Hyundai has powered the Venue with a 1.4-litre four-cylinder diesel engine producing 89bhp at 4,000rpm and 220Nm at 1,500rpm. Meanwhile, the XUV300 is more powerful with the Marazzo's 1.5-litre four-cylinder mill, but tuned to produce 115bhp at 3,750 rpm. Its peak torque output is rated at 300Nm at 1,500rpm making it the best-in-class figure. At start-up, the Venue's engine prominently feels quieter and refined. That said, the XUV's oil-burner is also quiet but not as smooth as the Hyundai.
Both get a six-speed manual transmission set-up that provides smooth and fuss-free shifts. However, the shifts are short and more precise in the Venue, while there are little longer throws in the XUV. Also, the difference in power outputs is quite apparent from the word go. Though the Venue's low-end torque doesn't feel dead, it becomes truly alive only post 2,000rpm when the turbo spools in. The XUV, in comparison, takes off better with a good surge of torque the moment you step on the throttle. In fact, this strong mid-range makes it even handier, especially when you are pulling away from traffic. That said, the Venue doesn't struggle either but builds up speed and keeps the momentum going without any hiccups at mid-range. Yet, since the XUV moves through its power band quickly, you tend to automatically shift more often. Thankfully, like the one in the Venue, the XUV’s clutch is light but still has a longer travel. Although overtaking felt easy in both, it’s hard to miss the XUV’s extra output, which makes it feel a tad more effortless on the highways.
Coming to the handling bits, the Normal and Comfort settings for the steering in the XUV don't show an apparent change in feel. But when in Sport mode, it lends a well-weighted and direct feel which makes the XUV feel more agile in comparison. In fact this gives you an extra bit of confidence to toss it around and have some fun at the wheel too. On the contrary, the Venue, which is surely more competent than other Hyundai siblings, still isn't as engaging or rewarding like the XUV. This Hyundai comes off more like a relaxed one, unlike the Mahindra which offers a better experience to drivers who care more about driving.
Now for the ride, Mahindra is known to provide a robust suspension set-up and the XUV too gets one. Uneven roads, broken patches, small bumps are easily dismissed at slow speeds. The Venue too has an absorbent ride despite the fact that it feels slightly firmer. However, both document a noise over sharp-edged potholes and the damping could have been better insulated. Yet, straight-line stability in both is impressive and they even show sure-footedness over uncharted terrain. The Venue still has an edge with 10mm of more ground clearance to clear obstacles with aplomb.