Hyundai Creta – The Ultimate SUV?

India loves SUVs. So much that every kid once dreamt of having the Tata Safari in his garage. As that kid grew, he realised that SUVs are an expensive affair. After all, they have an imposing stance and are very practical. Probably, he also realised that he doesn’t need a full size 7-seater SUV that would be challenging to manoeuvre in the city. Hyundai wanted to leverage this and bought the Creta in 2015. Since then it has been a blockbuster success for the Korean car maker. But with the rising competition and panoramic sunroofs being the talk of the town, Hyundai decided to give it a much-needed facelift. Unlike Volkswagen, this facelift is not all about sticker jobs, we have an all-new car.

Will this continue to carry the legacy of the previous Creta or the polarised design will make you head to the nearest KIA showroom? Let’s find out!

Pros:

+ Excellent engine-gearbox combination. Revs beautifully all the way, turbocharger plays a significant role in enhancing the driving experience, the turbo-lag is negligible

+ Feature loaded! Panoramic sunroof, wireless charging, 6 airbags, ventilated seats, LED headlamps, connected car features and everything else you want at 20 lakhs and more

+ Excellent, Theatrical music system is a treat to the ears. Trust me, it beats the Meridian system of the most of the entry-level JLRs which cost 3x which is supposed to be really good

+ Interiors ‘design’ is fantastic. Flat bottom steering wheel, superb speedometer, sporty AC vents loads of cubby holes & storage spaces

+ Extra Length, width and wheelbase than the previous gen means more space inside. Good legroom, under-thigh support and headroom too, wish the rear windows were bigger

+ Ride quality is really good, can’t match the Duster but a lot better than its Mahindra counterpart

+ The 10.25 inch touchscreen system has brilliant responsiveness.It’s also tilted towards the left so that the driver can easily operate. Simply clever. Extremely easy to navigate

Cons:

– Ofcourse, the design. Love it or hate it there is no in between. In our Instagram poll, 44% of them said that the design won’t grow on them over time. It’s a big number for a mass-market car. Also, the alloy wheel in this variant seems more like a wheel cap

– No manual gearbox in turbocharged petrol. A HUGE opportunity missed, a 6 speed MT with a better calibrated steering would have been the perfect small SUV to drive. Why this kolaveri Dii?

– The steering feedback. It’s super light at parking speed, weighs up slightly with speed only in sport mode but even then it’s not precise or direct

– The least you expect after paying 21 lakhs is that all 4 power window switches glow at night, unfortunately only 1 is illuminated. Loads of cost-cutting measures like Hard dashboard plastics, smaller, non-alloy spare tyre, only-driver side request sensor, not a good sign

Exterior:

The new Creta is longer and wider than the previous gen but slightly shorter.

 This has been one of the most controversial design of recent time, love it or you hate it, but you can’t ignore this ferocious design. The front design seems to align with the growing trend of placing the headlamps below and the DRLs on top. The headlamps are LEDs which offer good throw at night, we tested them out in the real-world condition and came out pretty impressed. The turn indicators are integrated with the fog lamps next to the beautifully crafted skid plate. However, the massive grille dominates the real estate in the front.

Moving to the side of the Creta, the thick C pillars finished in silver grabs your attention instantly followed by the alloy wheels which feel slightly out of place for a car of this price bracket. Just as you expect, the mirrors have turn indicators on them. However, I really wished the rear window could have been bigger so that you don’t feel claustrophobic when the turbocharger is taking you places.  Also, only the driver side door gets the request sensor.

 Its not the front that’s polarising, it would eventually grow on you. But things get slightly complicated when you move to the rear. Although looks are subjective, I wouldn’t shy away from calling it an imperfect design. I am not a big fan of the way the LED tail lamps are split. When was the last time you saw the rear stop lamp integrated into the boot of an SUV?

