In our last month's long-term review report of the Hyundai Creta petrol automatic we spoke about the features and driving mannerisms of the SUV within the city. This month, we let the vehicle stretch its game legs beyond the confines of the city and took it out on a long drive over northern Maharashtra, all the way up to the Madhya Pradesh border.
Firstly, let's talk about the driver and passenger comfort. As explained earlier, the dashboard is set high but you still sit relatively low unlike in traditional SUVs. Despite this, the view of the road ahead is good. The rear windows are not very large and the shoulder line is high too. However, the generous head room in the second row ensures that rear passengers don't feel claustrophobic. We had three average-sized occupants occupying the rear seat, and nobody complained - thanks to the sufficient leg room. A rear AC blower with twin vents circulating the fresh chilled air kept everybody cool as cucumbers.
In terms of features, this SX automatic is generously packed with equipment. The projector headlamps and DRLs give the car a premium character. However, it’s the cornering lights that add more practicality. These corner illuminators get separate halogen units which illuminate with the movement of the steering. This helped extensively while negotiating the Ghats at night. My biggest grouse, however, is the absence of an extensive digital trip computer in the instrument cluster. I wish it could also show details of distance-to-empty and average fuel efficiency.
On the bright side, there's no shortage of storage spaces inside the cabin. We could keep big water bottles in the slots on all four doors with sufficiently large door map pockets as well. There is enough space ahead of the gear-shifter stick, where the USB/Aux-in and a 12V power socket is located. My wallet, parking pass, mobile phone and USB cords easily fitted in there. And even if that doesn't suffice for your needs, there is plenty of space below the front arm rest, enough to accommodate a small water bottle inside. The touch screen music system kept us entertained on our long road trip. We made use of the Bluetooth tethering, USB and radio option quite a bit, but avoided the sat-nav as Google maps are more detailed and friendly to use.
Now, despite five people on board we didn't have to worry about luggage storage for so many people. Baggage of all shapes and sizes are easily contained inside the huge boot space. There is an option for a split seat and once I even folded down the entire rear seat into a flat bed. This allowed me to carry a full-sized bicycle without having to make any adjustments to the 16-inch spare wheel tucked neatly below.
Now let's talk about the engine, ride and the handling. The quiet and refined 122bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine becomes audible only post 3000rpm. It still remains smooth and doesn’t make for any unwanted vibrations or irritating noise inside the cabin. There was not much need to hold the revs high as the car drives reasonably well at low revs. The only time the motor required slight caning was when we needed to build up speeds quickly. Otherwise, if you are a patient driver and are content with its linear power delivery, you won’t complain about the lack of power boost. Sane driving, with revs below the 2,500rpm mark, will also help you get fuel economy figures of up to 12-14kmpl on the highway. I managed to get nearly 600km on a 50-litre full tank, which is remarkable considering that the vehicle was packed with five passengers and a lot of luggage.
The automatic transmission changes gears without much delay. Having said that, manual shifting still gave me way more control and confidence. As a result, overtaking other vehicles quickly was not a difficult task once I depressed the pedal firmly. The steering weighs up nicely at high speeds and doesn’t feel vague even during quick lane changes. However this is where the body roll is perceptible. Otherwise it is well-contained around long and wide corners. The ride is supple and the suspension does an excellent job of absorbing undulations on the highway. The 17-inch large wheels with low profile tyres complement the overall set-up too.
The Creta doesn’t look like a proper off-roader despite the high ground clearance, large wheels, faux skid plates and the height of the vehicle. But these features definitely give the Creta an advantage over regular cars. It felt very capable and reassuring as the big SUV easily traversed the many rough patches, diversions and dug up roads enroute without any hiccup. And all of this was done with minimal jolting to the passengers.
Now that we have extensively used the Creta in the city and on the highways, we are in a good position to point out the pros and cons. And our next long-term review wrap-up report will point out just that. We will tell you all there is to know about the Hyundai Creta petrol automatic before you decide to buy it.