Home / Reviews / First Drive / Hyundai Creta 2024 1.5 Diesel First Drive Review – Mid-size Matters

 

As one of the most popular cars in its highly-competitive segment, the Creta cannot afford to make mistakes, especially considering it is a significant contributor to Hyundai India’s sales charts.

Story: Joshua Varghese

The Hyundai Creta is a name that always crops up among those contemplating a purchase in the mid-size SUV segment. It has been around since 2015 and we were in Jodhpur to drive the latest (i.e third) iteration of this popular car. The biggest changes this time include a new exterior design, new turbo-petrol engine and the addition of Level Two ADAS. The details are as follows.

Like the outgoing model, the styling of this Creta is also polarizing. There are some who consider it easier on the eyes than the previous model and there are others who were disappointed because they were waiting for something that looked like the current generation of the Tucson. I belong to the former and I feel a good chunk of the latter will also rally around soon because it does make a strong impression in person. The front end has been significantly reworked, the stars of the makeover are the DRLs that run the width of the car and the stacked headlights that are placed in the redesigned bumper. There is a fresh grille to match and a muscular bonnet to complete the look. The Creta continues to be offered with 16- or 17-inch wheels (depending on variant) but these have a distinct pattern and that is the only noteworthy change to the profiles of the car. The strong shoulder lines culminate in an angular tail-end that is now dominated by a tail-light that runs the width of the car too. The LED signature is unique and adds an up-market flair to the rear. Overall, the new styling goes well with the muscular stance of the car. I would just like to add that wider tyres may have further helped its cause.

In the cabin, there is a marked difference to the outgoing model. Hyundai have revised the layout with a modern flavour that makes its predecessor look dated. The steering wheel is new — a reasonable four-spoke unit with a flat bottom — and flaunts buttons that grant access to Level Two ADAS features. The biggest change is the flowing console that is integrated into the dashboard. It houses both the 10.25-inch touchscreen and the 10.25-inch driver’s display. The digital instrument cluster is similar to the one we have seen in the Alcazar previously. Yes, the speedometer and tachometer also offer a blind-spot display when the indicators are switched on. Extremely useful when it comes to avoiding contact with miscreants who consider any gap in traffic their birthright. For the first time, Creta also gets dual-zone automatic temperature control and I am pleased to report that the lovely ventilated seats have been retained. As before, the Bose sound system caters to the audiophiles but one also receives a pre-installed Jio Saavn Pro app that comes with a one-year free subscription.

A dual-tone treatment for the cabin further improves its premium appeal. The front row seats are made of leatherette and do a good job of providing support and comfort in equal measure but only the driver’s seat was electrically adjustable. There was no shortage of room either. The same can be said for the second row as well which can seat two people in reasonable comfort and even accommodate a third, if needed. Although there were no ventilated seats back there, they have provided dedicated a-c vents. Plus, those passengers benefit the most from the panoramic sunroof.

Engine options are threefold this time and familiar ones at that. There is a 1.5-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol, a 1.5-litre, turbo-petrol (the most powerful engine Creta has ever had) and a 1.5-litre, turbo-diesel. The diesel engine is offered with a choice of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic and we got to drive both. It develops 116 hp at 4,000 rpm and a peak torque of 250 Nm between 1,500-2,750 rpm.

At a time when most manufacturers are shying away from diesel engines, it is worth applauding Hyundai for keeping them relevant. Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) is one of the greatest tools in their arsenal. Simply put, it is among the most effective ways to treat nitrogen oxides. As for the petrol engines, perhaps, we will bring you a review in the near future.

My drive in the new Creta began from an airport’s parking lot and it was not immediately evident that I was in a diesel car. The cabin was well insulated for an SUV in this segment and it helped that the diesel engine was fairly refined too. At idle and low speeds, the engine did not give itself away and it was only when I exceeded the 2,000-rpm mark that the first signs of its character began to make its presence felt. Even so, it is hardly anything worth complaining about. On the smooth patches of Rajasthan’s highways, there was barely any road noise in the cabin but over poor surfaces, it did get fairly audible.

Between the automatic and manual transmissions, the former would be my choice because it was that much easier and enjoyable to drive. It takes advantage of the torque that comes in early and the shifts are imperceptible, making it easy to drive smoothly and quickly. Furthermore, the paddle-shifters and driving modes allow the car to be both exciting and versatile. Speaking of driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport), their calibration was not significantly different from the outgoing Creta. Although the manual transmission delivered what was expected of it, it was not as fun in comparison. However, it could get the job done and returns a killer fuel-efficiency while at it. The console displayed as high at 19 km/litre for the manual and up to 15 km/litre for the automatic on similar stretches of road.

The ride quality was one of the things that we liked best about the previous Creta and I am glad that has not changed with this one. The suspension set-up remains the same and it continues to soak up bumps without unsettling the car. Despite being a reasonably large SUV, it retains its composure at triple-digit cruising speeds and bolts around corners without upsetting the occupants. Another thing worth appreciating about the Creta is its neutral steering feel. It is slightly on the heavier side and not the richest in terms of feedback but it responds predictably to input and only adds to the ease of driving this car and allows one to enjoy the drive while at it. The presence of disc brakes all around brought peace of mind and their stopping prowess encouraged me to drive more confidently. They are standard safety features as are six airbags and hill-start assist, among others.

As mentioned previously, Level Two ADAS is among the most important additions to the new Creta. It provides a suite of radar- and camera-based assistance systems. Of the lot, I was most grateful for the Blind Spot Collision Warning and Avoidance Assist because it helped me from upsetting a motorcyclist going down the wrong way as I was reversing the car out of a tight parking space. Other useful features include Blind-Spot View Monitor and High Beam Assist. The ones dependent on road markings and radar also work faultlessly in the right environment but I do not believe our current conditions and road users have the infrastructure or discipline respectively to support them. Then there are features like Driver Attention Warning which are just plain annoying. Every once in a while, the car alerts me to children crossing the road when there are none and I was recommended to consider taking a break seven times in a span of 30 km. They were borderline annoying and most certainly need to be ironed out soon.

We drove the top-end SX(O) diesel variants. The manual transmission was priced at Rs 18.74 lakh while the automatic costs Rs 19.99 lakh. These are introductory prices but when paired with Hyundai’s attractive warranty schemes, they make for quite the appealing proposition. The Creta has been the undisputed king of the ring for years now. To the extent that it rings in a sizeable chunk of Hyundai India’s total sales. With the latest iteration, Hyundai have made the Creta a premium offering in its segment without compromising on the things that made it a best-seller. I am not saying the Creta is untouchable but from the current state of affairs in that segment, it is going to be a lot of hard work to topple it from its throne. It is akin to a title-winning boxer who has learned a few new moves and got a makeover over the holidays. A champion’s traits are still there but there are also a few significant improvements.

Also Read: Hyundai Great India Drive 2023 – Seeking God in the Jungle

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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