The 2016 Indian Car of the Year has been so busy that we’ve only now found time to give it a proper fleet introduction
It’s unusual for us to start a long term report at 9300km, especially when said vehicle made it to our fleet with a little over 1500km on the clock, but that tells you the kind of action the Creta has witnessed ever since it knocked on our garage doors late last September, immediately after Hyundai were done with their first media drives.
Now usually media drives happen in Rajasthan – Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur are firm favourites – but, if we are being honest, it has become terribly boring driving over those same routes. Hyundai took note of our criticisms and organised the Creta media drives in our hometown of Pune, the drive route taking us to the Della adventure resort in Lonavala, except they didn’t bank on the skies opening up for the entire duration of the drives. Driving down the rain-soaked expressway and then up to Aamby Valley for some (rain-soaked) photography was a test hundred times more strenuous than belting down one of Rajasthan’s arrow straight roads, and it showed that Hyundai were hugely confident about their new SUV. Looking back through my notes the one statement that is underlined and italicised is ‘for a manufacturer that started making their own diesel engines barely a decade ago this 1.6 CRDi is mighty impressive’. For the first drive I found myself behind the wheel of a manual Creta and its acceleration impressed me no end, as also the well-controlled turbo lag and excellent refinement. Hyundai have really mastered the diesel engine – both the Creta’s 1.6 and even the Elite i20’s 1.4 are class-leading in performance and refinement while not giving anything away on efficiency.
At Della some of my colleagues complained about the automatic being not as responsive as the manual but when I did get my hands on one late in the evening, I was left in no doubt that the automatic was the pick of the range. Sure the 5-speed auto saps the engine of some power but there is such a healthy spread of torque that unless you’re in a tearing hurry you won’t find it lacking in performance. The auto doesn’t shift as snappily as a twin-clutch gearbox either but by the standards of slush boxes it isn’t far off. Most of all, the convenience of an automatic for the daily commute is just unbeatable and that’s why we put in a request for the auto Creta for a long term test.
And thanks to the drives being held in Pune we managed to grab hold of the automatic diesel Creta before another publication could. Except two weeks later it was off to Ladakh.
As part of the Creta’s launch activities, Hyundai had put together the ‘Great India Drive’ and our SUV was sent off to Leh for the mega drive with all the automotive media. Our allotted route was Leh to Daman, which worked perfectly for us as half a day later we were back at home in Pune. Dipayan who was behind the wheel for the drive, initially had his reservations of taking an automatic diesel car up the high-altitude passes of Ladakh but turned out his fears were misplaced. The motor held its own even when Dipayan’s head started to feel light due to the altitudes and, if anything, the auto box only made the driving that much easier and comfortable.
Another thing that came through rather strongly is the Creta’s handling. If you recall we have always been very critical of the ride and handling of all Hyundai vehicles. The Elite i20 sorted things out to a large extent – which led to us taking it as a recce car for quite a few rallies last season – and the Creta makes another leap forward on the dynamic front. Gone is the soft, wallowy nose; gone is the bottoming out at the rear; gone is the extreme body roll. I’m not saying the Creta handles like the Jetta, our current fleet favourite, but its dynamics and road manners are very well sorted. It can now be driven down an undulating highway without passengers feeling sick and unsettled, and it can be thrown around corners safe in the knowledge that the tyres will find traction and the body will stay relatively planted. Now what Hyundai need to work on is the steering that is still too vague and since it is quite direct, at speed, you need to make constant, minute steering corrections.
Post the Great India Drive the Creta hasn’t had any sort of rest. It went straight in to a test with the Santa Fe for one of our stories. It made multiple trips to our farm on the outskirts of Pune, not to mention multiple runs down to Mumbai. Our friends from Autocar India borrowed it for a comparison test with the XUV automatic. Then our friends from Carwale borrowed it for the same story. It’s only now that I’ve had some time to spend with it on my daily commute.
So what’s the Creta like to live with on a daily basis? I like its balance – little more space than the i20, little smaller than the full-fat Santa Fe. It is the perfect car for a city commute (and yes, I said car – behind the wheel it feels just like that). The ride is great over speedbreakers and broken patches. The Bluetooth pairing is quick and easy while the touchscreen is intuitive in its operation. I just wish that warning disclaimer didn’t have to be dismissed every time you start the car (we are not as litigious as the Americans!). The driving position is very good despite the steering adjusting for only rake. And I’ve always preferred cloth seats in our climes.
What I find weird is that features that you get on a Grand i10 don’t find a place here. The wing mirrors don’t fold when you lock the car. The doors don’t auto lock (which I think is a big safety factor that should be addressed ASAP). No auto headlamps. And, weirdly, you don’t get a distance to empty readout on the trip computer.
All minor niggles that do nothing to take away from what is a brilliant car, truly deserving of the Indian Car of the Year title. In fact, the Creta has been so popular within the extended evo India family that quite a few of our friends and family have bought one. And my dad, who has been on the lookout for a replacement to our Outlander for quite some time now, seems to have finally found what he’s looking for.
Date acquired: November 2015
Duration of test: 3 months
Total mileage: 15,200km
Mileage this month: 4,765km
Overall kmpl: 12.7kmpl
Costs this month: Rs.400 for wheel balancing