Hyundai Alcazar | First impressions of styling, interiors and driving
The Hyundai Alcazar is based on the Hyundai Creta, but it is so much more than an SUV with a longer rear overhang!
The Hyundai Alcazar, a 7-seater SUV based on the Creta is on the way! And we’ve driven it! A few days ago, we were invited by Hyundai India to have a peek around the prototype cars and get behind their wheel. And from first impressions, it seems like Hyundai has done a thorough job with the Alcazar. Hyundai has taken a different approach from what Tata did with the Harrier and Safari. Instead of simply increasing the rear overhang, Hyundai has increased the wheelbase of the Creta by a whole 150mm, while going about the usual styling and interior changes. This increase in wheelbase has obviously required Hyundai to make changes to the doors, the roof and the whole rear section. But that’s not all, there is also a new engine on offer! We’ll come to that in a bit. First, let’s talk styling.
Hyundai Alcazar design
The prototypes have heavy camouflage on them, but at the event, Hyundai allowed us to look at the Alcazar in production guise, with the wraps off. So, bear with me as I do my best to describe what I saw, while you allow your imagination to conjure up an image in your head. From up front, the face is unmistakeable. It looks like the Creta, however certain key styling elements have been tweaked to set it apart from the 5-seater. The most significant change is to the grille. It has a new pattern and the grille is finished in a gunmetal grey. The other not-so-significant change is to the DRL signature, which has been mildly tweaked with an additional element in the Alcazar.
When you move over to the side, you notice the real changes. The Alcazar is visibly longer than the Creta, and a lot of that width has been added behind the B-pillar — giving the Alcazar a much longer rear door than the Creta’s. The Alcazar gets 18-inch wheels on its top end trim (as opposed to 17s on the Creta) and also gets disc brakes at the rear, standard across all variants. There’s also a footboard that has been neatly integrated in to the side of the car, to help ingress and egress, particularly for the third row. The styling at the rear has been changed drastically. The taillamps are more conventional looking compared to the Creta’s and they have a chrome strip running through them. Undisguised, the rear end looked rather similar to the Ford Endeavour though it doesn’t have the sheer size of the Endy. Overall, the styling has been executed well. The extra length has been integrated in the design nicely, it looks proportionate, though it would be hard to call handsome. It is a big car car, with a wheelbase of 2760mm (bigger than the Hector Plus and Safari!), though it is no wider or taller than a Creta. And that means, in the flesh, it lacks the visual presence of the Safari.
Hyundai Alcazar interiors
We haven’t been told what the final equipment levels will be in the production car, and the cars we drove had camouflaged dashboards so there’s not much we can say on this front. But Hyundai has made it very clear that the Alcazar is focussed around comfort and luxury, and the interiors will reflect that. What we do know is that the Alcazar will be available in both 6- and 7-seater guises. The 7-seater gets a bench for the second row while the 6-seater gets captain seats. And unless you need all seven seats, my recommendation would be to go for the variant with captain seats as it is far more comfortable. Knee room in the second row is adequate and it isn’t helped by a tray table that eats in to that space, but headroom is great. The Alcazar also gets the large panoramic sunroof from the Creta. Now in the third row, space is limited. It is going to be a squeeze for adults and it is best suited to kids. That said, the third row does get its own AC unit to ensure adequate cooling at the back, while the glass area for third row passengers is good so they don’t feel cramped. The third row folds flat to increase boot space, while the spare wheel has been moved to under the car. As for the dashboard, we suspect it will get the same architecture from the Creta, though there seems to be a great-looking digital instrument cluster headed our way.
There will be two engines on offer. The diesel engine will be shared with the Creta — a 1.5-litre putting out 113.5bhp and 250Nm. The second is a 2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine. This is the same engine from the Tucson, but has been improved upon and now makes more power and slightly less torque, 157bhp (+7bhp) and 191Nm (-1.2Nm). Both engines come with the options of manuals and automatic gearboxes, torque convertors in both cases. Now we didn’t drive the diesel, though Hyundai has claimed to have tweaked the gear ratios to optimise it for the Alcazar. What we did drive was the petrol with the manual gearbox. The engine stands out for its refinement and punchiness — it certainly feels quicker than the Creta’s petrol engine. This may be a nat-asp motor, but it doesn’t rev very freely and hold on to revs when you get off the throttle — typical of cars with heavy flywheels. But while it does feel lumbering while the tacho needle climbs, the motor has a fair bit of poke. Hyundai has given the Alcazar a bigger engine obviously to position it above the Creta, though I suspect the diesel engine will be the more popular of the two configurations. It must be noted that the Alcazar is approximately 200kg heavier than the Creta, and that will affect its straight line performance.
Ride and handling
The ride quality has been improved upon compared to the Creta. The damping feels a little more sophisticated particularly when riding over bad roads, and it feels a little more tied down. Noise from the suspension has also been improved with better bushings. Another important change is the switch to dampers with hydraulic bump stops, again allowing for better cushioning and giving you a sense that the car irons out bumps more confidently. The ride at the rear does feel a little firmer, and this has likely been done to deal better with the extra weight that the Alcazar will have to carry. When we drove our long-term Creta to Goa, we found it to be bottoming out rather easily once the boot was packed and three people were in the backseat. This will hopefully be fixed with the Alcazar!
On the handling front, it feels on par with the Creta. Despite its extra length, it doesn’t feel unwieldy and will corner confidently. I don’t think your passengers, particularly at the back will appreciate you pushing the car so hard, but then again, this is not a car that you want to be pushing hard in the first place. Enjoy driving? The Creta with its turbo-petrol and DCT should be your pick. The Alcazar is focussed more on comfort, and the driving should be likewise.
Hyundai Alcazar price:
The Hyundai Alcazar is more than just a 7-seat version of the Creta, and the price is likely to reflect that. We estimate the Alcazar to cost between Rs 1 lakh - Rs 1.5 lakh more than the Creta variant-to-variant. There has been a fair bit of reengineering that has gone in to this platform, and the insides are a little bit richer as well. The Alcazar will go up against the likes of the MG Hector Plus and the Tata Safari, and while it should undercut the Safari, prices should be on par with the Hector Plus. The global debut of the Alcazar will take place at the end of April, after which we will have more details about the equipment levels and features this SUV will come packing with. But as things stand, Hyundai seem to have a really strong product on their hands — one that will build on the success of the Creta, by appealing to a whole new demographic.