REVIEW | 2021 Hyundai Creta ticks most holiday car boxes

The new Hyundai Creta has polarising styling but we think it's s a big improvement on the old model. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The new Hyundai Creta has polarising styling but we think it's s a big improvement on the old model. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

I can’t say I’ve been waiting to revisit that quaint little town of Clarens in a crossover because of the racer’s heart beating inside my chest.

Some of the best driving roads in this country are found there. Previously I’ve attacked the twisty roads inside the Golden Gate national reserve behind the wheel of a Mazda MX-5, a Porsche Boxster, Subaru BRZ, Toyota 86 and again in a Porsche Cayman but none of these athletes can carry the holiday hopes of a family.

Hyundai’s new Creta was a good getaway car choice then, and I already knew the most efficient and sight-packed route to our rustic Basotho heartland destination would be the N12, and onto the R28 and R57.

Under normal circumstances the cargo area should suffice for the usual daily slog, but 433l of boot space suddenly became insufficient for a self-catering vacation for a family of six all brandishing rectangular aircraft cabin luggage. It was back to the drawing board and soft bags were then used.

The cabin has a quality look and feel, with comfy and supportive pseudo-leather covered seats. The split-foldable rears also tilt backwards for added relaxation. The command centre is configured sensibly and the surrounding plastics feel suitably classy.

Equipment matches that of the segment and includes a 12V port and two charging USBs, front and back to avoid family charging feuds. The interior has that all-important feel-good factor.    

Three engines are on offer: two 1.5l four-potters both with 84kW on tap. The normally aspirated petrol makes 143Nm and the turbo diesel a healthier 243Nm. I bagged the top-tier petrol 1.4T model with 103kW and 242Nm of petrol turbo power which didn’t feel burdened much by the weight it was carrying.

All engines are hooked up to automated transmissions; a CVT for the naturally aspired 1.5; a regular six-speed for the diesel and a seven-speed dual-clutch for the 1.4T. The auto box is fine and hunted through its many cogs to compensate for the extra load on hilly sections. It returned an average 7.3l/100km fuel consumption rate on its 50l tank.

The drive quality is top-drawer comfort while the engine is willing and refined enough, with a surprisingly strong verve for decisive overtaking moves, or chasing after lockdown curfews. It also held on impressively through curves and what I took away from the experience is that Hyundai is getting very good at creating horse and rider harmony whether cruising or in a hot gallop.

The cargo space short-changed us for holiday demands but it’s a practical enough daily family companion. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The cargo space short-changed us for holiday demands but it’s a practical enough daily family companion.  Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

All Creta crossovers are exclusively front-wheel drive but on arrival at our destination an inclined and grassy driveway muddied by a heavy downpour questioned that logic. It took the disengagement of the traction control and slingshot momentum to reach the door. Surely, it can be fashionable as well as a functional AWD mud-plugger, Hyundai?

Delving into its aesthetics, is it one of best-looking crossovers in the market? Its large and flush headlamps with DRLs that mimic horsefly masks are certainly divisive of opinions, but because I’ve already acquired a taste for edgy looking wheels it gets my vote.

If anything Hyundai has dramatically upped its game in all the segments it competes in. The i30N was a riot; the Grand i10 an unexpectedly premium tot and this new Creta has shifted the goalposts far away from its dreary predecessor. It’s going to attract new customers to the brand.

It’s an impressive all-round package but it had one other standout foible. Those daring headlamps are too bright or positioned too high-up. Night-time driving became the proverbial nightmare as it blinded oncoming traffic that signalled its annoyance with constant flashing of headlights. It could have been an isolated problem but it needs to be checked out.

It’s a great car nonetheless, and one that could do with an AWD model.

Interior looks good and doesn’t feel cramped with enough kit to keep a family comfortable and content. Picture: SUPPLIED
Interior looks good and doesn’t feel cramped with enough kit to keep a family comfortable and content.      Picture: SUPPLIED

ENGINE

Type: four-cylinder turbo

Capacity: 1.4l

Power: 103kW

Torque: 242Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: 7-speed DCT

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Front wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 185km/h

0-100km/h: 9.7 sec (as claimed)

Fuel consumption: 7.4l/100km (as claimed), 7.3l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 172g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Stability and traction control, EBD, brake assist, seven airbags, auto on/off xenon lights, high beam assist, daytime driving running lights cruise control, folding exterior mirrors, keyless start, auxiliary input, USB, Bluetooth, rain-sensor wipers, air conditioning, climate control, suede cloth and artificial leather upholstery.

OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Five years/150,000km

Maintenance plan distance: Four years/60,000km

Price: R484,900

Lease*: R10,397 per month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Hyundai Creta 1.4T

WE LIKE:

Refinement, punchy engine, looks

WE DISLIKE:

Lack of AWD, headlight foibles

VERDICT:

 A fine choice in a highly populated segment

MOTOR NEWS star rating

*****Design

****Performance

****Economy

****Ride/handling

****Safety

*****Value For Money

****Overall

Competition

Kia Seltos 1.4T-GDI GT-Line, 103kW/242Nm — R493,995

Haval H2 1.5T Luxury, 105kW/202Nm — R354,900

Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium, 92kW/170Nm — R379,400

Mazda CX-3 2.0 Hikari, 115kW/206Nm — R469,700

Nissan Qashqai 1.2T Midnight Edition, 85kW/165Nm — R485,400

Peugeot 2008 1.2T GT, 96kW/230Nm — R479,900

Volkswagen T-Cross 1.5TSI R-Line, 110kW/250Nm — R449,000

Suzuki Vitara 1.4T GLX, 103kW/220Nm — R406,900


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