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Hyundai Creta – Call me baby Santa Fe

Snapshot: The latest entrant into the compact SUV club promises to be the best mix of luxury, features and classy looks.

Hyundai simply does not want to be left behind in any segment here in India. After having managed to grab a good chunk of the hatchback segment and having once dominated the midsize sedan segment the carmaker has its eyes set on the compact SUV segment. The Creta is essentially a Ford EcoSport rival and promises to deliver on styling, cabin comfort as well as practicality.

Exterior

We will stretch out our necks and say that this is the best looking compact SUV in India. The big hexagonal grille upfront with the horizontal slats dominate the front end. Along with the shapely headlamps, they give the car a classy yet authoritative look. The side profile with its raising waistline looks luxurious too. The rear end looks similar to the Elite i20 with its flowing lamps as well as blackened out bumper. The car looks well-proportioned and balanced. At just a little over 4-metres in length the Creta is just the perfect size for the city. Overall, it mimics the looks of the much bigger and much more expensive Santa Fe SUV. This is a triumph for Hyundai’s Fluidic design language, which has helped give Hyundai cars the edge over the last few years over its main rivals.

Interiors

The first thing that I told myself as soon as I entered the cabin was that all other rivals are in trouble. Not only does the Creta offer best in class cabin materials and build quality but it’s also a very practical place to be in. There are plenty of cubby places all around the cabin to keep your odds and ends at. The seats are comfortable and offer excellent cushioning. The real surprise is the loads of legroom available at the back. Even with a tall driver in the front, six-foot passengers should not have any issues getting comfy in the rear seats of the Creta. The car is genuinely wide enough to sit three abreast at the back and the flattish floor board means that finding place to stretch your feet shouldn’t be an issue when you get the middle seat.      

The dials look classy as well. The design of the dashboard is classy and has soft touch materials all around. The grey and beige cabin really feels very premium and makes the Creta an aspirational buy.  

Engine, performance and gearbox

You will get a choice of three engine options to choose from. Two diesels in the form of a 1.4-litre and a 1.6-litre diesel along with a 1.6 dual VTVT petrol. All cars will get a six-speed gearbox. The top-end diesel gets a six-speed auto. We managed to sample only the 1.6-litre diesel in both manual as well as automatic version.

The diesel we sampled develops around 128bhp of power. The highlight of the package is undoubtedly the refinement. The engine starts with the finesse of a petrol motor and even when revved hard remains largely unobtrusive inside the cabin. Power delivery is smooth an linear, and though there is a bit of initial laziness to throttle input like most diesel engines, once you are in the right power band, the Creta simply flies. The brakes are good as well and once you hit the brake pedal this car drops the anchor hard and fast.

The manual gearbox is light, accurate and slick to operate. It’s one of the better units in this segment. The automatic is a delight as well, with seamless shifts and minimal lag when you decide to shift up or down manually.

Ride and handling

This is one area where Hyundai seems to have made massive progress. The Creta handles really well for a SUV. Despite the tall stance and raised ride height, there is minimal body roll. The steering though light enough for town travel offers enough feedback as speeds increase and doesn’t make you feel nervous when doing three digit speeds. The suspension manages to soak in the bumps pretty well too.

Safety and equipment

The top-end versions of the Creta will get six-airbags along with Electronic stability control(ESP) and ABS as standard. Being a Hyundai you can rest assured that you will get all the bells and whistles. So you get a Start/Stop button, keyless entry, automatic climate control as well as Bluetooth and satellite navigation as options.

Summary

If you are in the market for a car which offers the practicality of a hatchback, the road presence of an SUV and the space of a sedan then look no further than the Hyundai Creta. The strong styling and trusted Hyundai brand give it the edge over rivals and also makes it hugely desirable.

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