The Hyundai Creta has managed to generate a lot of hype this year and the initial numbers too suggest a resounding success for the company. Beyond the initial hype though, a vehicle's actual success/ failure becomes clear only later. We were recently invited by Hyundai to drive the Creta from Pune to Lonavla and back. During the drive we put the vehicle through a host of varying conditions to find out its real-world worthiness. We also try to analyse if Hyundai's premium pricing on the Creta is justified.
Needless to say, the compact SUV/ crossover segment has taken off well in the Indian market in recent times. Unsurprisingly, companies are fighting aggressively in this space for winning customers with new models. Hyundai although late to enter this space is now ready and that too with a product that has managed to rattle the competition for now. The Creta hence is an extremely important vehicle for the company and promising too.
Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture has in general found good acceptance in the Indian market and the Elite i20 is the most popular of them all. With the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, the Creta follows the same approach. Sharp angles, edges and multiple lines is what defines this design language and while it may not be a timeless design, it surely is attention-grabbing.
The triple slat chrome radiator grille nestled between a smooth hood and aggressive bumper lend a premium and modern look to the Creta. Projector headlamps with LED positioning lamps and a skid plate add further to the dynamic and SUV look. As a result, the Creta looks like a smaller Santa Fe and that is good praise for a compact SUV.
The side angle is quite dramatic for the Creta and totally in the positive sense. An upward sloping shoulder line along with a tapering roofline create a sharp and dynamic glasshouse area. The diamond cut 17-inch optional alloy wheels are the pick of the wheel options and are praiseworthy. Tail lamp design bears resemblance to headlamps and on a clean tailgate give the rear a tall look. The sporty bumper along with the skid plate complements the design theme well.
Inside the cabin, the Creta impressed us more than expected with its modern, aesthetic and functional design. The material quality is impressive by segment standards and build quality too deserves appreciation. Seats upfront are adequately sized and offer good under thigh, back and side support. Rear seats too offer good comfort as space is in abundance inside the Creta. Rear legroom is exceptionally good and although the roofline tapers, headroom isn't inadequate for people as tall as 5ft 10 inches or so. What can be a concern for rear-seat passengers is the small glass area due to the rising line outside. This takes away some of the airy-feel from an otherwise generously-sized cabin.
Equipment list is long and segment-best in the Creta and will draw many buyers to Hyundai showrooms. The smart-looking dashboard houses a well-equipped infotainment system with a seven-inch touch screen showing navigation and rear camera display. The touch is responsive and control layout on the screen is user-friendly. Media inputs include USB, Bluetooth, Aux, iPOD, CD and a 1 GB on-board memory.
Like most Hyundai offerings, the Creta offers multiple engine and transmission options including a 1.6 l Gamma Dual VTVT petrol engine, developing about 121 hp and 151 Nm of torque @ 4,850 rpm. This engine is only available with a six-speed manual transmission. Diesel options include a 1.4 l U2 CRDi unit making about 89 hp and 220 Nm between 1,500 and 2,750 rpm.
The more powerful option is a 1.6 l U2 CRDi VGT unit, developing about 126 hp and 260 Nm between 1,900 and 2,750 rpm. This engine can be ordered with a six-speed manual or a segment-first six-speed automatic unit. The 1.6 l diesel unit offers a good surge of power, provided the tacho needle floats above the 2,000 mark. Below that engine response is a bit dull in traffic scenarios. The six-speed manual transmission too offers smooth shifts along with well-sorted ratios.
The diesel engine when coupled with the automatic transmission is the version to go for in our opinion. Not only does one get the convenience of an automatic but the unit shifts pretty quick to make for a pleasurable drive as well. The only slight downside to it is its momentary hesitance to downshift but you'll only notice that when pushing the vehicle really hard.
The 1.6 l petrol engine offers decent performance and good drivability overall. In-gear acceleration is good and the vehicle manages good speed in the first three gears. We recorded speeds of 50 km/h, 93 km/h and 147 km/h in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear, respectively. Overtaking is effortless on the highway as the mid-range of the engine is pretty strong. NVH-levels are impressive, which isn't surprising given the diesel version's impressive performance in this area. Sound levels are low even when accelerating and the cabin is insulated from engine noise very well. A host of insulation materials along with NVH-optimised design end the Creta with best-in-segment refinement. Owing to an aerodynamic design, wind noise too is minimal when travelling at high speeds.
Hyundai has also ensured these engines are fuel-efficient and claims 15.29 km/l for the 1.6 petrol unit and 21.38 km/l for the 1.4 l diesel unit. The 1.6 l diesel unit is claimed to return 19.67 km/l with a manual box and 17.01 km/l with an automatic one. The difference of about 14 % between these units though is something we would've liked to be lesser, given the technical advancements in automatic transmission technology.
Ride & Handling
The Creta is equipped with a McPherson strut with coil spring upfront and a torsion beam axle with coil spring at the rear. Ride quality is good and the suspension soaks most of the bumps efficiently, keeping the passengers comfortable. Although the Creta has convincing SUV looks, the ride quality is more like a sedan. Even at high speeds, the cabin remains largely insulated from road cracks and expansion joints. During our drive in the hills we encountered patches of road with broken surface and extremely bad condition at times. We also managed to take it off-road exposing it to no roads, inclines and wet surfaces due to a heavy downpour. Although the Creta isn't an off-roader, it managed to walk over everything it encountered, primarily due to its high ground clearance.
Handling like most Hyundai vehicles is biased towards a soft setup but not to an extent to make the Creta a nervous handler. The Creta changes direction with confidence and agility and only at limit one experiences understeer. Body-roll is evident at this point but in normal operating conditions, the Creta comes across as a decent handler and better than a few other vehicles from the Hyundai stable. The steering is a light unit at slow speed and although it does weigh up with increase in velocity, the feedback isn't great but is better than a few other Hyundai cars.
Having driven the Creta through the day we're convinced that the Creta is a winner for Hyundai. Styling, features, space and an exhaustive variant list has a lot going for the Creta. Appreciably, the Creta has been designed to be a safe vehicle instead of being just equipped for the same. 'Hive' structure design consists of ultra-high strength steel (UHSS) & advanced high strength steel (AHSS) with high strength welding joints.
The safety configuration though could've been better in our opinion. ABS is standard across the range but airbags are only available on the S+ variant onwards in petrol option. Six airbags are on offer but only on the top diesel variant. That could be an issue if you're planning to opt for the diesel automatic since it isn't available in top trim and hence one only gets dual-front airbags. The pricing though left us a bit surprised and unlike the past, Hyundai hasn't undercut the competition. Priced between Rs 8.59 lakh to Rs 11.19 lakh for the petrol and Rs 9.46 lakh to Rs 13.60 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi for the diesel, the Creta has been priced and positioned as a premium product. Hyundai has proven with the Elite i20 that lowest-price is not critical to a well-equipped vehicle's fate. Hence, it'll be interesting to see how the Creta performs in the long-run, once the hype is over. Hyundai has struggled to have a successful product in the premium space in the past but despite the somewhat high-pricing, Creta is the company's best bet in this space yet.
That said, the overall packaging of the Creta is impressive and should give a hard time to the competition. It has the ability of serving varied needs for almost everyone while ensuring it delivers in spades. A master of all trades is what we think the Hyundai Creta is.
Text & Photo: Arpit Mahendra