The Creta. We initially thought that this may be a replacement for the Company’s Tucson compact SUV but the Grecian sounding machine is actually an all new vehicle in the range launched in 2014. It’s about 200m smaller than the Tucson and thus carries out the trend of manufacturers cutting ever slimmer slivers of vehicle type niches.
Hyundai Sri Lanka Kindly offered us a 24 hour drive of their newest compact SUV and we put it through it’s paces, driving through mountainous routes, slippery forest tracks and some rock crawling. Just kidding, we used it as it was meant to be, as a handy urban utility vehicle.
So, how did it fare? Let’s find out.
Peter Schreyer took away Korea’s ugly stick over ten years ago and they seem to be managing even work not directly by him, by evidence of this. The Creta follows the Marque’s “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy” and I must say, works pretty well in the metal. Even in the test car’s off-whitish colour, it’s a pretty handsome and confident looking fellow.
It’s boxy, but with streamlined shapes on peripheries such as the head and tail lamps. The front grill is large and confident and the big driving lamps placed either side of bottom of the bumper add to the visual attractiveness. The profile itself is refreshingly boxy and looks like what an “SUV” should rather than appearing overtly car on stilts like as many crossovers do today. The grey 17” Alloys also add to the good looks.
Maybe it’s not like the new Tucson designed by the hands of Peter Schreyer himself, but in its class, it’s the sophisticated-looking one next to competitors such as the more rough and ready Renault Duster, the unusual looking Suzuki S-Cross and Toyota CH-R, the extremely common now Honda Vezel and the more MPV-like Honda BR-V. Only the Jeep Compass (not here yet) probably looks handsome enough to give it a run in the beauty stakes.
Mech & Tech
Compared to tiny turbocharged engines with high outputs and 6 step CVTs or dual clutch gearboxes these days, the Creta’s drive train is decidedly old school with a 1.6L petrol engine (despite impressive sounding tech such as Dual VVT) mated to a traditional, torque-convertor type six Speed Automatic. Output from the naturally aspirated engine is also a bit low in the context of today’s world with only 123 horses to push around a fairly sizeable mass of small crossover. The power is made at a high 6,400rpm, but it has 151Nm of torque at 4,850rpm.
There’s also an impressive 1.6L CRDI diesel engine with a little more horsepower (about 130), but 260Nm of torque at 2,750rpm which would make the driving experience effortless, but thank our taxation system for why we are deprived of this engine. All variants of the Creta are front-wheel-drive. There’s no four wheel or all wheel drive option for now.
On the plus side, the engine is super smooth, as is the transmission, adding to the immediately easy nature of driving it. The engine also sits very low in bay which is probably good for centre of gravity but we couldn’t locate the air intake, which we hope is set much higher for those Colombo flood days.
Steering is via assisted (electric) rack, and brakes are ventilated disc at the front and drum at the rear.
It’s also quite well put together. Yes, when one says Indian assembled, you used to baulk at it, but this car shows that that story is now old hat. The shut lines are tight both inside and out and materials are pretty hardy and of good quality for the price. The claimed kerb weight is also remarkably light for a crossover at 1,240kg, which should work well for fuel economy.
Performance figures are not easy to come by for the Creta and that’s probably due to the more traditional nature of the engine. You really do need to mash the pedal to the metal to get any sort of gusto going and belies the fairly decent 11.2 seconds required to make it to 100 km/h from rest. It’s sufficient for the daily driver who has to content with the Colombo traffic but the spirited driver would yearn for more power. No doubt the diesel would be more impressive, but taxes…I’m going to stop now.
Let’s move on to ride and handling. The ride gets the first mention here because, Wow, this is one impressive riding machine. The set up sounds fairly conventional with McPherson Strut with Coil Spring up front and but an interesting Coupled Torsion Beam with Coil Springs at the rear. The Creta is one of the smoothest riding vehicles we’ve driven in a while, dispensing with speed bumps silently and with nary a judder, adding to the super easy nature of driving one around.
It handled taking a corner pretty well too with decent body control and solid grip for a fairly high cross over. The handling is on the harmless and safe side, and is not set up for spirited driving, more for comfortable cruising. The tight turning circle was of note too, adding to the ease of use in urban situations. The steering is decently geared, with 2.74 turns lock-to-lock. The brakes also work well, plus they don’t have a lot of mass to pull to a stop due to that impressively low kerbweight.
