Hyundai Creta - First Drive Review

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The Indian compact SUV market has been buzzing with activity for the past couple of years. Every manufacturer wants a share of the segment and the newest entrant is also the one that has been one of the most anticipated cars of the year. The Hyundai Creta aims to capture the Rs 9-13 lakh SUV market in India – it’s sold as the ix25 in China but will be exported with the Creta tag to various international markets. Here’s what we think about this baby Santa Fe.

How does it look:

As stated above, in a nutshell, Hyundai’s latest offering looks like a toned down Santa Fe and this will go down very well with prospective customers. It looks polished, like a premium product that will not feel out of place when parked in the company of expensive German cars at a typical Sunday brunch in South Delhi.

The front end of the Creta is dominated by a 3-slate chrome grille with pulled back angular headlamps on either ends. The bi-functional projector headlamps with LED positioning lamps look and work well too – you also get cornering lamps in the higher trim levels. The lower part of the front and rear bumpers get matt black finish and this theme is followed across the body of the Creta. You also get silver skid plates at either ends.  Move your eyes to the side and you notice the slightly muscular wheel arches and sporty roof line that slopes down towards the rear. The crisp shoulder line rises towards the rear, decreasing the glass area and but in turn lends the Creta a very sporty and appealing look. At the back, the Creta gets split tail lamps with the lower part of the boot being finished off with a heavily dosed chrome lip. The version you see here is the SX trim level and this one comes with 16-inch alloy wheels. The top end SX(O) gets gorgeous 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels and these come finished in a shade of black. These look absolutely brilliant in our opinion.

At 4270mm, the Creta is just 30mm shorter in length as compared to the S-Cross, 45mm shorter than the Duster but the Scorpio is a good 186mm longer. The Creta is 15mm wider than the S-Cross, but 42mm and 40mm narrower than the Duster and the Scorpio. This SUV has a lot of road presence and this is not primarily due to its size, but the fact that is looks, well, classy!
The Creta is being sold with a choice of seven color options and six trim levels.

And the interiors?

Step inside and the premium-ness continues. In the company of other compact SUVs (and even full sized SUVs), the Creta is definitely a step ahead in terms of quality and fit and finish. You sit high with good visibility from the front seats. What catches your attention are the overly black interiors which really look rich. Touch feel of both leather and plastics is top notch and soon what catches your fancy is the central console. While we were driving the SX version, the ‘+’ models get a 7” touch screen infotainment system with GPS navigation. It also plays video and supports all formats including Bluetooth telephony. The system sounds good too though the screen brightness in full daylight isn’t that good.

The steering looks great and gets buttons for various operations like audio system and telephony. Behind the steering is the speedometer console which gets a supervision cluster in the SX(O) model. While this looks great, it misses out on a fuel economy display. The multi-info display shows outside temperature, average speed etc. Other features on the top end SX(O) version include leather seats (which are comfortable), keyless entry and start-stop, climate control, rear parking camera etc. Space is pretty good up front though a tall co-driver will notice the limited head space (the co-driver seat isn’t adjustable for height). You also get an arm-rest with average space, two cup-holders and space ahead of the gear lever for keeping your wallet and mobile(s).

Moving to the rear seats, space is definitely a plus point here. Though seat width is not the best for three adults, floor board is almost flat (which isn’t the case with the S-Cross) and you sit slightly higher which means you don’t feel claustrophobic inspite of smaller windows. Worthy of a mention is the fact that all versions including the base get dedicated rear air-con vents and front seat back pockets. All but the base versions get rear arm-rest with cup-holders.

The Creta gets a 400-litre boot space that is less as compared to the Dusters and Scorpios of the world but more than the EcoSport. Loading lip is pretty high but on the good side, with the rear seats folded, you get a flap ‘extended’ boot to carry the world along. Some of the practical touches on all versions include coat hooks, electric tailgate release, front console armrest with storage, dead pedal,  follow me home lamps, keyless entry, lane change indicator etc.

Heart of the matter

This is certainly one of the main USPs of the Creta. Unlike the competition, the Creta is being sold with a choice of as many as 3 engine options. Let us start with the 1.6-litre petrol first. At a rated 123PS (with 154Nm of torque), this petrol version might end up attracting a lot of buyers as it is priced below Rs 10 lakh which also means overall taxes on this version will be far less. Cars above Rs 10 lakh invite a much higher percentage of road tax. It is a smooth unit and will go about doing its duties in an able manner.

Next in the line-up is the 1.4-litre diesel unit that comes with a standard 6-speed manual gearbox and puts out a respectable 90PS of power and 220Nm of torque, way more than the 85PS versions of the Duster and the Terrano. This one has an ARAI rated economy of 21.38kmpl.

The one we drove extensively was the 1.6-litre diesel unit that puts out class leading power of 128PS and 260Nm of torque. We drove the 6-speed manual transmission version and for starters, overall NVH levels are well under control. The Creta isn’t really as silent on the inside as some of the other 10-12 lakh diesel sedans but it’s really good for a SUV. At normal speeds with the air-con working, diesel clatter is well under control. Push the Creta hard and the oil burner makes itself felt easily but vibrations and noise levels don't become annoying at all. Talking of performance, there is a bit of turbo lag under 1800rpm but once on the boil, the Creta can be a very quick SUV. Our quick test runs showed that the manual version takes about 11 seconds for the 0 to 100km/h run. Even under 1800rpm, the engine responds well to part throttle inputs. The gearbox is a joy to use as compared to some of the other SUVs in the market too.

ARAI rated economy of the 1.6-litre diesel (manual) stands at 19.67. We haven’t driven the 6-speed AT much so will wait for our judgement till we get it for a fair amount of time. However, with the AT, the Creta becomes the most affordable diesel AT in the country.

Is it comfortable

Yes – it is. The Creta feels like a grown up car to drive on the move and the overall effort required for driving it in city isn’t much. Effortless, smooth and forgiving – that’s the Creta for you. To begin with, suspension noise is well damped and this along with controlled NVH levels makes the cabin of the Creta a nice place to be. Seats are comfortable and on the move, this SUV absorbs most undulations nicely. Steering is on the lighter side too which makes daily commute very doable. This along with electronic aids and a host of features make the Creta a recommended daily companion for those long slow tiring commutes.

Push the Creta hard and it responds pretty well. There is a bit of body roll and it’s not in the same league as a compact German SUV but for the price point (and considering the rivals), the Creta does a fine job. Yes, the EcoSport will be a more rewarding SUV to drive but in terms of best of both the worlds, this little Hyundai is spot on. Ergonomics play a key role in making the driver feel at home and this is exactly the case with the Creta.

Summing it up!

What are the key ingredients that combined together make a compact SUV a successful product? Design, space, comfort factor, tempting features, powerful engine and road presence, right? The Creta might not have the macho and robust design of the Duster or the Scorpio but it still manages to turn heads easily. It is spacious, very comfortable, comes with a long list of standard features, has the famous 128PS engine from the Verna and most importantly gives you that premium and luxury feel that one expects after paying over Rs 15 lakh (on-road). It misses out on a cooled glovebox, a massive boot, driver information display and an all-wheel drive model but for 95% of the buyers in this segment, the Creta seems to tick all the right boxes. It’s a tad on the expensive side - the fully loaded XUV5OO W8 is just 5% more expensive and the top-end Duster RxZ option / Plus versions are 8% cheaper but after a spending a day with the Creta, I feel the price tag (and waiting period) will be worth it for most buyers.

Also See: Hyundai Creta Image gallery

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