Creta con­fi­dent of sales

ALWYN VILJOEN drove Hyundai’s new mid-size SUV all night — and found there is a lot to like

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

A DAY and a night spent driv­ing in Hyundai’s new Creta have turned me from firm ad­mirer to a big fan of the Korean brand.

I have ad­mired the brand ever since the lit­tle turbo diesel Getz klapped all the other small hatches we tested in the mid-2000s. A small hatch that can fit in four beefy blokes and get over 20 km to a litre of diesel still gets my vote. Then there was the Sonata, as smooth a drive at le­gal speeds as you can wish for.

I’ve also bought Hyundai’s even smaller hatch, the mid­get Atos, and with the help of me­chanic Jens Denk turned it into the world’s fastest (and yeah, only) hy­brid AWD Atos.

Nei­ther the Getz nor Sonata, and es­pe­cially not my mu­ti­lated Atos, pre­pared me for the com­fort in the Creta.

Five high­lights worth not­ing

My main claim to fame as a car com­parer is a cracked coc­cyx, which makes me a su­per-sen­si­tive tester of rel­a­tive seat com­fort. Hav­ing spent 25 hours in the new Creta’s seat, I can vouch, this is one comfy seat.

The er­gonomic lay­out also meant that our very pe­tite fe­male tester at Wheels, Shay Ka­lik, eas­ily reached the ped­als with­out bump­ing her knees against the steer­ing wheel con­sole, as of­ten hap­pens with shorter women.

There are four more high­lights, start­ing with the brakes, which can stop the 1 760 kg Creta in a short 20 me­tres from 60 km/h — for just af­ter you sud­denly dis­cover there is no stop sign nor road mark­ings on the steep down­hill lead­ing into a town’s busy cross­ing.

The Creta comes with a choice of two en­gines — a diesel and a petrol — both 1,6 litres. The diesel con­sump­tion was im­pres­sive.

In the denser air at the coast in and around Cape Town, I got 6,7 litres per 100 km. Try as I might, I could not get this past 6,1 on an open road driv­ing at about 800 me­tres above sea level, which re­minds one this is a ute with a high pro­file. Once I climbed to over a kilome­tre above sea level, the thin­ner air saw the con­sump­tion fall to 5,9 while do­ing a steady 110 km/h with four peo­ple in­side.

The fourth high­light is the ride height — at 19 cm high, this mid­size ute was made for In­dia’s ap­palling roads, where it saw best sales of 10 000 units a month since it was in­tro­duced last year, This road clear­ance means the 16-inch rims with 205/65 tyres hardly no­tice the ruts on even bad dirt roads, but there is a full-size spare wheel in the boot for when a pot­hole proves too sharp. At Wheels we have learnt the hard way to say voet­sek to cars with­out full-size spare wheels, and there­fore give full marks to Hyundai for equip­ping cars for our roads. The fifth high­light, for now, is the pric­ing, which in­cludes a fiveyear or 150 000 km war­ranty on “ev­ery­thing that moves”, in the words of Stan­ley An­der­son, sales and op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor of Hyundai Au­to­mo­tive South Africa; a two-year or 50 000 km war­ranty on the pow­er­train; and a five-year or 90 000 km ser­vice plan. Ser­vice in­ter­vals are 15 000 km on both en­gines.

Now for the nig­gles

The low lights in­clude, iron­i­cally, the high­lights re­flect­ing from the cen­tral con­sole. No mat­ter how high or low I put the seat, the re­flected sun light from the rear win­dow casts a glare over half the screen, mak­ing the out-of­date GPS map hard to read. A shade sock over the rear win­dow will cut the glare on the screen, but I rec­om­mend stick­ing with Google Maps to guide you.

Un­der­neath the in­fo­tain­ment screen are two 12V sock­ets and a plug for an AUX ca­ble, but only one USB port. A sec­ond USB port, prefer­ably aft, would be most use­ful. I also missed a cruise con­trol on the long road and, af­ter wash­ing the car twice, no­ticed it has many cran­nies to clean.

But these nig­gles are it, re­ally, and on the price alone I pre­dict Hyundai’s deal­ers will see buy­ers’ in­ter­est in this con­fi­dent Creta meet the high ex­pec­ta­tions An­der­son and his team have of the new car. The only other au­to­matic SUV for less than R400 000 is Mahin­dra’s XUV500, a ro­bust ve­hi­cle we like a lot, but lo­cal buy­ers have to date shunned its dar­ing, crouch­ing-Chee­tah de­sign.

Which Creta to choose?

Let the force guide you. The Creta 1,6 Ex­ec­u­tive man­ual makes 90 kW at 6 300 rpm and 150 Nm at 4 850 rpm, and costs R50 000 less than the Creta 1,6 Ex­ec­u­tive CRDi au­to­matic. The diesel makes 94 kW at 4 000 rpm and 260 Nm from only 2 750 rpm and if you drive at alti­tude, we sug­gest the diesel auto is the SUV for you.

Creta 1,6 prices

Ex­ec­u­tive man­ual R319 900

Ex­ec­u­tive auto R339 900

Ex­ec­u­tive CRDi auto R369 900.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

Hyundai’s new Creta is the only au­to­matic SUV sell­ing for un­der R400 000, of­fer­ing some of the best sup­port­ing seats in the busi­ness (left) and ex­cel­lent over­all value, but we pre­dict these launch prices won’t last long.

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