What is it?
Why I would buy it- All the involvement of a manual but without the effort of operating a clutch
Why I would avoid it- Only available in a higher-spec trim
The Hyundai Venue has been a major success for the South Korean automaker since its arrival last year with good features and multiple drivetrain options on offer. Now Hyundai has added another weapon in the Venue’s arsenal in the form of the intelligent manual transmission (iMT). Mated to the 1.0-litre GDi turbo petrol, it offers a two-pedal setup but with all the benefits of a manual gearbox while eliminating the human effort required in operating a clutch pedal. We have explained in detail the inner workings of an iMT in a separate story and you can read about that here
Are there any changes to the exterior design?
In the present, the iMT is available in the SX, SX (O) and the SX Sport trim the last of which is the car that we have driven. In addition to the iMT tech, it stands out from the standard car thanks to the red accents on the cladding, wheel arches, wheels as well as a sport badge at the rear.
How is it on the inside?
The Hyundai Venue paired with an iMT is no different from the standard Venue in terms of interior design and layout. However, this being a sport trim, there’s some extra touches inside too to help it stand out.You get red stitching on the seats, gear lever and even on the sporty-looking flat-bottom steering wheel. What’s more the dials of the climate control system and the AC vents themselves get red accents.
The Sport trim is based on the top-spec SX (O) trim where equipment like climate control with rear vents, touchscreen infotainment system Blue Link connectivity, height adjustment for the driver’s seat, wireless charging point, digital MID, six-airbags and ABS with EBD are all standard.
The cabin is well appointed with soft touch plastics on all the contact surfaces and lots of little storage spaces all around. The second row is short on space, especially for taller people while the boot at 350-litres is one of the larger ones in the segment. We’ve done a detailed road test of the Hyundai Venue and you can find the link here.
How does it drive?
The Hyundai Venue iMT is offered only with the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine producing 118bhp/172Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed “intelligent” manual, which as we said earlier is a manual gearbox but with an automated clutch mechanism eliminating one of the most tedious parts of the driving experience.
It feels no different from getting off the line in a car with a regular manual gearbox. Put your right foot on the brake and with the gear lever in neutral, start the car. You can then slot it into first gear and once you ease off the brake the car starts to roll and you give it gas to get going.
On the move, you shift as you would a regular manual. The shifts are smooth with an absence of the head nod and sway that one would find in cars mated to an automated manual transmission (AMT). You even get engine braking when you need to slow down.
The benefit of this setup is most evident in heavy traffic. Normally, you would have to put the car in first, ease off the clutch and depending on how far you have to roll forward either let the initial momentum do its thing or press the accelerator to move forward. This then succeeds by brake application. With an iMT you just have to press the brake, put the car in first, let it roll forward and then brake at the point you want to stop. The car will not stall and in fact, you don’t need to even press the brake to move from first (if the car is already on) but given the general level of discipline present on our roads, having an alert right foot hovering over the brake pedal is always encouraged.
Out on the bigger expressways and highways, the climb is quick with a noticeable pull past the 2000rpm mark and linear acceleration to the 5500rpm redline. Three-digit speeds arrive quickly and once you have rowed through the gears to fifth or sixth, it is just a matter keeping the momentum going. Since the car does not stall, it is one less issue for you to deal with while travelling on a highway.
The gearshifts are light and precise and if you keep your foot off the throttle, it's achieved without any resistance. What’s more, the system has your back and will give you a warning beep in the instrument cluster if you shift to the wrong gear or are in a gear too high or low for your current speed. It even gives you the beep if you trying to start the car in first gear. An advantage, we found with this system over an automated manual transmission (AMT) is that because you are controlling the shifts yourself, there’s no sudden chance of the gearbox shifting while you are going through a corner and upsetting the balance of the vehicle at a crucial point.
It’s no different from the standard Venue in terms of handling. The steering is light and easy to use but devoid of feel. In the ride quality department, the suspension takes most bumps and imperfection without much effort but over the bigger potholes, you do get some noticeable vertical movement. We have tested the Venue in detail last year and to get a full impression of what it’s like to drive and handle you can click here.
Should I buy one?
With an increasing demand for automatic cars, especially in this part of the market, Hyundai’s approach to take one of the most tedious tasks of the MT driving experience and automate it while retaining the essence of the process looks to be quite promising. It’s not the most dynamic of gearboxes but will get the job done without much effort (for your left leg). There’s quite a bit more to be explored in terms of what this engine and gearbox combination offers and we will be able to give you all the details and numbers once we perform a road test of the Venue iMT.
On the downside, it is only available in the top-spec SX and SX (O) trim which makes it a pricey proposition but if there’s sufficient demand, we don’t see why Hyundai won’t introduce it in a lower-spec trim.
Where does it fit in?
The Hyundai Venue in this iMT and turbo petrol engine combination is available in four variants with prices in the range of 11.16 lakh to Rs 12.91 lakh (on-road Delhi). It takes on the likes of Maruti Brezza AT, Kia Sonet iMT (not yet launched at the time of writing this review), Toyota Urban Cruiser AT (not yet launched at the time of writing this review) and the Tata Nexon AMT in the sub-four-metre SUV segment.
Photos: Kapil Angane