The Indian car market has evolved. What once used to be regarded as an arena where affordable hatches were pitted against each other, has turned into a ring where affordable premium utility vehicles and crossovers are battling it out. Customer awareness has increased, and demands have grown. And looking at the marvellous machines now on offer across the country, automobile majors have been only too eager to oblige.
A few years ago, a premium car meant an expensive proposition put up for sale by a luxury carmaker, which had few rich patrons as takers. Today’s young and affluent are looking for a new experience, which is reasonably priced, yet distinct. The booming B+ segment, which is also the niche where competition is the most intense, is looking to cater to just this demand.
South Korean auto giant Hyundai, which is India’s second largest carmaker, recently rolled out the Creta, a global SUV (sports utility vehicle) which it has claimed for the new generation. The word ‘Creta’ is derived from the word ‘create’, and yes at first glance, the Creta is a lovely creation. The company claims the Creta to be an SUV with a unique and innovative form, representing a complete package of style, dynamism, and practicality.
Exteriors: Clearly bold
On first setting our eyes on the car, its bulky, yet sleek stance wowed us. The young SUV boasts of an aggressive design, and carries many elements of its larger sibling ‘Santa Fe’. At an imposing length of 4,270 mm, width of 1,780 mm, and height of 1,630 mm, the Creta sure is impressive. The design seems to flow from Hyundai’s hallmark Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 philosophy, with the refinements lending a modern and premium touch. The car’s exterior appeal conveys a strong road presence. The Creta’s triple slat chrome radiator grille makes a bold statement, while the smoothly creased hood, projector headlamps integrated with LED positioning lamps, vertical fog lamps, sporty stylish skid plate, and dual-tone front bumper enhances the vehicle’s strong and distinctive SUV character.
A few other exterior features that stand out are the car’s rising beltline with sloping roofline, and the dynamic character lines that grant a sporty and aerodynamic splash to the side profile.
The rear profile showcases a stylish dual-layered step tailgate design with impactful crease lines.
Topping it all up, like cherry on the cake, are the extremely good-looking diamond-cut 17-inch alloy wheels promising an enjoyable driving experience.
The fact remains that the Creta is one of the largest cars in its segment, and its robustness assures one of the immense space that the interiors present.
Interiors: Style rules
The roominess of the Creta is inviting. The car’s stylish and bold appearance harmonises well with its smart and high-quality premium interiors; achieved by a combination of high-grade material. It’s like entering a new-age zone with a nice mix of technology, space, and plush and comfy seating. Looking further, we find that the well-cushioned and comfortable seats offer optimum thigh and back support, giving a sense of added security while on the drive. Also, the seats are covered in full-leather upholstery, exuding a sense of modernity and luxury.
There is enough space in the front and the back to offer a comfortable long drive in the Creta for five (including the driver).
The dashboard is dotted with several futuristic elements shaped by the water flow-inspired design. The overall ambience makes the cabin environment pleasing and enjoyable. For rear passengers, the rear aircon vent and seat centre armrest with cup-holders are an added bonus, besides the seating comfort they will experience. The car offers few thoughtful features such as full- automatic temperature control and electric folding ORVM (outside rear view mirror), which add an extra touch of premium to the Creta.
The next generation infotainment system seamlessly connects all gadgets and devices. The SUV’s multimedia system carries a seven-inch Audio Video Navigation (AVN) with six-speaker sound system, which also features Advance Touch interface, maps, video playing and image viewing capability through USB, Bluetooth support, and rear camera display.
Adding to the entertainment package is an option of five-inch touch screen audio system that features Aux-in, iPod, USB, MP3, CD, and Bluetooth support with 1 GB memory. The drive: A great city car
It’s imperative for any premium car today to provide a few essential features, so it can earn the ‘premium’ tag. Hyundai has paid much attention to this aspect, and we get a smart key with push-button start. The Creta and we are away. It’s close to noon in Bengaluru, and the morning rush hour is slowly building up. There is a good amount of traffic on the road, and where we thought it would be a challenge for a mid-sized SUV to negotiate through all the traffic, the Creta surprises us by finding its way through the little gaps quite effortlessly, proving that it’s a great city car.
The car that we are driving is charged by a refined, powerful petrol engine. The Hyundai Creta 1.6-Gamma Dual VTVT Petrol Engine has an engine capacity of 1,591 cc, dishing out maximum power of 123 ps/6,400 rpm @, and maximum torque of 15.4 kgm/4,850 rpm. We find that the car is quite responsive to the acceleration at first gear, and immediately takes off to a reasonable pace of around 60 kmph. The car does gather enough city road despite the many ditches and puddles that the Bengaluru roads are infamous for.
The six-speed manual transmission on the petrol version is a good addition, but it must be said that there is a little lag that we feel between gear shifts, and as the car picks up more speed, the gears must be shifted more regularly. And for a 1.6-litre engine, the SUV feels a tad underpowered.
We head to the grape-growing belt outside Bengaluru, away from the traffic din, and to see how the Creta performs on open roads. The area is lush with all the green environs welcoming us for some auto adventures to be had. We pep up the accel pedal, and again, the engine’s turbo lag is sensed. For an SUV, the Creta’s petrol engine gradually picks up speed, even as it touches speeds in excess of over 160 kmph, eventually. Even when we try to race our way through the steep hairpins of Nandi Hills, the car requests dropping gears from fourth to third, relenting only when the second gear is in place.
But we are pleasantly surprised with the way the car behaves during a short off-road spin that we have in the fields nearby. The car’s cabin feels like a secure shell, and an unparalleled lap of comfort. With a ground clearance of 190 mm, and a wheelbase of 2,590 mm, the Hyundai Creta makes mincemeat of all the obstacles thrown at it.
Overall, despite a few shortcomings about power, the car is a pleasure to drive, and is versatile to serve its SUV purpose well. It’s also a very safe car to drive, keeping with Hyundai’s ‘Safe-Drive Philosophy’. The Creta’s six airbags, ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), and vehicle stability management (VSM) reiterate its safe character and purpose. Apart from that, a hillstart assist control (HAC) chips in while the car navigates inclined roads and sloppy terrain. Between all this, it claims to offer a mileage of 15.29 kmpl.
A secret up Creta’s sleeve is its huge 400-litre boot space. Another point scored by Hyundai is the Creta being offered with a six-speed automatic transmission on its diesel variant. With the Creta, Hyundai has once again proved why it is one of India’s most revered carmakers. The car’s prices begin from Rs 8,69,888 (ex-showroom Bengaluru).
When we finish our drive, we are as fresh as ever, with no stress around, thanks to the flawless interior space and seating of the Creta, the magic of automobile creativity.