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Find out why the new Hyundai Creta is all the rage

As compact crossovers take the Indian car market by storm, the upcoming Hyundai Creta is stirring up a hurricane of its own

Hyundai India has revealed its highly anticipated Creta compact SUV, which is expected to take the compact crossover segment by storm. Prospective customers are already making a beeline for Hyundai cars, and dealers are unable to quote a definitive delivery timeline for the vehicle owing to high demand. We were present at the grand unveiling ceremony for the crossover organised by Hyundai at its Chennai plant, followed by a short drive within the company’s production facility (photography, however, was strictly prohibited).

So, here we have it, the first impressions of the new Hyundai Creta.

What is it?
The Creta is a slightly tweaked, international version of Hyundai’s China specific SUV, the iX25. The new compact SUV puts Hyundai into the highly lucrative compact SUV segment where products like the Ford Ecosport and Renault Duster have turned fortunes of respective carmakers.

Good ground clearance, along with a rugged appeal to appear more suited for the notorious Indian road conditions, and a perceived sense of comfort and safety about SUVs have made this category extremely popular. Hyundai has established itself successfully in the up to the Rs 15 lakh price category, a segment where most other low-cost car manufacturers have not been able to prove their mettle. People rate the Korean brand highly for quality, durability and premium appeal — and are ready to pay a fair premium for its products.

Hyundai has localised the Creta to keep costs low, and, while we cannot expect it to beat the attractively priced (though smaller) Ecosport on the price front, it is expected to take the Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano and the Mahindra XUV500 head-on.

Drive impressions
The Hyundai Creta is being offered with a choice of one petrol and two diesel engines, with each engine variant getting four trim levels — Base, S, SX and SX (O). Petrol power will be provided by a 1.6-litre Dual VTVT engine. Diesel power comes in the form of a 1.4-litre CRDi and 1.6-litre CRDi VGT engines. The engines are said to have been tuned for high fuel efficiency, though no fuel efficiency figures have been revealed yet.

The 1.6-litre CRDi diesel, apart from a six-speed manual transmission, also gets a six-speed automatic gearbox — a segment-first for a diesel engine. The 1.6-litre Gamma Dual VTVT petrol produces 123 PS, while the 1.6 CRDi dishes out 128 PS of peak power. The power output of the 1.4 CRDi Diesel has not been officially specified, though it produces 90 PS on the Elite i20 hatchback, and is expected to be more or less the same.

While in the driver’s seat, you realise that the dashboard is high-set, and the feel very car-like. The height adjustable steering wheel is leather wrapped, feels nice and soft to hold and has mounted controls on top variants.

During the brief drive, the 1.6-litre diesel seems to have a mild turbo lag. Even while featuring a variable geometry turbine, the engine spools up fully only at 2,000 rpm. Having said that, the car drove reasonably well in low revs and there wasn’t any noticeable gasping or spluttering. The gear shifts on the six-speed manual transmission are smooth.

The automatic transmission on the Creta is quite snappy, too, and shifts with an alacrity hitherto unseen in other similar auto boxes from Hyundai. Attempts to confuse it by modulating the throttle were responded to pretty well.

We cannot have a conclusive opinion on the gearbox based on such a short test, though initial impressions are very good. The turbo lag, which was quite noticeable in the manual version, wasn’t apparent in the auto variant where the electronic brain did the cog swapping for us in a rather deft manner.

The 1.6-litre diesel engine, in its AT trim goes all the way up to 4300 rpm at full throttle before up-shifting. In the six-speed manual version, however, the engine is redlined at 4,800 rpm, and revs all the way up to 5,000 rpm. The engine gets slightly noisy after 3,000 rpm, though it still remains smooth and none of this noise translates into any irritating drone inside the cabin.

On the move, body roll is noticeable but not to a level where it turns into a bother, though the Creta definitely rolls more compared to, say, the Duster or the Ecosport. Ride is supple though, and should be rated as one of the highpoints of the Creta. The vehicle we drove was riding on large 17-inch wheels with low profile tyres — the versions with 16-inch wheels will possibly have a softer and more pronounced body roll.

Braking is taken care of by disc brakes up front and drums at the rear. The car scores high in terms of safety with its much drummed-up HIVE body structure, up to six airbags, ABS, electronic stability control and Hill Assist functions.

