Why would I buy it?
- Feels more than just a seven-seater Creta
- 2.0-litre petrol engine offers strong performance
Why would I avoid it?
- Low speed ride on stiffer side
- Doesn’t feel like a tough SUV
Engine and Gearbox
For those who still prefer a diesel SUV, Hyundai is smartly offering an oil-burner with its 1.5-litre unit producing 113bhp and 250Nm of torque. For others who choose the petrol, there's a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated mill churning out 157bhp and 191Nm of torque. And it’s a good choice as there's no disparity in the fuel prices now. And whatever you choose, all the power is transmitted only to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual, or a six-speed automatic gearbox as with this model that we are testing.
Push the start button and the engine shows off its refinement with a quiet engine note and nice controlled vibrations. Even the excellent NVH levels are apparent as the engine noise doesn't intrude in the cabin unless revved hard. Slot the tastefully designed gear cog in D, start releasing the brake, and the SUV starts moving ahead steadily. Even if you press the accelerator, it won't catch you by surprise as the power build-up is quite linear. It doesn't lurch forward but does start making good progress and without realising you are catching up with traffic and even doing good speeds post 1,500rpm. And with its redline at 6,500rpm, it does have a nice, wide, and usable powerband. Then, apart from good city drivability, it's quite capable out on the highway too. It carries off high speeds giving a feeling that it won't bog down even with a full load. Yes, the Alcazar doesn't give you the thrills, but drive it sanely, and it will do its job without a hiccup.
Credit also goes to the six-speed torque converter gearbox that puts out the power nicely even with varied throttle inputs. More interestingly, passengers won't notice the gears being changed unless taking special note of it. Even with the gas pedal being floored, there are no abrupt changes and shifts happen within a reasonably quick time. It's quite believable for this to have a claimed 0-100kmph sprint time of sub-10 seconds. And, whatever driving mode (Comfort, Eco, Sport) you are in, it never feels jerky even when you put it in manual mode or use the paddle shifters. Comfort is the default mode, which when changed to Sport sharpens up the throttle response, slightly firms up the steering wheel, and lets you hold on to the revs for longer before upshifting. The Eco mode conversely, upshifts earlier in favour of fuel efficiency, which by the way, is rated at 14.2kmpl for this AT trim.
Ride Quality and Handling
Like most SUVs and vehicles, the Alcazar gets McPherson struts with coil spring in the front and a coupled torsion beam axle at the rear. Hyundai has tuned it well and it does a commendable job in ironing out the undulations especially on our road conditions. It does feel slightly on the stiffer side, but dismisses small or large bumps well and without any pronounced thuds. Also, it will clear most obstacles with 200m of ground clearance and 18-inch alloys. That said, it still won't smother the uneven roads like a tough SUV and constant suspension movement can be felt. However, at high speeds this reduces; doesn't feel bouncy and is very stable making it a good highway cruiser.
Even for the handling bit, it’s quite predictable and won't catch you off guard. Apart from a slight play in the centre, its steering is well-weighted and just about three turns lock-to-lock, it’s not really a hassle to use. In fact, it’s light and nice to use while making U-turns or parking. It could have done with a little more feel and it gets evident while pushing it through corners. This is where you can feel the body roll, which is well controlled, and occupants will remain comfortable while taking long bends at high speeds. What's also reassuring are the all-round disc brakes which lend the SUV enough stopping power even during panic braking. The ABS with EBD is well-tuned to even modulate stopping from high speeds and the Apollo rubber does comply with sufficient grip.
Comfort, Convenience and Features
We were expecting the Alcazar to replicate Creta's cabin, which is also the case, but with changes in spades. The most prominent change that adds a sense of premium is the hazel brown-black colour combination with stitching adding to the richness. The huge touchscreen, digital instrument cluster, ambient lighting, new centre console, and a huge panoramic sunroof pump up the luxury quotient inside. Otherwise, the layout and design are the same and it still misses out on any soft-touch materials on the dash.
Now, with an increment in the Alcazar's size as against the Creta, the interior space has also increased with it getting a larger wheelbase. As a result, there's more than adequate space for second-row occupants and has added to the versatility of using this space. It comes in handy especially when making some more space for the third row occupants by sliding the second row ahead. It's good enough to fit in average 5’ 8” height individuals for short trips, otherwise kids would be the only most comfortable ones during a long haul. And behind these slightly reclining seats, even when in use, is 180 litres of boot space. That's a first and class-leading!
The Alcazar is being offered in three trims - Prestige, Platinum, and Signature. Gladly, even the entry-level Prestige trim is packed with loads of equipment. However, this top-of-the-line Signature variant is only available with a six-seat layout. We'd expected the Alcazar to carry over the exhaustive feature list from the Creta and it also gets all of them. Some of the noteworthy ones include a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, Bose music system, ventilated seats, and connected car tech. The latter boasts 60 added features here. Additionally, you'd appreciate Hyundai to add more exclusivity to the Alcazar over the Creta for adding new features like a 360 degree camera, a blind-spot monitor into the virtual cockpit drivers MID, and even an extra wireless charge pad in the second row! Now, call out that I'm nit-picking, but I feel it still could have done with a dual-zone AC.
It goes without saying that the safety suite from the Creta has been replicated with the Alcazar. So, standard safety features include dual airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, ABS with EBD, ESC, hill start assist, rear parking sensors, a rear parking camera, and rear disc brakes. What's more, it gets auto headlamps, LED fog lamps, auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror, rear defogger and wiper, and a tyre pressure monitor as well.
Though the Alcazar has grown in size over the Creta, it doesn't feel an elongated version of it, and has adequate proportions. You might mistake its face with the Creta from a distance, but thanks to the generous use of smoked bronze chrome, you'll be able to differentiate this to be the more premium one. Bigger alloys with a trendy design pattern, longer rear doors, and a more upright rear section distinguish the Alcazar from the Creta. Round at the back, the bold 'ALCAZAR' lettering is just a confirmation to establish the new SUV that gets new LED tail lamps in a more conventional style cluster in place of Creta's debatable styling. The Alcazar indeed looks more mature, premium and rich.
Filling the gap between the Creta and Tucson in Hyundai's line-up here, the Alcazar goes up against other three-row SUV offerings in our market, namely, the MG Hector Plus, Tata Safari, Mahindra XUV500, and even the upcoming Mahindra XUV700. The Alcazar’s ex-showroom prices start at Rs 16.30 lakh, topping off at Rs 19.99 lakh. There's not much to think then as Hyundai has played its cards well by introducing it in six-seater (second-row captain’s seats) and seven-seater (middle-row bench seats) versions. Then, with the option of petrol and diesel engines, both being offered with manual or automatic gearboxes. And, even if the extra features are introduced to the Creta later, the Alcazar still does have the bragging rights of having some exclusive features over its five-seater sibling now. This smart move will help in bringing success to their new SUV, which betters everything that the Creta is and has. This also means it’s not a hard task for Hyundai to lure in new buyers or even retain their customers by convincing Creta owners to upgrade to the Alcazar!
Pictures by Kapil Angane