TESTED: Hyundai Creta 1.5 diesel is frugal, refined and comfortably sized
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JOHANNESBURG - The first-generation Hyundai Creta took no chances on the design front, but now that conventional and somewhat unexciting blueprint has made way for a far bolder second-generation model.
With its tall two-tier headlights and large ‘cascading’ grille, the new Creta certainly commands attention, although it is a somewhat divisive design. Admittedly I have my reservations about it, but many of the people I spoke to actually liked it, so ultimately its your call…
But is it practical?
Regardless of what you think of the styling, practicality has improved with the redesign. Compared with its predecessor the overall length has grown by 20mm, with all of that going into the wheelbase, while the width has increased by 10mm and the height was reduced by 10mm. These slightly increased dimensions make for an even more spacious cabin, which wasn’t exactly cramped to begin with and overall this is a comfortably sized vehicle - not too big nor too small. Just perfect for the proverbial Goldilocks…
Boot space, meanwhile, has grown from 402 litres to 433 litres, which should meet the needs of most families.
We really liked the cabin design of the new Creta. Although some of the lower dashboard plastics perhaps look a bit too downmarket for a vehicle costing more than 400 grand, the overall design is modern, neat and functional. We’d say the same about the 20.3cm touchscreen infotainment system, which is easy enough to use and boasts clear and crisp graphics. It also incorporates the obligatory Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as well as a reverse camera.
What features come as standard?
While the base version comes in the Premium trim grade, all other derivatives in the range are Executive models.
As for spec, the Premium comes with the aforementioned infotainment system as standard, along with manual air conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors, multi-function steering wheel and 16-inch alloy wheels. On the safety front, however, it skimps on airbags with just driver and passenger inflatables being fitted to this model.
The Executive trim grade upgrades to 17-inch alloys and also gains leather trim for the seats and steering wheel, electrochromatic rearview mirror, wireless phone charging, roof rails and the side and curtain airbags that are missing from the base model.
Interestingly, the Executive doesn’t come with push-button start or automatic climate control, both of which have become the norm in flagship derivatives such as this, but quite frankly I can’t say that I missed either of these features.
What’s it like to drive?
Creta buyers have three engine options to choose from, including a normally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol with 85kW and 250Nm and a 1.4-litre turbopetrol that produces 103kW and 242Nm. However, we got behind the wheel of the 1.5-litre turbodiesel model, and although all three engines have their plus points (with the 1.5 petrol being affordable and the 1.4T offering lively performance), the diesel is quite easily the pick of the bunch.
The oil burner produces 85kW and 250Nm, and it’s paired with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox. Interestingly the 1.4T comes with a dual-clutch transmission, which we’re less inclined to trust from a longevity standpoint.
Anyhow, the 1.5 diesel really delivers the goods. Performance is perhaps more adequate than lively, but it does what you expect it to do and it really doesn’t like making friends with fuel particles. We managed to get the average consumption down to around 5.0 litres per 100km on a short highway run, and the extensive city driving that we did after that did not succeed in pushing the average above 6.6 l/100km.
Overall road manners are quite refined, as we’ve come to expect from modern Hyundai and Kia products. The vehicle is quiet on the open road and the ride quality is decent, although perhaps not the best we’ve experienced in this kind of vehicle. There’s also no faulting the road holding and the steering has a surprisingly positive and direct feel to it.
Value for money?
The 1.5 diesel Executive that we tested retails for R472 900, which undercuts the similarly-specced 1.4T petrol model by R15 000. However, if you’re happy to live with less performance and economy, the 1.5 petrol models will save you quite a bit of money, at R377 900 for the Premium manual model and R432 900 for the Executive with a CVT gearbox.
Although the Creta’s pricing is competitive, it doesn’t necessarily undercut its rivals. A similarly-sized Kia Seltos can be had for between R397 995 and R493 995, while a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross spans from R449 995 to R489 995.
Also keep in mind that for similar money to an upper-range Creta, you can get you into the entry-level version of the larger Toyota Rav4, which starts a R472 900, albeit with spec and engine compromises.
Whether you end up putting a Hyundai Creta in your garage will likely depend on how you feel about the somewhat controversial design. But if it is up your alley, the rest of the package delivers everything you’d expect of it in a refined and comfortably-sized package.