 The cargo space is abundant at 433 litres, but the spare tyre is a non-alloy. That’s totally okay as spare tyres are supposed to be used in an emergency situation only. But what’s surprising is that it’s one inch smaller than the other 4 tyres. Unfortunately, this is the first victim of cost cutting.

 Interior:

When you buy a car, you spend more time inside it than outside. Hyundai knows this and they have been consistently making cars with really good interiors. Unlike the polarising exterior, the interiors are going to be loved by most of us. You definitely feel that you are sitting in a car worth 2 million when you step inside. The all-black cabin in this variant looks premium. But your happiness is short lived when you actually touch and feel the plastics because they are hard, and it steals the luxury feeling from this pocket rocket. This is the second victim of cost cutting.

The quality of switches on the door is good but the problem is only the driver side is backlit. It difficult to spot the other switches when you are driving at night. This is the third victim of cost cutting. The best part about the cabin is the superb steering wheel that feels really good to hold. There are buttons to access the music system controls, cruise controls etc. What makes it special is the paddle shifters on offer. Unfortunately, the steering is adjustable for tilt and not for reach. Thankfully, the speedometer is designed in a beautiful way, just that the tachometer is struggling to accommodate itself in the instrument cluster. Once you turn on the ignition, you are greeted by graphics making you feel like a part of interstellar.

 The quality of interiors is typical European, the plastics used get a soft touch to them and the chrome ascents give it a very premium look. Small yet significant things like addition of red colours make the cabin look sportier than expected. The gear lever seems to be inspired from a Boeing. The practicality of the Creta is taken further with multiple USB ports and a 12v charging socket. You also get the wireless charging option, a feature which was prominent only in luxury cars until recent times. The pedals in this variant are given an aluminium treatment to add a sporty touch to the car. Not to forget, the Creta comes with the start/stop button which is neatly tucked away next to the steering wheel.

 However, One of the super cool feature is the air purifier which displays the quality of air outside and purifies the air in the cabin at the same time. I really wish many more car makers use this in their cars. If they plan to incorporate this in their cars, I hope they position it in the front and not in an awkward place like the arm rest. The dashboard is dominated by a massive 10.25 inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes with android auto and apple car play. You get an inbuilt SIM within the car and that means this is a fully connected vehicle that allows you to do a lot of things, including starting the car, tracking your vehicle’s, location, geo-fencing and pairing it with your smart watch. The touchscreen is sensitive enough so that you don’t have to struggle in navigating through it while driving the car. An interesting bit it that the touchscreen is slightly tilted towards the driver side so that its convenient to operate on the move. Simply clever.

The seats offer great support and the best part is they are ventilated, which means you don’t have to worry about sweating in the scorching Indian summers.

I can read your mind and the anticipation to see the panoramic sunroof, I won’t let you wait further

Hello Blue link, open the sunroof.

The sunroof is absolutely massive. Its electrically retractable and makes the cabin really airy. You would have to fiddle with the controls for a while before getting used to opening it the way you want.

Moving to the rear of the car, it feels kind of claustrophobic, but the sunroof really helps. The legroom is good but scooped out seats would have definitely been better. The headroom is good for a car of this size, the seats offer pretty good under thigh support too. You get the AC vents which here. A large parcel tray means an ample space to store your goodie bags. You also get the rear centre arm rest which has 2 cupholders in it. The rear seats can be split into 60:40 to give you additional boot space for your airport runs.

 

Drive

The test car here is the 1.4 GDI petrol mated to 7 speed DCT. The engine churns out 140 horses and 242 nm of torque. Apart from this you get 13 other permutation and combinations to choose from. But, cars are not smartphones that you could judge them by these numbers on the paper. What’s more important is how does the Crete drive. This is the answer to this lies in this key of happiness. It’s not that I am stereotyping Hyundai’s, but they are known to impress the 80% of the common buyers while leaving the other 20% of enthusiasts gasping for better driving dynamics and that’s the reason, I set my expectations accordingly before I stepped into this car.

