Conservative face of the past is no more.
Aside from what has been accepted has the traditional SUV blueprint; a unibody or body-on-frame ‘off-roader’ with seating for five or seven with or without all-wheel-drive, the recent trend has been the creating or filling-in of niches that previously didn’t exists in order to satisfy buyers. Like nearly every manufacturer, Hyundai’s current line-up is no exception.
Stretching from the Venue to the Santa Fe, and from next year, the massive Palisade, the South Korean automaker has offerings in almost every section or sub-section of the market, with its latest entry being the second rendition of what has quickly become a South African favourite.
First shown in its home market of India in February, the all-new Creta departs from the conservatively designed first generation that sold 14 811 units over three years, to a radically redesigned second take not only inspired by the Venue and Palisade, but also the GV80 made by Hyundai’s upscale Genesis division.
Once again positioned between the Kona and the outgoing Tucson, the Creta’s bold and dramatic looks, which involves an evolution of the split headlight design and corporate Cascading grille, commanded more than a few second looks at the local media launch last week, with the attention spilling over to motorists once the cavalcade hit the route.
The same applies to the rear where the mentioned GV80 traits are most common in the rounded design of the bootlid, whilst the LED light clusters feature their own take on the split design that would’ve have attracted the sci-fi description many years ago, a trait you wouldn’t have mentioned in the same breath as Hyundai. On top of this, the range topping Executive features a two-tone paint option combining Polar White or Lava Orange hues with a Phantom Black roof.
Riding on the same platform as the Kia Seltos, the Creta backs its polarising looks up with dimensions of 4 300 mm in overall length, a wheelbase of 2 610 mm, width of 1 790 mm and height of 1 620 mm. Despite the latter dropping by 10 mm compared to the previous model, the overall length and wheelbase have been increased by the 20 mm and the width by 10 mm with the ground clearance remaining at 190 mm.
The visual drama doesn’t extend to the interior though which, while another step-up, proved to be a hit-and-miss. Notwithstanding the red air vent accents, the x-motif faux aluminium spokes at the base of the steering wheel or the clean minimalist design, the choice of materials used came as an unwanted surprise.
Ranging from soft touch to cheap feeling, the route from Germiston to Bronkhorstspruit saw a series of creaking sounds emerge from the centre console, which brought long-term build quality into question. What’s more, the easy-to-use infotainment system with its series of shortcut buttons looked a trifle outdated in the graphics department, while it also felt that some bright work or piano key black accents could have added to the mentioned red detailing.
It was on the move though that the Creta showed its other cheek. Underneath the bonnet, Hyundai has done away with the previous 1.6-litre engines for a choice of three brand-new units; a normally aspirated 1.5 that produces 85kW/144Nm, the 1.5 CRDI turbodiesel from the Seltos that has been tuned to deliver 85kW/250Nm and, also from its sister model, the 1.4 T-GDI that makes 103kW/242Nm.
The only variant provided at the launch, the T-GDI didn’t disappoint and felt eager with a good dollop of low down torque the moment you touch the throttle. Saddled with little lag, the engine is paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox as standard, which proved equally accomplished in being smooth and seamless, but also fast to kick-down. A Sport mode, which holds-on the selected gear, is activated with the gear lever in manual mode, however, the lack of gear shift paddles was missed.
On the other derivatives, the 1.5 comes equipped with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a brand-new CVT dubbed Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), while the sole option for the diesel is a six-speed torque converter automatic. As before all models are front-wheel-drive.
The standout of the Creta though is its ride. Soft but comfortable, it didn’t get spooked by sudden changes in the road surface, while another front that impressed was refinement. Sporting revised engine mounts, a more rigidly designed body, new exhaust system and different moulds for the windscreen, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) were dealt with aplomb as very little road or engine seeped into cabin, while the steering felt on-point for the segment.
As much as Hyundai has done its homework with the new Creta, the lingering ruler-slap on the hands remains the less than perfect interior and built quality concerns. Taken out of consideration as the case sometimes is, the Creta’s achievements are worth boasting about with the levels of equipment being an added bonus. Despite being pricier than before, it still makes for a good package, albeit one that still needs final polishing.
Creta 1.5 Premium – R374 900
Creta 1.5 Executive IVT – R429 900
Creta 1.5 Executive IVT two-tone – R434 900
Creta 1.5 CRDI Executive AT – R469 900
Creta 1.5 CRDI Executive AT two-tone – R474 900
Creta 1.4 T-GDI Executive DCT two-tone – R484 900
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