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