The turbocharged motor is eager to be pushed around, especially in the sport mode. The engine feels full of life, there is abundant power available. The best part is you don’t have to wait a lot to extract the maximum torque as its available just at 1500 rpm all the until 3200 rpm.

 The 7 speed DCT gearbox is really quick. Although you have to pay a premium of 1.3 lakhs for the turbocharger, what’s more important is you get this DCT gearbox unlike the old school CVT in the non-turbocharged auto variant. The turbo lag is negligible but there seems to be some sort of miscommunication between the engine and the gearbox as the gears shift earlier than expected. Ironically there is a bit of a jerk when shifting at lower speeds.

If you thought the manual mode or paddle shifters are here to rescue you, probably not. Because after a certain rpm the car upshifts even if you don’t want it to. I am still ok with that because you would buy an automatic to drive it like an automatic but what let me down big time is the steering feedback as it feels feather light.

You get 3 driving modes to choose from. There is a choice between Eco, Comfort and Sport. Eco is for the kitna deti hai where the throttle response is slower apart from reducing the effectiveness of the air conditioner. Sport is the one you want to be in when you want to have fun and enjoy the performance because the gearbox upshifts at a higher rpm. Comfort is a good balance between both these modes. 

 

Ride and Handling

The car is driven on 17-inch alloy wheels. However, the Lower variants get the 16 inch wheels. The ride quality is phenomenal, and the suspension is on the softer side. This also means you really don’t have to crawl in smaller potholes because it absorbs them very well. A light steering and body roll means that it’s not very confidence inspiring to push it around the corners but having said that the straight-line stability at higher speeds is really solid and it effortlessly reaches the ton in just over 10 seconds.

 All 4 wheels are equipped with disc brakes and they do an excellent job of stopping the vehicle from decent speeds to a sand still. I really wish someone from Mahindra drives one someday.

 The fuel tank capacity is 50 litres and you should be able to drive it for 800 km before you need a refill. That said, it would return a fuel efficiency of 16 kmpl in mixed driving conditions.

 

With over 5 lakh Creta’s on road, let’s find out what has been the success mantra for Hyundai Creta in India:

1. TIMING – #hyundai is aggressive in launching cars in India. As soon as they realised that the 5 seater ‘SUV’ market is growing significantly, they left no stone unturned to launch the #creta ASAP

2 BRAND & SERVICE – Hyundai is loved by us since the days of Santro. With an extensive dealer network spread across the country, the 2nd largest car maker has a major advantage over it’s rivals like Kia. They’ve also received the top spot for customer satisfaction in JD power study in 2018 with a score of 848/1000. 55% of them also revealed they would get their car serviced at the dealership after warranty expires

3. STYLING (Old Creta) – Code named as #ix25 the car was ruling hearts in the spy shots across the Globe. It looked more mature than any other ‘SUV’ in that price bracket. A very proportionate design unlike the new model which is polarizing

4. ENGINE-GEARBOX OPTIONS – Manual, Automatic, Petrol and Diesel, it had it all. Also the availability of diesel automatic was a boon. Brands like Jeep who got in the diesel automatic in Compass way too late have lost significant customers to others

5. RESALE VALUE – Creta is pretty dominant in the used car market. Some buyers also consider resale value as one of the parameters while making a purchase. A car with better resale value also means relatively higher ROI

6. SAFETY FEATURES – All variants came with rear parking sensors, dual Airbags and ABS. Period. The higher variants offered rear camera, hill-assist, electronic stability control, static bending lights etc.

7. WONDER WARRANTY – The recently launched flexible warranty of 3 yrs/unlimited km or 4 yrs/60k km or 5 yrs/50k km lets buyers choose it according to thier usage pattern

8. NEW CRETA – Although approx 10% of the sales are from the new model, Hyundai offered (almost) everything the buyer wants. The Panoramic sunroof is enough to play the trump card for most of them. Also, the new model is improved in every possible way, especially in the driving dynamics.

