Hyundai calls it “the perfect SUV”. A Skoda Yeti driver labels it “a pseudo SUV”. A Mahindra Scorpio owner goes on to say “a small SUV”. The man in a Renault Duster refuses to comment. A lone Ford EcoSport driver perhaps thinks, “Do I really fit in?”
We are at Lonavala, near Pune, driving the oddly-named but nice-looking Creta. The first compact SUV from Hyundai, the Creta has generated enough buzz in the market. The audience we get at every corner of the road justifies the buzz. But does this compact SUV deserve that much adulation?
Hyundai seems to have cunningly mastered all available car design courses in the world. Almost every car coming out of its Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy seems like a work of art. The Creta looks like a mini Santa Fe. It has a raised stance, smoothly creased hood lines and a voluminous bumper. The imposing triple slat hexagonal chrome grille is reminiscent of the wings of a glider. No, it doesn’t get LED daytime running lights. At the rear, the Creta gets the shark fin antenna—a segment unique feature—which along with integrated spoiler makes it look sporty. Further there are split-type tail-lamps and silver-coloured front and rear skid plates, which add a sense of ruggedness—much-needed for an SUV in India today. The top-end variants get rear defogger and wiper/washer. Depending on the variant, you either get 16-inch or 17-inch wheels. The Creta is not as mammoth as the Scorpio and not as hatchback-ish as the EcoSport. Its road presence is more like the Duster’s or the Terrano’s.
Also read: Hyundai Creta vs Maruti Suzuki S-Cross
Open any door and you will notice scuff plates—these not only look good but also protect the sill area during the entry and exit of passengers. The cabin is tastefully designed. There is an almost unending list of gizmos and features. Even the entry-level models get abundant wares. The attention to detail is impressive, as is the plastic quality. The driver’s seat is a nice place to be. The supervision cluster displays comprehensive vehicle information such as steering position reminder, parking sensor display, control lights and more. The top-end variants get the Full Automatic Temperature Control (FATC), which automatically maintains the desired cabin temperature and even comes with something called a mood change bar. There are ample cubbyholes in the cabin—a storage box in front console armrest, a floor console for storing small items, rear door map pockets for storing newspaper and books, cup holders in rear seat armrest, the rear package tray, seat back pockets, etc. However, the cabin is not as spacious as the Duster’s, especially at the rear. The rear seats lack thigh support, too. The boot space also is not class-leading. But its cabin is so well-appointed that it will always make you feel at home.
The Creta gets three engine options:
* The 1.4-litre CRDi diesel which generates a peak power of 90 PS and a peak torque of 220.6 Nm. Its claimed fuel-efficiency is 21.38 kmpl.
* The 1.6-litre VGT CRDi diesel which generates a power of 128 PS and a torque of 260 Nm. Its claimed fuel-efficiency is 19.67 kmpl.
* The 1.6-litre dual VTVT petrol which generates a power of 123 PS and a torque of 151 Nm. Its claimed fuel-efficiency is 15.29 kmpl.
On the road
The Creta has an aerodynamic body and Hyundai claims its drag coefficient (0.36) is the best in class. What it means is that its sloping roof profile minimises air flow resistance for improved fuel economy and driving stability. It handles far better than most Hyundai cars and almost as well as the Duster. The powerful 128 PS diesel packs a punch and is very good for highway driving. The 90 PS diesel, on the other hand, is slow to pick up but once it crosses 2000rpm, there is no noticeable power lag. The 123 PS petrol isn’t as powerful as 123 horses put together, but is refined. All three engines are very good for city driving conditions. The six-speed automatic is available only in the 128 PS SX+ variant and should find many takers. The automatic has a claimed fuel-efficiency of 17.01 kmpl.
Off the road
Unlike the Duster AWD, it doesn’t get an all-wheel drive option, at least not right now. However, its wide tyres and powerful engines will ensure it can do soft off-roading. In fact, in Lonavala, we took the Creta off the road and were surprised to find it could easily handle flooded roads and slushy terrain. But we don’t recommend taking the Creta off the road.
From Rs 8.6 lakh (entry-level petrol) to Rs 13.6 lakh (top-end diesel), the Creta commands a premium. But the kind of value you are getting for the money, that premium is well worth it. It is definitely ahead of the competition in design, refinement and styling. But what is the competition? The Creta may be a compact SUV, but it will attract buyers from far and wide—from the Duster to the Terrano, from the Scorpio to the EcoSport, even from the City to the Verna.
(Prices are ex-showroom, Delhi)