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Words by: Ouseph Chacko
Forget for a moment Urban dictionary’s definition of this car’s name and concentrate instead on what we have here. This is the new Hyundai Creta and will be in showrooms by the time you read this. When that happens, everything from the Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano, Suzuki S-Cross and Mahindra XUV500 will sit up and take notice because these are the cars sitting squarely in the Creta’s crosshairs. They should be worried because typical of Hyundai, the Creta is a very well equipped compact SUV that gives buyers a whole host of engines and transmissions and six trim levels to choose from. It shares its engines with the Verna – there’s a 1.6-litre petrol and two diesels – 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre, the latter will be available with an optional six-speed automatic transmission. Prices start from approximately `9.1 lakh for the base petrol to `14.5 lakh for the top-end diesel automatic. Now that we have the vital statistics out of the way, we also drove it briefly at Hyundai’s test track in Chennai and initial impressions are of a car that is very well rounded.
The Hyundai Creta looks quite handsome and that’s probably why Hyundai already has around 10,000 customers who have put a deposit on the Creta. Unlike a few other compact SUV’s that can be mistaken for hatchbacks, the Creta is unmistakably an SUV. Its upright stance, Santa Fe-like nose and clean styling see to that. The design doesn’t have the muscles of the Duster’s flared fenders but we doubt this will turn buyers off. What’s noticeable is the long wheelbase – 2590mm – and it is something that frees up a lot of space inside. The rear seat is truly spacious with exceptional kneeroom and great headroom with the only downside being that it doesn’t feel as broad as some of its rivals. The clean design of the exteriors follows through on the insides as well – the dashboard is uncluttered and the top-end SX(O) variant we drove comes with a pleasing beige and black theme and neat fit and finish.
The SX(O) comes with push-button start and when you thumb it, the 1.6-litre diesel comes alive and settles into a smooth, quiet idle. Hyundai says a lot of work went into cutting down cabin noise – there’s extra sound insulation in the dashboard and fenders, anti-noise pads on the floor and a special sound deadening coating on the underbody. Even the garnish on the A-pillar has been designed to cut down wind noise and all of this leads to a reasonably silent cabin on the move.
The 126bhp diesel engine from the Verna has some lag and its 260Nm of torque fully kicks in only by 1900rpm. But, the light clutch and slick gearshift won’t make you complain about rowing through the six-speed manual to get around this. It feels more than peppy on boost and there is decent power when you’re off-boost as well.
The other transmission we drove, the six-speed automatic, helps disguise some of the engine’s lag, power delivery feels quite linear and gearshifts are quite smooth as well. It doesn’t like to downshift in a hurry though.
Test tracks are generally smooth and it’s hard to judge the ride quality, so we will reserve our judgement on that for later but what is evident is that the Creta feels stable at speed and when you do throw it around, the ESP cuts in to prevent things from getting out of hand. The steering is typical Hyundai – numb, but reasonably well weighted – and body control is good although there is some roll when you corner it hard.
Also typically Hyundai is the equipment list – this SX(O) comes with auto headlamps, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control , a rear-view camera, navigation system, rear air-con vents, steering-mounted audio and telephony controls and leather upholstery. The lower SX variant gets smaller 16-inch rims instead of the 17-inchers and only two airbags instead of the full six.
Speaking of which, Hyundai is particularly proud of the Creta’s safety structure. Five crossmembers on the roof and a dual underbody load path for the crash structure lends rigidity to the body and it also has additional front fender and rear quarter reinforcements. Overall, the Creta comes across as a very well-rounded package over a broad price band. It’s safe to say that it will do well in India.