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Hyundai Creta preview

S. Muralidhar Chennai | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on June 27, 2015

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The compact SUV will finally be ready to erupt onto the scene by the end of July. Here are our first impressions after test driving the SUV at Hyundai's test track.

Hyundai has been missing a sports utility vehicle in its India portfolio for a while now. Its earlier attempts at breaking into the SUV club weren’t very successful, except for the SantaFe, which, though it has not sold in big numbers, has still managed to gain a loyal following. However, the other SUVs that Hyundai launched earlier in the Indian market like the Tucson and Terracan couldn’t really manage much acceptance. Either they were too early into the market or Hyundai hadn’t grown in the Indian buyer’s mindspace as a manufacturer of premium vehicles.

Of course, the scenario has changed dramatically during the last five years and Hyundai has grown leaps and bounds in the buyer’s esteem with cars like the Grande i10 and the new i20. On the back of the success of these cars, Hyundai will now hope to break into the compact SUV segment with the Creta. The new vehicle will take on the likes of the Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano, the Ford EcoSport and the Maruti S-Cross, which will be launched before the Creta.

With the rising popularity of the SUV body style, especially amongst sedan owners, there has been a steady increase in demand for compact SUVs. The Creta will likely be positioned and priced aggressively to fit into this slot.

Design & Build

In terms of design, the Creta sports Version 2 of the Fluidic design language. The hexagonal bonnet grille with three, broad chrome slats and the peeled back headlamps are easily identifiable as the Hyundai design standard. The Creta is based on Hyundai’s ix25 and its design is fundamentally SUV than the i20 Active, the stylised variant on the i20. The Creta has been built on what Hyundai calls the Hive Structure, a light-weight body that uses quite a bit of high tensile steel. The Creta’s stance is more upright and the proportions are ideal to deliver on the compact SUV promise that it will attempt to fulfill.

A large bumper with extended cladding over the front fender is made to seem like a bull-bar and a simulated underguard below gives the Creta’s front a fairly aggressive look. The headlamps feature a LED strip and large fog lamps add more character to the vehicle. The floating roof is the other design element that is sure to catch your eye in the Creta’s design. The blacked out A-pillar and the rising beltline brings up the rear of the vehicle making it look larger than it really is.

At the rear, the individual elements seem like a mash of design inspiration from many of Hyundai’s other models. But, it falls in place nicely, and gives it a fairly strong rear design too. The thick C-pillar is a bit of an obstruction for driver visibility, but contributes to the strength of the rear design. On the contrary, the A-pillar is relatively thin, improving visibility at the front blind-spot area.

The tail-lamps are large units with their overall design matching the headlamps. The tail-gate has been designed to curve out and cut deep into the rear bumper. Boot loading height is quite low and like in the front, there is a simulated underguard in the rear fender too. The body side cladding is not unnecessarily bulky, but the wheel arches are pronounced and proportionate, helping the Creta still sport a squat stance on the road.

Cabin

The Creta’s cabin is a reflection of Hyundai’s improved build quality over the last few years. The quality of materials used and that of the knobs and fixtures are excellent. There is a general air of familiarity inside the cabin due to the number of shared parts. The steering wheel seems very much like the i20’s. The simple steering mounted controls should be adequate for most driver needs. The dashboard itself is not exactly plush, but is premium enough to satisfy most buyers in this segment.

The centre stack is topped by a thin info-display that is shaded by a brow-like extension of the dashboard. The airconditioner vents feature a new shape and there is automatic climate control available for the top-end variants. The 2-DIN infotainment display features controls along its sides. The interior colour theme is dark grey and beige. The interior space of the Creta is good overall with rear seat legroom being particularly impressive. Rear airconditioner vents are standard. The boot space could be above 400 litres; offical figures are still awaited.

Performance

The Creta will be offered with one petrol and two diesel engines - the 1.6-litre dual VTVT petrol, and the U2 1.4 CRDi and U2 1.6 CRDi VGT diesel engines. The transmission options include a 6-speed manual for the petrol, and the same manual and a 6-speed automatic transmission for the diesel engine. Hyundai officials didn't disclose all the details about the engine and its power and torque figures. But, the Gamma 1.6 dual VTVT petrol is said to offer 123PS of power and the 1.6 CRDi VGT is capable of delivering 128PS of power in both the manual and auto gearbox variants.

We tested the car in the company's test track at the plant in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai. The 1.6L diesel's manual and automatic variants were on offer. The engine feels refined and cabin noise levels are really low. The car pulls clean from as low as 25 km in third gear. Gear shift quality in the manual is very slick, though we would have preferred a slightly shorter stick. Engine red-line was at about 5,200rpm. The gear ratios also seem to have been set for fewer shifts and a wide range.

The ride quality in the Creta is quite sorted. The suspension seems to have been tuned to be very similar to the set up in the i20. Neither too rigid nor too pliant, the vehicle is composed over rough patches. Body roll is not too bothersome, though there is a bit of it evident when you put the car through tight corners. The NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) level has, however, been well contained with a number of additions such as the thicker dashboard panels, anti-vibration pads on the floor panel and optimised rigidity for the central floor tunnel. Steering feel is decent, though it not as precise as cars in the higher segment.

Bottomline

The Creta has been much awaited and certainly looks like it has the wares for it to become the preferred compact SUV in the market. There is also likely to be the typical Hyundai delivery of better value. Depending on the variant, features such as leather seats, shark fin antenna, 17-inch alloys, reverse parking camera, push button start, and electrically folding mirrors are available. Increased safety features in the options package includes six airbags (side and curtain airbags).

Hyundai is planning four trim options, some of them sport fewer features. So, it does look like the spread of prices will also be quite wide. We expect prices to be in the range of about Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12 lakh (ex-showroom). The Creta will be officially launched on July 21 this year.

Published on June 27, 2015
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