The compact SUV segment is booming, it has been for quite some time. Every brand from Mahindra to Audi has a rival in the segment, but for some time Hyundai has neglected demand for such a vehicle. That’s until earlier this year, February to be precise, when the Hyundai Creta was launched to the local marketplace.
The Hyundai Creta isn’t altogether unfamiliar though – those who know their underpinnings will know this platform from various other vehicles, including the Accent, Kia Rio, and importantly the Kia Soul. The latter of those impressed us particularly when we tested it, but can the Hyundai sibling do the same?
The 1.6CRDi Executive Auto derivative on test here is the range-topping model from Hyundai, and the only diesel available in the line-up. Unlike the Soul, there is no manual transmission paired with the diesel engine. The 1.6-litre turbo-diesel motor serves up healthy outputs of 94kW and 260Nm, in this instance driving the front wheels through a 6-speed slush-box auto.
It’s no drag-strip racer, but the diesel torque is enough to get the Hyundai Creta moving at a relatively decent pace – suitable for sudden dashes into gaps in traffic. The automatic gearbox is smooth and well measured in its shifts, but lacks crispness as it slurs from gear to another. As a traffic-crawler though, it’s damn near impossible to fault.
It’s in this scenario the diesel engine is likely to yield another benefit in addition to the torque on offer. Diesel’s are traditionally fairly efficient, and the Hyundai Creta doesn’t exactly defy that notion. Consumption read-outs of 7.4l/100km match conservative claims by Hyundai SA, and although that’s more than appropriate for the segment, when rivals like the Suzuki Vitara can get better figures from a 1.6-litre petrol engine it makes you wonder if diesel really is all it’s cracked up to be.
However, there is another area where the Hyundai Creta excels. It’s ride quality is exemplary, cushioning bumps and ripples in the road surface and ensuring a smooth ride devoid of any interruption. But, this and the extensive cabin insulation creates a divorced feel from the road, magnified by the lack of feel from the electronic power assisted steering.
The Hyundai Creta may share underpinnings with the stylish Kia Soul, but the design team from Hyundai went decidedly staid when penning the Creta’s lines. It’s a fairly boring looking crossover. The interior is likewise quite bland, with two-tone grey leather upholstery, and a grey dash of fairly simplistic design. The materials are soft to the touch where the main points of contact are to be found, but the overall feel is uninspiring.
Thankfully, there are sufficient amounts of features to add some value to the Hyundai Creta’s insides. There’s a touch screen audio system that works fairly well; pairs and connects with Bluetooth devices quickly and easily, and boasts fairly decent sound quality through the cabin’s speakers. It also works with fluidity compared to other Hyundai systems that share the same Microsoft software. The screen also doubles up as a display for the rear-view camera – a standard piece of kit along with rear-park assist – and as the standard navigation interface.
Manual air conditioning is standard, as are satellite steering wheel controls for audio and Bluetooth telephony, but a notable omission is the complete lack of cruise control, which at the Hyundai Creta’s price of R374 900 should be a non-negotiable in this segment.
In the way of cabin space, the boxy dimensions on the Hyundai Creta bode well for interior room. The cabin will comfortably house 5 passengers with more than ample leg and head room, and the cargo space is impressive at 402-litres.
The Hyundai Creta is a late entry into a bustling segment, but it seems to have been offered purely for the sake of having something to offer. It fails to really offer anything unique or massively impressive compared to cheaper rivals in the segment, or even its own sibling from Kia. The Creta is a fairly bland, non-descript entrant to the segment – lacking character but performing a function. The Kia Soul is a better alternative in the same sort of price range, though more character and style can be had for less in the Suzuki Vitara.