If the Consumer Reports Magazine of the US—known for its unbiased product testing—had an India edition and an ‘Indian Car of the Decade’ award, the Hyundai Creta would likely be the strongest contender. While the SUV-isation of the Indian car market started with the Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster in 2012-13, it was the Creta—and later the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza—that took it to unprecedented levels. The Creta was first launched in July 2015 (Rs 8.6 lakh to Rs 13.6 lakh), and attracted buyers from far and wide—from the Duster to Mahindra Scorpio to the EcoSport. By the end of that calendar year, it had already sold 40,888 units, i.e. more than 8,000 units sales every month. (By way of comparison, in that year, the Duster sold an average 1,500 units per month, the Scorpio did about 5,000 units per month, and the EcoSport about 3,500 units per month.)
However, that was just the beginning. In CY2016 the Creta sold 92,926 units; in CY2017 it did 1,05,484 units; and in CY2018 it touched a peak of 1,20,905 units (i.e. more than 10,000 units every month). The Creta blitz was finally slowed down by the Kia Seltos in CY2019—the year when the Creta sold 99,736 units. (The Vitara Brezza outsold the Creta oftentimes, but then the former is a smaller and more affordable SUV.)
The CY2018 peak was achieved party due to a refreshed model in May of that year, when Hyundai gave it a new grille, projector headlamps, LED DRLs and positioning lamps, new alloy wheels, dual-tone bumpers, skid plates, and split-type tail-lamps. Hyundai engineers also made the engines more fuel-efficient, and the style quotient was enhanced by a wearable key, called the H-Band (also a fitness tracker and it notified incoming phone calls).
The Creta, which is made only in India, is also exported to 78 countries, of which South Africa and Chile are the biggest markets, and till now 1,93,653 units of this SUV have been exported.
One of the reasons for its success was that the Creta was developed on Hyundai’s PB platform—which also underpins the Elite i20 hatchback and the Verna sedan—and so it was very car-like to drive, attracting customers who would’ve otherwise opted for similarly-priced sedans such as the Honda City or Hyundai Verna. On top of that, Indian customers had begun to understand that the SUV shape is more practical as a people carrier—it has comparatively more cabin space, it can be easily personalised, it makes you look stronger, egress and ingress is easier, and it’s almost as fuel-efficient as a sedan.
The all-new Creta
Later this month Hyundai will launch the all-new Creta, whose production is in full swing at the Chennai plant. Its design has been thoroughly updated, it will get new engines and, in keeping with the trend, it will be a ‘connected car’, with more than 50 connectivity features. This technology is called the Advanced Blue Link. Ganesh Mani S, director, Manufacturing, Hyundai Motor India, says the new Creta is a voice-controlled car. “Just by saying ‘Hello Blue Link’ one can open/close sunroof, change cabin temperature, control fan speed or even make phone calls,” he says.
It will have the same petrol and diesel engines as the Seltos (Hyundai and Kia are part of the same group, globally), and four gearbox options—manual, IVT automatic, AT, and 7-speed DCT automatic. While the COVID-19 outbreak has affected supplies of various goods, from electronic gadgets to some automobiles, the production of the new Creta won’t be impacted, adds Mani S. “More than 90% of it is being made in India,” he says.
Can it lead the segment?
If in 2015 the major competitors were the Duster and Maruti Suzuki S-Cross, today it’s a different ball game—with the Seltos, and the upcoming compact SUVs from Volkswagen and Skoda. “The Creta has got a strong case for leading the segment because we have an established brand name, with 4.62 lakh customers in India and 2 lakh in foreign markets,” adds Mani S. “When it was launched in 2015, it disrupted the market. We have reasons to believe it will be a similar success now.”
However, with the Seltos selling close to 15,000 units every month (something even the Creta couldn’t achieve), it’ll be interesting to see which SUV comes out tops.
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