Sunday drive with Hormazd Sorabjee: A look at the Hyundai Creta

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Our way of life has changed suddenly and dramatically. Order has been savagely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the last few months have seen a string of unimaginable ‘firsts.’ Who would have thought that in April not a single car would be sold? That’s a first the industry would like to forget but will always remember. And for the first time in recent memory, there’s a car at the top of the sales charts that’s not a Maruti. The Hyundai Creta emerged as the best-selling car in May 2020 in a major reshuffle of the top order. The truth is that with so much uncertainty, the Creta’s achievement is a bit of a fluke, but its climb to the top of the ladder isn’t entirely without merit.

Since it was first launched in 2015, the Creta has been the top dog in the SUV segment and it’s a success story that prompted almost every other manufacturer to come out with a rival. That the Creta could fend off competition for most of its lifecycle is a tribute to the fundamental concept of this well-conceived SUV. It’s not too big and not too small, it comes with a wide range of engines, gearboxes, and it packs in all the features you could possibly want. In fact, for most Indian families, this all the SUV you want. However, the Creta has been under attack from the Kia Seltos. Hyundai’s sister brand (and biggest rival) merely took the Creta template and refined it to a different level. But in the game of leap frog manufacturers play by replacing a model every five to six years, Hyundai is ready to hit back with the all-new, next-gen Creta. So can it win back the SUV crown?

The interiors have Bose audio system and the 10.25-inch screen, which sits flush with the dashboard looks great

The interiors have Bose audio system and the 10.25-inch screen, which sits flush with the dashboard looks great

Designs on you

The job is a lot tougher this time. It’s up against some strong rivals now, which means it has to stand out from the pack even more. And stand out it does but not necessarily in the best way. The new Creta looks radically different and may not be to everyone’s tastes.

But if you can get past the quirky styling, what you’ll find is an exceptionally well-packaged SUV that has everything thrown into it. Hyundai is taking no chances and doesn’t want to fall short on any front. The exterior is richly detailed with 17-inch diamond cut alloys, LED lights, and lots of chrome garnishing.

The interiors have everything from cooled seats to wireless phone charging, an air purifier, a tremendous-sounding Bose audio system, a massive panoramic sunroof and a lot more.

The 10.25-inch screen, which sits flush with the dashboard looks great and is packed with all the features you need and even some you don’t. Like remotely starting the car via an app on your phone.

Hyundai has focused a bit more on the rear seat this time. There’s a bit more legroom than in the previous car, but width is significantly greater, so a third passenger would be more comfortable.

Cruise away

You can choose from five engine and gearbox combinations and it’s the top-of-the-line 140hp 1.4 turbo-petrol mated to a twin-clutch or DCT gearbox that I’m driving. Hyundai hasn’t quite mastered DCT tech the way Volkswagen has and at slow speeds, there’s a hint of jerkiness and the gearshifts are not as seamless as I would have liked.

The new Creta looks radically different and may not be to everyone’s tastes

However, it’s smoother than the Seltos (which uses the same gearbox) and further trumps its Korean counterpart by offering paddle shifters – a first in class. The engine is pretty refined and the turbo dishes out enough grunt to make driving a real pleasure. The Creta is quick, a good cruiser and enjoyable to drive, especially in ‘Sport’ mode. The suspension is on the softer side, which is good for comfort, but it makes the 1.2 tonne Cretafeel roly-poly through corners.

What Hyundai has cleverly done is play to the Creta’s strengths of practicality, comfort and class-leading equipment, but the clincher is the aggressive pricing ( Rs 16-17 lakh).

The King is back!

Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India

Sunday Drive appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, June 14, 2020

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