Living With the Creta
The interior is well styled, modern and fairly minimalistic, dominated by a large centre touch screen and with excellent ergonomics. The graphics on the centre screen are large and legible and the controls are simple and intuitive. The climate control system is also simple and easy to use. The infotainment system has Bluetooth, AUX and USB inputs. Sound is decent from the four speakers and two tweeters.
The steering wheel has phone and volume controls as well as cruise control, but slightly annoyingly no radio/USB skip buttons.
The materials on the dash are fairly hard plastic but don’t look the part and are well textured to look more up market than they feel to the touch. At night time, the interior has a suitable high tech blue glow to everything, in line with Korea’s super high-tech image. A particularly nice touch are the Ironman-like outlines of the USB and Aux input on the lower part of the centre console. Blue has been Hyundai’s colour for interior lighting for a while now and it’s a welcome sight. You also get the obligatory trip computer which shows in addition to odometer information, distance to empty and fuel economy stats.
The interior is very spacious both front and rear and the seats are pretty supportive as well. Seats are manually adjustable, and the rears have three adjustable head-rests too. You get seat-back pockets, an arm rest for the rear seat passengers and many storage spaces about the cabin. Rear passengers get rear AC vents to keep their area cool. The boot is impressively large at 402L (with rear seats up), and it’s good to see a full size spare back there too, which is fast becoming a rarity. Maybe it works in South Korea and other developed countries, but in Sri Lanka, a full-size spare is a must when undertaking that long, outstation trip.
On the safety side the Crete is pretty impressive, with projector headlamps and incorporated LED turn lamps as well as a host of safety gubbins such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and enough multi-directional airbags to make all occupants feel like they’re in a marshmallow if the worst happens. Front, side, curtain…they are all there. Impressive, as we still see some vehicles coming with the minimum of two front airbags only.
Other features include auto speed locking doors (at 15km/h), that auto unlock if an impact is detected, alarm system with immobilizer, escort lighting (headlamps stay on for up to 30 seconds after locking the car to provide a lighted path for you) and two ISOFIX child seat anchors in the rear to name a few.
Fuel Economy & Price
The new duty structure does the Creta no favours as the 1.6L but the agent’s have now priced it at 8.8mn. This makes it a bit of a tough sell as there are some premium-brand crossovers that are available for less (due to their smaller turbocharged engines that are at the 1.0L mark). The Koreans haven’t yet embraced the downsized turbo revolution – their turbocharged engines are still 1.4 and 1.6L upwards. With the most recent taxation revisions, the 1.0L turbo engine cars have really benefited, while the 1.5L and upwards class has suffered. Ditto why the Ioniq hybrid we tested in JanFeb issue was also priced in the 9 million range, and why other hybrids that previously sold like hot cakes such as the Toyota Prius have also had their prices soar.
Fuel economy should be decent, around 7-8km/l in Colombo with double that being achievable if you cruise her on the open roads and highways. Yes, the 1.6L has to be worked hard to get up to speed sometimes, but the 1,240kg kerb weight also helps things. This is where the Creta could smoke lower-engined rivals – I recall a European magazine reporting on long-term tests with early downsized turbo triples and found that they weren’t as fuel efficient on motorways as larger-engined cars – albeit the turbo triples will be much more fuel efficient in the city.
The Creta impressed more than we expected it to. Before spending a day with it, we would have expected it to be another tick-the-boxes crossover, but it’s very likeable due to its remarkable ease of use. It’s intuitive, super smooth and light and easy to drive. Yes, the drivetrain lacks a little oomph, but the excellently comfy suspension makes up for it and calms you down, encouraging you to cruise rather than bruise. It’s also packed with tech, roomy and probably the most handsome crossover in its segment in my eyes.
The Creta actually adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Now if only we could get that diesel engine at a decent price…Tasty!
1.6 4-cyl, dual VVT
123bhp @ 6,400rpm
151Nm @ 4.850rpm
Ventilated disc brakes
0-100km/h in 11.9s
Top speed 180km/h
Kerb Weight: 1,240kg
Boot Space: 402L
Fuel Tank: 55L