the linked smartphone to start the engine, to turn on the AC, to lock or unlock the vehicle, and even to call for emergency help or find the car through GPS in the event that the vehicle is stolen. Evo summarized that the Venue offers everything the consumers of the segment would want—a vehicle that did not make a compromise.
With the second-largest population (approx. 1.35 billion) in the world and relatively low level of car ownership (35 cars per 1,000 people), India boasts the auto market with the highest potential. In contrast, China has 144, the U.S. 840, Japan 600, and Korea has 430 cars per 1,000 people. This is the reason why global car manufacturers are headed India’s way. And the Venue has made good early strides in one of the most competitive and growing sectors of the Indian market, the practical small SUVs—its future performance in both the domestic and the global market therefore brings high expectations.