Whiteout: Hyundai Venue in snowy Kashmir
It's an almost freezing setting as the temperature has dropped to single digits. While there's a bit of discomfort because of that, the view around us is far more rewarding. Far away from our mundane lives where people, traffic and the mercury levels are constantly racing, we were at a completely contrasting location. As a part of our bucket list series, we have driven down to the mesmerising Kashmir in search of a perfect snow-clad destination for an adventurous drive. We chose to do that in the Hyundai Venue which has already become a favourite among its peers for its features and performance.
The transmission options that have been availabe on the Venue span automatic and manual, and the novel iMT, the first car in India to have it. Simply put, the iMT or Intelligent Manual Transmission offers the economy of an MT and convenience of an AT without the presence of a clutch. We have already seen the Venue iMT impress us in our reviews but this time around the setting was different as the compact SUV had to be driven from the national capital which has fine roads but is buzzing with traffic to the snow-clad region of Kashmir, wherein the surfaces are as unpredictable as the climate there.
Usually, when you are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in a manual transmission car, your left foot is working overtime clutching in and out. But not in the Venue iMT wherein it's just the throttle and the brake, once you have shifted into the right gear. After escaping the city traffic, we found ourselves comfortably coasting on NH44 thanks to the smooth performance of the 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit. However, it is not smooth tarmac all the way up to Srinagar as there are major sections of under-construction roads. The Venue, however, impressed us with its forgiving suspension setup which soaked up all the disturbances from the broken surfaces. There were few instances where we chanced upon harsh crater-like surfaces but even that was well taken care of by the Venue. The following day we reached our first destination, Srinagar wherein we decided to enjoy the scenic and luxurious stay at the boutique property of Rah Bagh.
When we told the locals that we are planning to take the Venue to Sonmarg, they weren't too sure if our compact offering could handle the terrain. But its performance the previous day had given us enough confidence to keep charging ahead. While climbing the hilly roads on the way to Srinagar, we again experienced the convenience of the iMT as it was just about shifting into the right gear paired with correct throttle input. The light steering made manoeuvring the Venue an easy affair. What played a bit of spoilsport was the weather as it started drizzling, which did make for a lovely leisure drive but was also challenging for our crew to capture the action. Though the temperature had dropped outside, we were nicely cocooned in our comfortable and warm cabin.
In addition to the temperature, even the terrain got challenging with snow reducing the traction posing a bigger challenge for us. Carefully looking at the trail lines on the surface and with a gentle tap on the throttle, we took the Venue to the perfect location for the poster shot. Extremely content with the drive and captures that day, we decided to rest it out at the beautiful Rah Villas. Instead of ending the trip there, we decided to drive further to Gulmarg which offered a picturesque view of the gigantic western Himalayas running along the winding roads going to the hill station. The intention of doing the bucket list series is to encourage everybody to step out and witness nature in its truest and glorious form. Just make sure that you have the right company to do so, which in our case was the Hyundai Venue.
Photography by Sumit Gaikwad
Starts Rs 6.7 Lakhs