Ever since its launch, the Hyundai Creta has enjoyed an almost exclusive space for itself among a herd of compact SUVs flooding the market. While no other carmaker has come close enough to challenge the Creta in terms of performance, features and premiumness, a contender has emerged with the potential to turn the tables in its favour. Nissan recently launched the brand new Kicks in India with an ambition to reinvent itself for the Indian market. The Kicks in India is larger than its global counterpart and boasts of segment-first features. Lining it up alongside the Hyundai Creta, Auto Tech Review ran a head-to-head comparison of both compact SUVs to evaluate performance, comfort, safety, space and more. Read on for the significant and conclusive findings.
Hyundai brought the Creta to India in 2015. The compact SUV was quick to captivate the interest of many buyers looking for an urban SUV that held a distinct aspirational value to it. Since then, the Creta has sold in big numbers to rank among the top SUVs sold in India. The Kicks, on the other hand, has been running globally and has finally been brought to India on the Terrano’s M0 platform, giving it a bigger avatar.
Nissan has given the Kicks a competitive edge with top-of-the-line safety features such as a quad airbag set-up and a segment-first 360° camera system, alongside driver aides such as ABS with EBD and brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, hill start assist among others. To run a comprehensive head-to-head comparison, we lined up a top specification diesel manual variant of the Hyundai Creta and Nissan Kicks. Through the evaluations, we bring our readers exclusive data on interior dimensions, air-conditioning cooling performance, 0-100 km/h and 100-0 km/h test timings.
VEHICLE DYNAMICS & POWERTRAIN PERFORMANCE
For the first test, we mapped the acceleration of both Kicks and Creta in a controlled environment. While both the Kicks and Creta boast of power figures ranging in three digit figures, the Hyundai Creta offers more punch with its 1.6 l, four-cylinder, VGT diesel mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The Kicks, on the other hand, gets a finely tuned 1.5 l, four-cylinder, turbo diesel mill married to a six-speed transmission.
Our acceleration test was conclusive with the Creta coming out on top, delivering an engine power output of 126 hp at 4,000 rpm. The Hyundai Creta was not only quicker off the line, but also attained a 100 km/h from standstill in a matter of 12.32 s. The Kicks reached this triple digit mark a whole 2.16 s later. The best time we recorded for the Kicks stood at
14.44 s. The Hyundai Creta was also quicker at 60 km/h and recorded a time of 5.92 s, while the Kicks achieved this mark in 7.89 s.
The clear indication here is that despite boasting of 108 hp coming in at 3,850 rpm, the Kicks is mildly slower than the Creta. But when it comes to stopping power, the new Nissan Kicks fares better. In our panic braking tests, the Kicks came to a halt from a 100 km/h a shade quicker than the Creta. We also felt that under stressful braking, the Nissan Kicks felt more surefooted than the Creta. The Kicks halted to standstill in 4.47 s, while the Creta’s took 4.89 s for the same test.
The Nissan Kicks offers ample driver aides, but the Creta goes a step further with an electronic stability control programme and vehicle stability management. Nissan has countered this with the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) that aids with steering, braking and slipping during certain situations. While testing both compact SUVs, we felt that the McPherson Strut with coil springs, stabiliser bar and double acting shock absorbers on the Nissan Kicks offered a more stable and sturdy ride. Another point to be noted here is the steering set-up, while driving on highways and in crowded city streets, we felt that the steering set-up on the Creta to be much lighter than that of the Kicks. Navigating through traffic or parking in tight spots is a lot easier on the Creta and a bit cumbersome on the Kicks. The rear parking display and camera display set-up on the Kicks was found to be better than that of Creta.
COMFORT, SPACE & CONVENIENCE
While both Nissan Kicks and the Hyundai Creta offer relatively spacious cabins, both vehicles come with different dimensions, thus having varying cabin space. Looking closely at the dimensions, we notice the Kicks is 114 mm longer and 33 mm wider than the Creta. Further, it has a wheelbase that measures up 83 mm more than the Creta. Creta, on the other hand, is taller than the Kicks by roughly 9 mm. While measuring interior cabin space we noted that the Kicks offers the same shoulder room for front seat occupants, as the Creta. But for rear seat occupants, the Kicks has 18 mm more shoulder room. In terms of head room, the Creta offers an additional 40 mm headroom for front seat occupants over the Kicks. Rear seat headroom on the Creta measures 55 mm more than that of the Nissan Kicks, making the Creta more comfortable for taller occupants.
To measure the air-conditioning performance, we made use of an HTC instruments MT 04 laser guided infrared thermometer. We took surface temperature readings inside the cabins of both compact SUVs mid-day, after the vehicles were parked for 15 min. At the beginning of the test, the average temperature inside the cabin of the Creta stood at 39.05 °C and that of the Kicks stood at 38.15 °C. We noted a sharp drop in temperature inside both cabins after two minutes had elapsed. But the average surface temperature inside the Kicks was lower than that of the Creta by nearly 3.55 °C.
Probing further, we noted that the drop was owing to a sharp drop in rear seat surface temperatures. The average temperature for rear seat surface was noted at 23.5 °C, while that of the Creta stood at 28.95 °C, indicating a better distribution of cooled air in the rear section of the Nissan Kicks. After a total of 10 min, the average cabin surface temperatures inside the cabin of the Kicks had fallen to 15.55 °C while in the Creta, this stood at 16.1 °C. Both air-conditioning units on the Kicks and the Creta were nearly similar, but here the decisive victory went to the Nissan Kicks.
The top specification variants of both Kicks and Creta come loaded to the brim with kit. Features such as automatic climate control, electrically operated ORVMs, touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, rear AC vents, dual 12 V sockets, USB and AUX slots, steering mounted controls, cruise control, keyless entry and pushbutton start/ stop are common on both vehicles. However, the Kicks gets a 360° camera system, cooled glovebox, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps and an ECO mode, features that Hyundai has not offered on the competing variant of the Creta. On the other hand, the Creta offers an electric sunroof, six-way power adjusted driver seat, wireless phone charging (for Qi enabled devices), autodimming inside rear view mirror, height adjustable seatbelts and sliding armrest with storage, features that the Kicks does not get.
While both Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Creta have a robust exterior and luxurious interior, the Creta stands out for its overall performance. However, the Kicks offers better cabin cooling and generous volumes of shoulder room. We also mapped the NVH levels on both vehicles, and found that the NVH levels on the Kicks was slightly better than that of the Hyundai Creta. The maximum sound level recorded on SLM (Sound Level Metre) in the Creta stood at 81.1 dB (A), while that of the Kicks stood at 74.4 dB (A). In the FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) vs Time test as well, we found that noise insulation to be mildly better on the Kicks.
Considering all factors involved, we found both Kicks and Creta to be nearly equal contenders. But to address the big question, does Nissan’s new contender have ‘enough’ to kick the Creta out of its top spot? The answer is both yes and no. Yes because the value for money quotient; the top spec variant of the Kicks is being offered at a price point of around Rs 2 lakh lower than that of the Creta. And no because the Creta offers a better performance and is a little more comfortable to drive and travel in.
TEXT: Joshua David Luther