Cabin comfort
The front seats on the Creta are nice and well scooped out. They would fit a slim to medium build person snugly with nice lateral support. Those seats, however, might turn out to be a tad small for people with a larger build. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, though it doesn’t feature lumbar support. Power window buttons are well finished and have an auto function for the driver side window.

Featuring a double din LCD multimedia touch screen (about 5 inches) the central console on the Creta looks feature-rich. The resolution is good and the screen is responsive to touch. The audio, as always, is good too. For the top SX (O) variant, the Creta comes loaded with features such as a sat-nav system, rear view camera, push button start and static bending headlights. The instruments panel features a trip computer with details like distance to dry, average efficiency and other important data. Sockets below the centre console include USB/Aux — in and a 12V power socket. The shark fin antenna on the Creta aids reception for sat-nav, radio as well as for Bluetooth. ORVMs are power folding and feature mounted turn indicators.

There is no dearth of storage space inside the Creta. The car has space for big bottles on all four doors, along with map pockets, and also features a decent sized glove box. There is also generous storage space under the front armrest. There
is additional small storage ahead of the shifter stick to put your small belongings in.

Fit and finish is quite nice, and overall the interior looks good though it’s not totally devoid of hard plastics. There is some hardness to be felt on the rear door panels and the upper black part of the dashboard. But this isn’t much to complain about.

At the back, the shoulder space is more than adequate to seat two adults in comfort, though fitting in a third occupant would be a bit of a squeeze. Legroom at the backbench is great, though the seats could have done with a bit more thigh support. Rear seat features a centre armrest with integrated cup holders, though it doesn’t have any lid covered storage space. There are also twin A/C vents for the rear seat occupants — no controls for fan speed or temperature here, though.

First opinion
Overall, the Creta comes across as a nicely made car, both, on the inside and out. It is reasonably spacious with a premium looking interior. The engine options on offer are good, that automatic transmission is a revelation of sorts and the car rides well too. So, while we really can’t give our conclusive opinion on the car without knowing the prices, and without driving it for a few hundred kilometres — our first impression is positive. The Creta in the first look appears to be a finely balanced package, made with a sharp focus on the Indian audience.

(With inputs from Arjun Dharve)

Technical specs

Engine: 1.6-litre petrol VTVT / 1.4-litre diesel CRDi / 1.6-litre diesel CRDi
Engine Power: 128 PS / 128 PS / 90 PS (est.)
Engine TORQUE: 155Nm (est.) / 220Nm (est.) / 260Nm (est.)
Fuel efficiency:  NA
Prices: NA

Rivals


Renault Duster
The Duster single-handedly turned Renault’s fortunes around in India, generating manic sales within a short period of time. Armed with full-blown SUV looks, the Duster is available in both, petrol and diesel variants. The 1.6-litre petrol unit delivers 102bhp. The diesel mill is the renowned 1.5-litre K9K unit and is available in two states of tune — 85bhp and 110bhp. The Duster may not be as well-equipped as some of the other cars here, but its ride quality is smashing. With generous cabin space and brutish looks, it has emerged as one a favourite for the Indian compact SUV customer.
Price:  Rs 8.5 – 13.5 lakh

Nissan Terrano
In a bid to grab a share of the compact SUV pie, Nissan built the Terrano. They also launched its Anniversary Edition with some additional features including a head-up display, chrome door handles, side steps and twin racing stripes. The Terrano gets the same power-train as its Duster cousin. Mimicking the design of some hardcore SUVs such as the Pathfinder and Patrol, the Terrano has found favour with fans of Nissan’s SUV heritage.
Price:  Rs 10 – 13 lakh

Mahindra XUV 500
Mahindra & Mahindra recently introduced the 2015 version of their XUV500 SUV. Notable features include electric sunroof, 8-way electrically adjustable front seats and a new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The refreshed exteriors benefit from new static bending projector headlamps with LED light guides. The sides get new 17 inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, while the rear gets a new chrome applique over the registration plate recess. It is powered by a 2.2 liter MHawk diesel engine that outputs 140 bhp and 330 Nm of torque with both front wheel drive and all wheel drive options available.
Price: Rs 11 – 16 lakh

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