As far as cars on Indian roads are concerned, smart technologies that connect in-car devices have usually been reserved for the more premium vehicles. But cars like the Hyundai Venue, MG Hector and Nissan Kicks are part of a new crop of vehicles that are introducing smart technologies at more affordable price points.
For the Venue, this starts with the Hyundai BlueLink system (which is available in select models of this car) that is effectively split in three parts for the driver—buttons inside the car, a display on the dashboard and a smartphone app. There’s even a service component to BlueLink which, when combined with all the other features, tells you why Hyundai is bent on promoting the connected aspects of this vehicle.
The system combines telematics and connectivity features. You will notice the large map on the display right away, and though it does a decent job, we wouldn’t suggest relying solely on this for navigation. It will get you from point A to point B in metros, but it’s no match for Google Maps. Moreover, given that maps have always been far from perfect in a city like Delhi, we wonder how effective they will be in remote areas.
The good news though is that the system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so Google Maps can easily replace the default on-screen version. In our book, that alone would give it brownie points as far as connected features are concerned.
The Venue has an embedded SIM from Vodafone Idea, which is where BlueLink’s other features come into play. The car can call Roadside Assistance (RSA), or call emergency services in the event of an accident. The features aren’t particularly intuitive or fully dependable at the moment, but they’re useful features to have.
You can use the BlueLink app to remotely lock/unlock the car, turn on the ignition, check car status, turn the air conditioner on or off and so on. The features often take time, because a signal goes from your phone to Hyundai’s server and then to the car, making this another useful but un-intuitive feature. In addition, this won’t work when your phone or car are out of connectivity areas, like in basement parking spaces.
Like the NissanConnect application for the Nissan Kicks, you will need to register your phone number and get access to the BlueLink app when you buy this car. Further, you can also set a geo-fence around the Hyundai Venue when you’re not inside it. That means the owner will be informed whenever the car leaves a particular perimeter. You can even immobilize the car or remotely track its location.
And last but not the least, the Venue has an in-built wireless charger under the dashboard. So, if you carry phones like the iPhone 8/X/XS, Samsung’s new Galaxy flagships, Google Pixel 3, etc., you can just put your phone on the charging pad for it to juice up while you drive around. It’s a tiny but essential feature for those with heavy phone usage. It’s not a fast charging wireless pad though, so don’t expect miracles.
This is perhaps the best way to sum up the technology on the Hyundai Venue —it’s a connected car alright but being among the first in its price range, it’s got glitches. That said, the fact that we have such cars at more affordable prices is a sign that both automobile buyers and the cars in India are evolving towards a connected future.
The Venue is great when its technology works, but it will be a while before vehicular technology like this delivers a seamless experience in India.