The Hyundai Creta is the most popular compact-SUV in its segment and has been a benchmark ever since it was first launched in 2015. Its popularity is unmatched and the sales figure reflect the same. When the sales figure came out for the month of June, the Creta managed to get the second spot, only after the Maruti Suzuki Alto. The only formidable contender of the Creta is its own Korean cousin, the Kia Seltos. Both the cars use the same platform, powertrain options and transmissions.
But they differ in their approach. While the Seltos is more driver-focused, the Creta is focused on being a more family-friendly and practical car. We recently got the chance to get behind the wheels of the all-new 1.4-litre DCT Creta to find what makes it such a popular offering in the Indian sub-continent.
Looks and design
It might have gained in every dimensional aspect but every other car in its segment is still bigger than the Creta. It basically defines the word ‘compact’ in the compact-SUV segment. When it comes to the looks, the Korean manufacturer has taken a rather radical approach. It isn’t what you would call traditional or contemporary. While the previous-gen Creta was appealing to everyone’s eyes, the new Creta might attract a few heads nodding in disagreement. The overall design is rather funky. The front is highlighted by LED headlights which are adorned by eyebrow-ed LED DRLs. The top-of-the-line variant that we drove gets dark-chrome treatment on the grille while the other variants get standard chrome or no chrome, depending on the variant that you choose.
The overall build from the outside feels pretty solid and that reassuring Hyundai feel is still there. The side profile gels well with the rest of the car and the wide haunches above the tyres provide the visual flair. The variant that we drove had a dual-coloured roof and the roof rails were blackened out, which look sporty. You get 17” wheels in higher variants while the lower variants make do with 16” wheels. The alloy wheel designs depend on the variants you choose. The rear looks in line with the rest of the car and turbo variants also get twin-exhaust mufflers accompanied with a faux rear diffuser. Another noteworthy addition is the automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers.
Engine and performance
Like we mentioned earlier, we got to drive the 1.4-litre turbo-petrol with 7-speed DCT transmission. For the purists out there who want to tread down the manual way, there’s no manual transmission available with this engine option. The Kia Seltos, on the other hand, gets a manual. But to our joy, this is by far one of the best engine-transmission combos that we have experienced so far. The turbo-petrol mill churns out 140PS of peak power @ 6000 rpm and 242NM of torque @ 1500-3200 rpm. The engine’s power delivery is very linear and it is devoid of any turbo lag whatsoever. You might think that the turbo petrol motor is performance-oriented but it works very efficiently in day to day use as well. It feels sufficiently powerful and tractable at the same time.
The 7-speed DCT automatic transmission offers seamless shifts and works in perfect conjunction with the sprightly petrol motor. It is an efficient motor too with ARAI certified fuel efficiency of 16.8 KMPL. The Transmission masks the mild jerks of the engine very nicely and thwarts the notion that automatic gearboxes are boring. Other powertrain options include a 1.5-litre Mpi petrol engine producing 115 PS of power and 144 Nm of torque and a 1.5-litre U2 CRDi diesel engine producing 115 PS of power and 250 Nm of torque.
Ride and handling
One of the key factors which have worked in Creta’s favour all these years is its ride quality. Our roads aren’t the best of the lot and manufacturers really need to nail the suspension setup in order to provide a plush ride. The Hyundai Creta manages to excel in that department. The suspension setup isn’t very stiff and you would find yourself gliding over potholes. The ground clearance too seems sufficient to tackle the notorious Indian roads. The steering is light in typical Hyundai fashion but weighs up nicely if you slot it in the sport mode. The Creta, despite its size and characteristics, is very easily manoeuvrable and the u-turns are particularly effortless. It is what makes it a great city car too.
For those who want to have that extra bit of fun with the automatic transmission, Hyundai is also offering paddle shifters which the Kia Seltos misses out on. You also get three driving modes, namely eco, sport and comfort mode. There are three different settings for the traction control available too: Snow, mud and sand. Though it might not be a 4×4 vehicle, the TC might provide a bit of assistance in getting you out of tricky situations. When you push it around the corners, you would notice that slight body roll is present which is expected from a car which belongs to this segment but the handling is predictable. You also get the safety net of ABS and ESP. The assured Hyundai feel is always present and it is made prominent every second of your drive that it is a well-built car.
One of the most foremost things that you will feel when you get inside the car and get going is that it is a very well-insulated cabin and is devoid of any external noise. The steering wheel’s D-cut design particularly got our attention and it adds that pinch of sportiness in the cabin. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable and is ventilated too. The feature list is very long and includes a tyre pressure monitoring system, panoramic sunroof, Bose-sourced 8-speaker sound system, BlueLink integrated voice command, automatic AC, wireless charger, hill-hold assist, air purifier and sun blinders. The 7-inch MID screen in the instrument cluster is limited to higher variants and provides all the necessary information. It also changes colours depending on the driving mode selected. The tachometer and fuel indicators are hard to read through.
Taking centre stage in the cabin is the driver-oriented 10.25-inch infotainment screen which comes with BlueLink connectivity accompanied by Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The user interface is very intuitive and is very comprehensive too. It sort of feels unreal how modern cars have become in this new age of connectivity.
The storage spaces are very generous and Hyundai has used soft-touch materials all around, except for the dashboard. Another gripe that we have from the Creta is the absence of a telescopic steering wheel and a 360-degree camera. The AC works efficiently and in conjunction with the air purifier which can also discharge perfume in case the atmosphere inside the cabin becomes a little smelly. There are orange accents splattered all over the cabin which further enhance the sporty feel.
The seats deserve a special mention because they are the comfiest of the lot and provide good under-thigh support and bolstering on the side. Same goes for the rear seats too. The knee room at the back is generous and so is the headroom. Things get a little uncomfortable for the middle occupant though if there are 3 adults seated at the back because there’s no headrest and the lump created by integrated armrests prove to be a little uncomfortable. The rear seat can be split in 60:40 ratio to increase the luggage holding capacity. The boot space stands at a generous 433 litres.
The Hyundai Creta is now more feature-packed than before and with the turbo-petrol mill, it packs optimum performance too. There are very few things where the Creta could have been better but these small niggles can be easily ignored once you bring in the practicality it brings on the table. It might be made by a Korean company but it is unreal how well it suits our driving conditions. And that is what makes it such a popular car!