First things first – the Hyundai Alcazar is not just a stretched Creta. With that out of the way let’s dive into finding out what the Hyundai Alcazar is all about and what are is hits & misses. Almost every carmaker in India today is busy making SUVs because most of you want one. Hence, new segments and sub-segments are being explored by all vehicle makers in India but one company that has managed to really understand the requirements of people wanting faux SUVs (because most new cars on stilts are not real SUVs) is Hyundai. With the success of the Venue and Creta combined with the presence of Tucson and Kona, the company is now the largest seller of SUVs in the country so it makes perfect sense to strengthen its stronghold further. This is where the Hyundai Alcazar comes into the picture and we have already tested it to try and understand whether Hyundai’s foray into the 6/7 seat SUV segment can be another success story or not as the competition is strong in the form of the Tata Safari, MG Hector Plus, and the upcoming Mahindra XUV700.
Dimensionally, the Alcazar is significantly larger than the Creta and looks so as well. At 200mm longer, 40mm taller, and with a 150mm longer wheelbase and 10mm higher ground clearance, the Alcazar comes across as a mid-sized SUV at first sight.
Upfront, the headlamps are similar but that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. The grille now bears a new pattern with chrome studs that do a good job of accentuating the SUV’s width. The skid plate, front bumper, and fog lamp design and garnish is new but more importantly, it all looks good despite so much chrome because unlike the silver-ish chrome usually found in cheap Chinese accessories the dark shade used here looks tasteful.
On the side, it’s not just the larger 18-inch wheels that are new but even the front and rear door panels are new to accommodate the increased length. New rear fenders along with blacked-out A, B, and C-pillars do a great job of giving the Alcazar a dynamic and tall stance. My personal favourite though is the rear as it looks entirely different from that of the Creta, mainly due to the new tail lamps. Even the bumper, skidplate, spoiler and reflectors are new giving the Alcazar a fresh and premium look.
While design is a subjective thing, this is an area where the Hyundai Alcazar beats all its present rivals by a long distance. The Hyundai Alcazar is the most feature-loaded SUV in its segment and that too by a big margin. Step inside and you’ll quickly realise the smart work deployed by the designers. The dash is not radically different from the Creta but the inclusion of the new Brown-ish shade elevates the vibe of the cabin significantly. The 10.25-inch screen with Bluelink connectivity now features some new features over the Creta in the form of a welcome message, voice-enabled driver-side window and sunroof operation, location information and phone number readout from your contact list. Everything from earlier has been carried forward so one can still carry out remote engine start/ stop, pre-cool the cabin, geo-fence, get call-centre assistance, etc from a smartphone or a smartwatch. With the fluid operation of the screen and the easy user interface, this clearly is the best infotainment system in the segment.
The feature list just goes on and on in the Alcazar with wireless charging not only in the 1st row but in the 2nd as well. There’s a huge panoramic sunroof, electrically-operated driver seat, front-ventilated seats, 64-colour ambient lighting system, blind-view monitor system, 360-degree display, and a lot more for the first row. In order to understand how these features work and how they prove helpful, please watch the video and the performance section in particular.
Our test vehicles were 6-seat versions so it was equipped with captain seats in the middle-row but one can opt for seven-seat versions as well. The captain seats in the Alcazar turned out to be quite impressive with good cushioning, side support and reclining and sliding function. The only area of improvement for me here is that the under-thigh support was fine for me at 5 feet 8 inches but it could be a bit inadequate for taller occupants. That said, owing to the longer wheelbase the legroom and knee room turned out to be more than adequate for tall occupants as well. Middle-row passengers also get an armrest with decent storage space while the rear AC vents, USB outlet, and adequately-sized door pockets add to the comfort and convenience of the passengers.
Moving further to the thrid-row is where the real test was for the Alcazar and it ended up with a good score. Good things about the Hyundai Alcazar third-row include a one-touch tip & tumble middle-row seat, freeing up good space for easy ingress/ egress. Once in the seat, there is enough room for kids around five feet tall but adults might not find themselves happy in this seat for more than an hour or so at a stretch. With a low seat height and high floor, the usual issue of little under-thigh support can be found here as well. That said, headroom is plenty, and occupants in this row have AC fan speed control and cup holders and USB sockets on either side.
