Hyundai’s latest iteration of the Creta reviewed here in updated guise is something to behold. It looks decidedly modern and, in keeping with both Hyundai’s design language and the current generation of new small SUV/Crossovers, it meets the brief. At the same time though, it is an oddball design depending on the spec, certainly more odd than before, mainly emanating from the grille design and revised headlight treatment. The DRL’s seem to soften the frown but when they’re off, the Creta doesn’t look too pleasant. Yes, looks are objective and all that, but we find it unattractive to say the least. Just from the front. Aft of that hideous face, the Creta is good. The car in question here is the top spec Diesel model and it’s finished with a black roof above a Lava Orange body. The gloss black effect extends down to the C-pillars too and contrasts well with black mirror caps and black cladding surrounding the wheels. The wheels themselves are 17-inch silver alloys running 225/60 profile rubber.
Classed in the small-SUV segment, Creta plays against a lengthy list of competitors including the likes of the Renault Captur, VW T-Cross, Suzuki Vitara Brezza, KIA Seltos, the popular Ford EcoSport and Toyota Urban Cruiser.
A diesel offering in the segment is a good start, though it creeps the price up to almost R500 000 and that seems a high asking price for something that is inherently targeted at buyers looking at value-for-money options. In that regard, I can’t say the Hyundai disappoints, but as you’ll note further on in this review, it is still a fair amount of money.
It starts to make sense the minute you observe the fresh cabin design. It is appealing in every perceivable respect. This Exec grade model is finished in a good looking two-tone faux leather, the colour of which is carried throughout the cabin panels themselves. Yes, the dashboard and door panels are made from a harder plastic material, but somehow it still feels like a quality product.
The dials and multi-function on-board computer have received a cleaner design, too, with silver edges around a black fill circular dial. These in turn contrast perfectly with the two-tone effect and specifically the air-conditioning switches below the 7-inch infotainment screen. Yes, all new Creta models feature old-school air-conditioning as standard across the range – why? We don’t know. What we do know is that the previous Creta did have climate control, but that's a story for another day.
Infotainment has also been revised, now there's a new system that sits completely flush within the dash architecture and fitted with smartphone mirroring too, it’s an easy and convenient part of the experience. The big news on the Exec model is the inclusion of wireless charging in addition to the two USB ports.
There is a healthy list of standard equipment here, but you expect it at this price point and with this car. Some of these are items like cruise control, electric mirror adjustment and reversing camera.
The Hyundai Creta also scores highly in terms of interior headroom and legroom throughout the cabin thanks to a slightly longer wheelbase and a generous roofline. Cargo space is quoted at 433-litres and with a 60/40 split, it gives you further options for carrying capacity.
The biggest criticism of the previous Creta was the poor safety choice of excluding any stability or traction control systems. Thankfully, the new Creta has a more acceptable suite of safety systems including stability control, ABS and EBD as well as 6-airbags.
A 1,5-litre turbocharged diesel engine is employed to do the work here and in a word, it’s absolutely adequate for what this car is. This is a good option in the Creta range, which does include manual and auto options of small capacity diesel and petrol motors. In this segment, choice is good and fuel consumption doesn’t get worrying no matter your choice.
This diesel delivers 84kW at 4,000rpm and 250Nm of torque between 1,500 and 2,750rpm via a 6-speed automatic transmission. You do need to manage your driving style and timing, though, especially with regards to the turbo lag, but once you you’ve done that, this diesel is sufficiently punchy, smooth and relatively silent on the go. The Creta is an excellent point to point car in that it is easy to drive, small enough to be agile and easy to position. Out on the freeway and as the speed piles it does feel somewhat nervous and, of course, into some enthusiastic cornering where the body roll is noticeably excessive but let’s be real, nobody said sports car anywhere on the Hyundai sales brochure.
From a 50-litre tank, we managed 660 km during our test, which is excellent going for what mainly consisted of round trips between Pretoria and Johannesburg, and then urban driving for the most part. Hyundai quotes under 6l/100km but a more realistic figure would be between 6 and 7 as a good median.
The Creta is relatively new in the segment so it doesn’t suffer that ‘a new one is coming’ excuse. It is sold with a 5yr/150 000 warranty and a 4yr/60 000 service plan through a dealer network that is 100-strong. These are all good things but as a buyer, you have a massive list of competitors from which to choose and unsurprisingly, the Hyundai doesn’t stand out head and shoulders above the rest in any specific area.
This is a tough segment that is less swayed by badge appeal than the premium segments. Buyers choose based on perceived value and in this respect, I can’t fault the Hyundai Creta. It is an authentic contender in the segment with a really good value proposition in its specifications, its turbo diesel engine and its unique design traits, particularly on the interior.
Can you live with that face? If you can, then there’s a good car in this Creta if that price is palatable. When you consider some competitors, you may think otherwise, which is why I would close this review by starting within the same range. If you like the Creta, why not choose a cheaper one. This two-tone diesel thing isn’t a game changer.