Hyundai Creta

It is Hyundai’s finest hour. The Grand i 10 and Verna are doing good numbers in their respective segments; the Elite i 20 has been a runaway hit ever since its launch and now it is time for the highly anticipated , compact SUV – the Creta. If the official figures are to be believed, the Creta has got around 15,000 bookings in twenty days and these are people who haven’t seen the car or driven it. So what is it that makes this compact SUV so popular among the masses?

For one, it looks a whole segment bigger than its rivals , like the Ecosport, Duster/Terrano twins and Maruti S Cross. The bonnet line appears taller, the cabin has more upright stance and the car appears wider than it already is. The plastic cladding is well integrated into the body and looks the part. The styling is bang – on contemporary and upmarket, especially on the top end version with suitable 17 inch wheels. The rear end appears to be minimalistic, but the long two piece tail lamps and slightly oversized Hyundai logo make it look balanced. The only issue one can find with the SUV styling is the absence of dedicated side windows for the boot area that usually accentuates the length of the car. The thick C pillar also causes a blind spot while reversing into a busy road.

The interiors of the Creta are also well thought out. If you think, the Duster’s dashboard feels utilitarian and the Ecosport’s is too busy and confusing, you will feel at home in the Creta. It looks flat for the most part, but then it is layered and flows neatly into the door pads. The centre console in the top spec car gets a touchscreen infotainment unit with AC vents on either side. The seats are comfy and have good cushioning and feel plush. There is ample space for rear passengers and enough space in the boot for a weekend drive. It comes loaded with equipments , making it more of a poor man’s Santa Fe.

The Creta comes with three engine options – a 1.6 litre petrol and two diesels in 1.4 and 1.6 litre capacities – all of which are offered on the Verna as well. The 1.4 litre diesel has 90 bhp and 22.4 kgm toque which should be adequate for most. Given that Hyundai went a bit overboard with the pricing the 1.4 model , more financial sense it  too. It has a good midrange performance and won’t feel out of breath on the highways, but if you want effortless performance you have to look at the 1.6 litre diesel with its 126 bhp and 26.5 kg-m torque. This engine feels refined and has good power once on the move. Turbo lag is minimal till about 1750 rpm and there is a surge of power thereafter. It comes mated to a 6 speed manual box that feels light enough to slot between gears and has a light clutch to ease city driving. The variant that has got everyone waiting however is the diesel automatic. The Verna also comes with a automatic gearbox in the 1.6 litre model, but that is a four speed automatic. The Creta borrows its more advanced six speed torque convertor auto box from the more expensive Elantra. Thanks to the torque convertor, the Creta feels energetic when moving off the line. It also has a tiptronic function for manual gear changes. This gearbox feels well calibrated and shifts up smoothly for everyday driving. It’s only when you are driving enthusiastically that the gearbox feels slow to deliver downshifts on time. And no, the manual override doesn’t help deliver the gears any faster.

Although it isn’t as good as a Duster or Terrano, the Creta rides very well on broken patches and the suspension has loads of wheel travel before bottoming out. The suspension also performs silently, which combined with the overall NVH levels of the car, makes for a comfortable ride. Where it disappoints is in the handling department – like most Hyundai cars. The steering feels lifeless, the car feels unsettled and the whole driving experience feels disconnected to the rest of the car. It lacks grip and there is a hint of body roll, but nothing worrying for a car this tall. The brakes too feel soft and gutless, although they don’t seem inadequate under full braking.

The Creta is Hyundai’s greatest hits and confidence has been all time high for the Korean manufacturer who is otherwise known to price its cars rather competitively. With pricing starting from Rs.8.59 lakhs and stretching upto 13.59 lakhs (Exshowroom Delhi prices) the Creta is a bit overpriced and Hyundai thinks it can pull it off. Well if you can overlook the premium pricing, there isn’t much else wrong with it and the Creta provides a good alternative to its established rivals.

ViVek Venugopal