For those seeking a lifestyle vehicle too, the Alcazar fits the bill well with its flexible seating options and 180 litres of boot space with all three rows up. Hence, as a people mover the Hyundai Alcazar scores well and while it might not have the best third-row among its rivals, it surely has a usable one and considering the convenience and connectivity features, there’s a lot to like about the cabin of the Hyundai Alcazar.
Hyundai has once again done a good job of offering a wide variety of powertrain options to the buyers with a choice between petrol and diesel engine and both sporting a manual and automatic gearbox. The 2.0 Litre Nu PL petrol engine is a new engine with 159 ps while the diesel engine is the U2 1.5 Litre one from Creta, albeit with some changes to the tuning and engine calibration. Now let me address the question that many of you have been asking in the last few days – is the Hyundai Alcazar underpowered with the Creta engine? The simple answer to that is no! The tuning might not have changed the power output but that is not the key point here. The main point is about available performance on the road and that is where Hyundai engineers have done a good job. More importantly, while 115 ps might appear quite low against the likes of 170 ps in the segment, the Alcazar is lighter than some of its rivals by about 400 kg! In the crucial power-to-weight ratio terms then the Hyundai Alcazar is at par with the rivals and so is its on-road performance.
Off the line, there’s almost no lag and the acceleration is linear and gentle with the speedo easily approaching 120 kmph. Yes, you won’t be shoved back in the seat but you won’t be left looking at oncoming headlamps with anxiety on a single-lane road while overtaking as well. With three adults and our camera equipment, the Alcazar diesel didn’t show any signs of strain on the highway but it remains to be seen what impact will a full load have on the performance and that is something we’ll find out soon.
The petrol motor, on the other hand, has a little bit of lag initially but once you get past 1,800 rpm things get better. Again acceleration is linear but it feels slightly quicker than the diesel version. The other good thing is the six-speed automatic transmission, which works like a charm and doesn’t show any hesitation in going up or down the ratios as per the requirements. Even in the diesel version the AT gearbox works flawlessly and helps offer more usable performance in everyday conditions.
In a nutshell, Hyundai Alcazar offers adequate performance in both fuel versions and that’s exactly what a buyer in this segment looks for since a comfortable drive is generally a key requirement for a vehicle aimed at premium people movers.
Despite the larger dimensions of the Hyundai Alcazar, it drives and handles impressively. In a straight line, stability is great and the SUV displayed good highway manners at 120 kmph. With disc brakes on all four wheels, panic stops are quick and reassuring. Around corners also the Alcazar fares well but there is some body-roll and as long as you can live with that and drive the vehicle in a sane manner the Alcazar can go quickly through corners as well.
More importantly, the suspension does a great job of absorbing a lot of movement caused due to surface undulations. At low speed, the suspension works well and the vehicle doesn’t bounce over speed breakers, translating into a comfortable drive for the occupants. Even as velocity builds the ride quality continues to impress and the Alcazar truly proved capable of moving people in good comfort. What really caught my attention is that the suspension was very silent over potholes and there was lesser vertical movement in the cabin compared to its rivals. All this results in a soothing and comfortable drive that one would expect from a premium vehicle.
So the Hyundai Alcazar is definitely an impressive vehicle, especially due to its smart and customer-focussed packaging. Even the base variant is not exactly base as it’s pretty decked up so the approach is clearly to position the Alcazar as a premium family vehicle. Hence, not having a low-cost variant for the taxi segment makes sense.
With good space, segment-best features, impressive design, good performance and brilliant connectivity, the Hyundai Alcazar eclipses its rivals in terms of high-tech experience. No other vehicle in the segment presently comes close to the feature list of the Alcazar. Most interestingly though, despite sporting the maximum features, the Alcazar is not the most expensive vehicle in its segment. In fact, the Hyundai Alcazar pricing is so competitive that coupled with its rich features I can easily say that it offers the highest value-for-money in the segment presently. Therefore, the Hyundai Alcazar might not be the perfect 6/7 seat premium SUV in the country right now but it surely is far ahead of its rivals in most areas and should be able to become the top-seller quite easily. Make way for the new King!
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