Quick comparision of Creta Vs Seltos:

Advantages of #kiaseltos over #hyundaicreta:

  1. A much proportionately designed car with finer details unlike the love-it-or-hate-it design of the new Creta
  2. Seltos offers the 1.4-litre petrol engine with both a manual and a DCT, whereas the Creta only offers that particular engine with a DCT
  3. Seltos loves to be pushed around the corners(although the steering is still not perfect), the body roll is slightly lesser than Creta. Looses its marks to the ride quality though
  4. No ‘evident’ cost-cutting unlike the hard plastics of the Creta. There is a bit of soft-touch on the interiors of Creta. Both the cars neither get a full size spare tyre nor hydraulic struts for bonnet. Sad.
  5. Some fancy equipments like the heads-up display, front parking sensors and 360 degree camera which actually offer utility. Also, the Seltos gets tilt & telescopic adjustment for the steering while the creta gets the adjustment for tilt only
  6. Neatly laid out instrument cluster. Although the Creta too has a pretty good looking speedometer, it really falls short in the race of tachometer’s unconventional design
  7. one of the best features of the Seltos is its blind spot assist, which uses cameras mounted in the outside rear-view mirrors to project the blind spot on the screen in front of the driver
  8. Seltos gets dual-tone beige interiors which look slightly more plush and premium than the all-black ‘sporty’ interiors of the Creta which probably make slightly more sense for a hot hatch like the Polo, Mini Cooper or Abarth Punto
  9. Much better looking GT line alloy wheels and LED DRLs merging into the grille. On the contrary, the alloys of the Creta Petrol 7 DCT can be mistaken for wheel caps.
  10. Although the OEM for tyres tends to change periodically, the test car of Seltos came with the much grippier set of Michellins than the JK tyres on the Creta

 

Advantages of #hyundaicreta over #kiaseltos:

  1. Firstly, a much larger network of dealership and service centres. For every Kia service centre in India, there are approximately 9 from Hyundai
  2. The middle variants trims of Creta are safer than the respective variants of Seltos with 6 airbags vs 2. Seltos misses out on Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM). All variants of Creta get TPMS
  3. Additional equipment level with a massive panoramic sunroof, electronic parking brake with an auto-hold function and of course the paddle-shifters
  4. Negligible turbo lag from the Creta turbo petrol 7 DCT triumphs the slightly noticible lag in the seltos. You can cruise at 100 kmph at 2000rpm vs the 2200rpm in Seltos
  5. Although both are equipped with the same OEM music system vendor, Bose, the sound quality in Creta is miles ahead than the Seltos
  6. For the same engine-gearbox combination, Creta will return 10% more mileage than the Seltos. For sure.
  7. The ride quality offered is definitely better, thanks to the softer suspension but the handling is slightly compromised
  8. Although the touchscreen infotainment system is of same size it is much more user friendly and the responsiveness is amazing
  9. The Creta gets a better driving position, thanks to its higher seat height. You would have complete visibility of the bonnet’s front end

 

Verdict

 Hyundai is one of those manufacturers that does a lot of homework before launching a new product in India. They know what the consumer wants when he is shopping for a car in every segment. The Creta is feature loaded to the brim and more.

 If God asked me what are the 3 features that I aspire for in a 20 lakh car, It would be the panoramic sunroof, wireless charging and a safer car with 6 airbags. The Creta gets all of them. Having said that, I really wish Hyundai had worked on a better steering feedback and not opted for cost cutting measures because at 20 lakhs, it’s not cheap in any way.

 Going back to the question that we started off with – Would you be happy with the polarised design of the Creta or head to the nearest KIA showroom? I would leave that to you because designs are subjective. But if I were you, I would probably wait hoping that the turbo charged variant is also offered with the manual gearbox. Because, replacement for Manual gearbox shall never be found. 

 

 

 

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