First launched in 2015, followed by a facelift in 2018, right to the new 2020 model, Hyundai Creta has quickly evolved into a household name in India
The Hyundai Creta has done what some other popular cars took decades to capture, and change the average Indian family car owner’s mind-set. Creta was neither a sedan nor was it particularly fuel efficient; maintenance costs were high as well. At a time when the market needed a comfortable, refined and reassuring SUV, Hyundai brought in the Creta, which has attracted around 400,000 customers in India in a considerably short period of time.
There were many SUVs available in this segment, but it was the Creta that held maximum value for those who could not afford it and those who could. It had set the benchmark for SUVs in the compact SUV segment, not just in terms of design and performance, but also aftersales experience.
INDIAN DEBUT IN 2015
It was on July 21, 2015 when Hyundai rolled out the much-awaited Hyundai-Kia based ix25 in the Indian market. The segment was ruled by Renault Duster and Mahindra Scorpio at the time, which was about to change. The SUV body style had already been revolutionised by Ford EcoSport in 2012, but it was still a sub-compact. Creta was much more posh and appealing to this developing era of customers. And it did! Creta sold about 200,000 units in 25 months – it outsold every other competitor except the Mahindra Bolera in the UV market in 2017.
Hyundai India had to ramp up production capacity to meet growing demands. Even its competitors scaled up their portfolio by releasing special editions, offering more service support, expanding dealer network and what not, but could not ward off the Creta wave. It was until Maruti Suzuki Brezza entered the sales number game and started tipping scales for Hyundai, but it was too late. Creta had already made a lasting impression on its customers. The brand was a complete package with a robust body structure, which could handle some abuse; the diesel engine was immensely torquey and the petrol automatic was a go-to-choice for urban commuters. Hyundai Creta had clearly made a mark.
FACELIFT RELEASED IN 2018
Keeping up with the quickly-developing market scenario, Hyundai updated the Creta with more styling tweaks and feature additions to keep buyers interested. LEDs and projector headlamps were the prevalent demands of customers; sunroof and cruise control had also become part of the general dictionary. All these features were added in the Creta along with segment-first features like wireless charging and smart key band. The focus had shifted towards the sportier nature of SUVs and technological comfort of passengers.
The claimed highlight of the facelift definitely was fuel efficiency enhancement. The petrol engine was now 3 % more efficient while the diesel improved by 4 %. Hyundai India has been careful enough not to disturb the basic winning recipe of the Creta and just added refinements to the mix. Safety was an area of concern for the advanced Indian car owners as well. Creta offered the option of six airbags, stability programme, electrochromic mirrors, and bending lights to further enhance safety parameters.
The evolution of the SUV market had kicked on as more players like Jeep Compass, Kia Seltos and Tata Harrier had strengthened mass market interest. The Creta started to weaken in mid-2018 even as new players were able to deliver all that the old horse could. But it cannot be denied that the Creta showed Indian manufacturers the way forward in compact SUV development.
2020 – THE SECOND COMING
The fading interest in the Creta meant Hyundai had to quickly refresh and reload not just with more munition but with a new weapon. Hence, the 2020 Hyundai Creta went through a huge metamorphosis to evolve into a more accomplished SUV. Comfort, refinement and features are something that has caught on with Creta’s competitors. So Hyundai went back to the drawing board and picked its most fascinating sketch ever, the Palisade. The company extracted the design language as well as changed engine and transmission combinations, and ensured its interior quality was a notch above its competitors.
The launch of the Seltos SUV from Kia, its sister company, had already given the Indian market a hint of what was to come in the new generation Creta. But one area where Hyundai Creta wins is in packaging – it has better brand value, wider dealer network and a more technically sound finish than most of its rivals. For sure, it shares many components with Seltos, but the brand still needs to expand into wider parts of the country for sales and service.
DATA RESEARCH FOR DEVELOPMENT
Customer inputs play a significant role in modern car development. Understanding current trends, demands, prevalent features and pricing is crucial and this is where Hyundai excels. And why not, they have a 50 plus team full of data scientists working on every tool to plot the most efficient curve for input of raw materials, processing it and delivering the final product. This team focusses on everything right from what features, colours, upholstery choices, safety aids or electronics would be preferred by buyers.
The new Creta went through testing across 17 different kinds of test tracks with varying temperature, surface, elevation, and other parameters. This ensures the final product in customer’s hand is a robust and safe superstructure as a family vehicle. Engine and transmission options, too, reflect what customers request for in their vehicles nowadays. The manual diesel variants for chauffeured passengers, who have long distances to travel; peppy turbocharged petrol with DCT for enthusiasts and the IVT option for city dwellers are available in the new Creta. Yes, the manual and automatic on both petrol and diesel were earlier available in the Creta, but now these choices are further refined and better suited to its audience. All these are possible thanks to deep learning methodologies utilised by digital data researchers.
With the new-gen Creta, Hyundai is sure to further up the game in the compact SUV space. It is priced right and is available with a plethora of engine and transmission options, packed to the brim with electronic convenience features as always. However, two things stand in its way – the coronavirus crisis and its immediate competition. It is evident that the epidemic caused by Covid-19 has witnessed a major impact on individuals and organisations. Production, sales and registrations for all vehicles are on hold for now and are expected to continue for the major part of 2020. It will be some time before customer purchasing power and sentiments recover fully.
As for Creta’s competitors, they now carry all necessary features and cover all parameters buyers demand in the SUV segment. Be it refinement, comfort, robustness, features or performance, Creta’s rivals have been equipped to entice customers equally. All we can say is that Hyundai’s brand image still makes it a compelling buy, and its aftersales service strength only make the case stronger for the new Creta.
TEXT: Abhijeet Singh