The Creta is Hyundai’s answer to the compact crossover craze. It’s a highly anticipated new model, but has it been worth the wait?
We recently got our first chance to sample one of the most highly anticipated new cars of 2015. It’s no secret that the compact crossover segment is the hottest space in the market. It’s also no secret that Hyundai has been working on this model for some time.
Well, it’s finally here – and it’s called (a bit quizzically) the Creta! But, never mind the name, what we’re more interested to find out is if this car will be the game changer that it promises to be. And the short answer is: yes!
The car was unveiled at the Hyundai plant, and what we can tell you with complete certainty is that (to our eyes) it looks very impressive indeed. From more than one angle, it carries a strong resemblance to the far more premium (and expensive) Santa Fe. In the flesh, the proportions look good, the chrome grille on the front looks imposing, the profile is sharp and purposeful, and the taillights look stylish and impressive. However, there’s a chrome strip on the bottom half of the tailgate – which sits above the number plate – that looks like it’s set a little lower than necessary. But, other than that, the Creta certainly looks like an SUV that you’ll be proud to have parked in your garage – especially the top-end variant that you see here with its 17-inch rims.
But Hyundai was more interested in telling us about the advancements they’ve made under the skin. You see, the Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy has made quite an impact over the years – and Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 has only moved the game even further. You might say that the i20 has a hint of Alfa Romeo, but if you’re going to take inspiration from anywhere then it may as well be from the best. And with the Creta they’ve certainly created a handsome machine that looks unique and conventional in just the right mix.
On the inside, it’s much the same story. Hyundai truly moved the compact car game to another level with the cabin of the i20, and while the Creta isn’t quite as much of a leap forward, it certainly provides fit-and-finish levels that are miles above its competition – the Renault Duster and Ford Ecosport.
A large touchscreen dominates the centre console in the top-two trim levels. It also gets 1GB of storage, push-button start, a reverse camera, 6 airbags, and Electronic Stability Control. In fact, Hyundai went to great lengths to point out that the Creta has best-in-class structural rigidity. Now that can be a little hard to judge on a short test drive, but they did have a cutaway on display that showed off the sections of high strength steel and the five cross members on the roof.
On the road – well, at Hyundai’s perfectly paved test track anyway (which consisted of two short straights, and a nicely banked roundabout) – the Creta felt extremely well balanced and surefooted on the road. With the new i20 there was a sense that Hyundai had taken a leap forward in the dynamic abilities of their vehicles, and this is reflected in the Creta as well. In the Elantra, for instance, the brakes would lock before the ABS would cut in. In the Verna, the rear end would get loose. But in their latest generation of machines, there are no such problems. They stop and go with the surety of the best machines that have been engineered on the Autobahn. Now that they’ve conquered design and features, this is the next frontier for this Korean giant – the integrity of what’s under the skin. And this is what makes them extremely dangerous for every other automaker on the planet. In fact, their relentless aggression is what’s propelled them to become the fastest growing automaker on the planet.
The Creta will be available with a 1.6-litre petrol engine (producing 121bhp) and a pair of turbo-diesels – a 1.4 and 1.6 with a variable geometry turbo and the latter produces 126bhp. All engines will come with a six-speed gearbox, while an optional 6-speed automatic transmission will be offered with the 1.6 diesel – the first diesel-automatic in its segment. And it’s this variant that we drove – the 1.6 with the manual and automatic transmissions. Now, let’s be clear, this is a very preliminary first-drive that we can only use as a reference point to infer what the car will be like to live with. But we can tell you this much, it’s doesn’t disappoint.
The brakes are very good, with the ABS providing a lot of confidence. The body control is extremely good as well, with the steering responding sharply to your inputs. Steering feel is far improved over Hyundai’s of old, but it’s still not as good as the Duster for instance. We only drove the car on the test track, but based on the way it handled we can assume that the ride quality will be pretty good as well. It certainly appears more suited to the tarmac than the Duster. The Renault has a rugged flavour, while the Hyundai feels more like a city slicker – and a slick one at that!
The drivers’ seat holds you firmly in place, and all the controls fall perfectly to hand. The only shortfall is that the steering column doesn’t adjust for reach. Space in the cabin is good though. In the rear, you get nicely executed AC vents, a central armrest, and a 12-volt socket. You also have great head-and-leg room, but shoulder room when three abreast (especially when you’re sandwiched between two well nourished auto journalists) can be a little tight.
The automatic transmission, while not lightening sharp, lets you shift manually if you so choose. What it does brilliantly, however, is remain smooth and refined at all times. The engine response is more than adequate with either gearbox, but this engine (the 1.6 diesel) does seem to buzz a little more than you would like. Now, it’s not a diesel clatter that’s annoying, but it is a little more intrusive than you would like.
But, really, what we’re doing here is nit-picking. On the whole, as an everyday machine, that Creta is everything we expected it to be – and more. Like I said before, it looks better in the flesh than in pictures – which is to say that it looks just the right amount of imposing and elegant on the road. It’s certainly a step-up on the inside from anything in its segment, and there’s no doubt that it’ll be an extremely capable and comfortable car to live with everyday.
So, since it appears that the next car all of you want to put in your respective driveways is a compact crossover, you better rush to the nearest Hyundai showroom and beg them to take a booking. Their order books are filling up fast, and waiting periods of a few months are already being estimated.
Hyundai has high hopes from this car. The buying public does too. Good thing, then, that it appears to deliver the goods!
Ex-showroom, Delhi prices of all variants can be found below
1.6 Petrol L – 8.59 lakh
1.6 Petrol S – 9.57 lakh
1.6 Petrol SX+ – 11.95 lakh
1.4 Diesel L – 9.46 lakh
1.4 Diesel S – 10.42 lakh
1.4 Diesel S+ – 11.45 lakh
1.6 Diesel SX – 11.59 lakh
1.6 Diesel SX+ – 12.67 lakh
1.6 Diesel SX(O) – 13.60 lakh
1.6 Diesel Automatic – 13.57 lakh