• Hyundai has refreshed its second-generation compact Creta SUV.
.• Not only does it look better than before, its driving dynamics feel improved too.
• The range has been restructured, and is even more affordable than the 2020 model line-up.
Just when you think Hyundai couldn't make their existing cars look even better, they prove us wrong. Although their styling is more forward-thinking and perhaps even futuristic, Hyundai's Creta has undergone a mega makeover with a comprehensive list of standard features. It's no wonder the Korean automaker's compact SUV remains a popular choice in a rather competitive segment of our local market.
The refreshed Creta comes just a few months after the introduction of the Grand Creta, Hyundai's larger seven-seater version of the model. The compact SUV Creta debuted in South Africa in 2017, and the first-generation model was an instant hit, despite its acquired taste in styling. It then had a minor facelift the following year, followed by a brand-new second-generation model at the end of 2020.
What's impressive is the fact that the new streamlined model range is even more affordable than the line-up brought in previously in 2020.
Already, the new model has boosted sales for Hyundai as more units of the Creta are being sold. July saw 228 new vehicles sold compared to 124 in June based on the monthly Naamsa (National Automobile Association of Manufacturers South Africa) report. However, with customers knowing a new model was en route, it's only natural that numbers dipped before the arrival of the refreshed one.
Hyundai's new range comprises three derivatives with two specification levels: Premium and Executive. Under the bonnet lies a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine mated to either a 6-speed manual gearbox or an automatic Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT).
Driven through the front wheels, the engine delivers 84kW at 6 300r/min and 144Nm at 4 500r/min. There are two injectors per cylinder and applies advanced valve timing, called Middle Position Lock CVVT, to improve efficiency in the engine.
The automaker says the Intelligent Variable Transmission uses a chain belt and pulley system with an increased gear ratio span to keep the engine and gearbox operating at optimum torque levels.
How does it drive?
Hyundai SA's honchos love taking the launch route off-road to showcase just how well their cars can drive on gravel. This time was no different, and the Creta held its own even on the most horrendous potholed road we have encountered in a while. This is South Africa, after all, and potholes are a part of our daily lives on the road, no matter where you might be driving. Even so, dodging the poor road proved how efficiently this car can handle the (literally) beaten track.
The car is easy and comfortable to drive, whether you're cruising along leisurely or gunning the speed limit on the highway. It feels a lot livelier than before, and there seems to be much improvement in its handling and driving dynamics.
The automaker says the McPherson strut front suspension and coupled torsion beam axle (CTBA) for the rear wheels have been tuned to give the Creta an even more solid, surefooted feeling on both road surfaces than before, and they're not kidding. The CTBA offers improved compliance characteristics noticeable when the Creta encounters a mountain pass or a bumpy road.
South Africans drive on more gravel roads than most other markets in the world; if we're not off camping or heading to a rugby field - or live in areas which have not yet been tarred (yes, this is real), the 20cm ground clearance comes in very handy. The good 60-profile tyres also aid this on 17-inch wheels and alloys. On tar, it's feisty and willing to overtake quite quickly.
There are fewer road and wind noises thanks to the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) getting some TLC due to the increased body rigidity along safety-critical structures using industrial-strength adhesives that augment spot welds.
What else should you know?
Firstly, it's being built at a brand-new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Indonesia which only started rolling cars off the line earlier in 2022. The 77.6-hectare factory site is in Kota Deltamas in the Bekasi district, 40km east of the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Apart from the new Creta, the plant will produce the Santa Fe, a new MPV model due later in 2022, and Hyundai's Ioniq 5 electric vehicle.
Gone is the bubble-like curvy front end, which took some getting used to. Instead, there's a handsome front grille and lights design, which now makes it look more similar to other products in the stable - like the new Tucson. The daytime running lights of the Executive derivative are incorporated into the parametric jewel pattern grille. The headlights (halogen for the Premium derivatives and LED for the Executive) sit below the outer edge of the grille.
At the rear, the tailgate has a new design with many sharper lines, and the Creta model name is now in bold chrome letters underneath the logo. It could look a bit busy, but it definitely looks more modernised. There's a new silver inset that runs from the A-pillar to the C-pillar and new 17-inch alloy wheels, with different styling for the Premium and Executive variants, respectively.
The new Creta range is available in the following body colours: Magnetic Silver, Optic White, Titan Grey Metallic, Midnight Black Pearl, Dragon Red Pearl, and Galaxy Blue.
Inside, less is more. The cabin is spacious, even for rear passengers. Seat trims are available in black cloth for the Premium derivative and black artificial leather for the Executive version. Hyundai and their sister company Kia have taken big steps to improve their build quality over the years, and it shows once again inside the Creta. There are a few cheap plastics you can't overlook, but everything else makes up for it, like the new ergonomic gear lever and other nice-to-touch materials and equipment controls.
There's a multifunction steering wheel with remote control buttons for the infotainment system, trip computer and cruise control, and a wireless charging pad (in the Executive derivatives).
Furthermore, the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity of the infotainment system with its 8-inch touch screen enables the driver or passengers to select several functions through voice commands.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto link wirelessly to your smartphone in the new Creta, and the Executive version offers wireless phone charging as standard equipment.
Apart from the infotainment USB connection in the centre console, the Creta also caters for the rear passengers with an extra 12V power socket, a USB charging socket, and storage place in a useful console. This storage compartment also contains rear air vents for the manual air conditioner.
Steering is quite direct so operating this compact SUV in town and in tight parking spaces is easy with the rear park assist sensors and camera. It displays its view on the infotainment system's screen. The gear lever has now been replaced with an electronic one to free up more space in the front.
In terms of safety, Hyundai has not skimped on this front. There are front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger and two curtain airbags. However, side and curtain airbags are not included in the Premium derivative.
There are Isofix child seat attachments on the outer rear seats and 3-point inertia reel safety belts with pre-tensioners for the front seats. The outer rear seats also have 3-point inertia reel safety belts.
Other standard features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a tyre pressure monitoring system, and Hill-start Assist Control.
The Creta goes up against a vast line-up of rivals in an oversaturated segment, but its most direct competitors in terms of power figures are the Volkswagen T-Cross and the Toyota C-HR. Both are good cars by comparison, but you get way more bang for your buck in the Creta, and it sets you apart from the thousands of other models on the road.
Creta 1.5 Premium MT - R409 900
Creta 1.5 Premium IVT - R429 900
Creta 1.5 Executive IVT - R469 900
All Cretas are sold with a 7-year or 200 000km manufacturer's warranty; a 4-year or 60 000km service plan; and roadside assistance for 7 years or 150 000km.