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REVIEW | 2022 Hyundai Grand Creta has some neat tricks up its sleeve

25 May 2022 - 10:32
Bold frontal styling typical of Hyundai DNA.
Bold frontal styling typical of Hyundai DNA.
Image: Supplied

I was talking to a fellow motoring journalist from another continent the other day. We were discussing the Hyundai brand and both agreed it had been a long time since either of us had encountered a bad product from the stable. Aside from the disappointing two-star rating earned by the Grand i10 in a 2020 round of Global NCAP crash tests, there has been plenty to like from the South Korean manufacturer.    

Its Ioniq 5 electric hatchback, for example, was the subject of international acclaim at the 2022 World Car of the Year. Recently, the brand launched the updated i30 N and new Kona N, solid examples of its competence in the arena of performance machines. The duo followed entrants such as the latest Tucson, a hit in virtually all measures, as well as the radically-styled Staria people-mover.

Then there was the expansion of the Creta range, with a seven-seater offering, which we have just spent a week with. This second-generation of the B-segment sport-utility vehicle was first launched in December 2020. It introduced an expressive new look, complete with lighting signatures that seem to resemble letters from the Hangul alphabet. But more significant was the stride it made in quality and refinement, notable in comparison to its predecessor.    

Extra length makes it look like a junior Santa Fe.
Extra length makes it look like a junior Santa Fe.
Image: Supplied

And that grown-up, more mature feel is even more prominent in this extended-wheelbase version, incorporating a third seating row. In this guise it is dubbed the Grand Creta. With the additional length it echoes the impression of a more compact Santa Fe. Two specification levels are available, with the Executive starting from R449,900 and the high-grade Elite at R559,900.    

Engine choices are between a normally-aspirated 2.0l petrol or a turbocharged-diesel displacing 1.5l, both packing four cylinders. In entry-level trim the 2.0l is had with a six-speed manual; a six-speed automatic is standard on all models above this. Our test unit is the 1.5l oil-burner in flagship Elite specification.    

It rolls on stylish 18-inch wheels, complemented by edgy scuff plates for the lower sections of the front, side and rear. Hardy plastic cladding and dual tailpipes are among the visual highlights. The Creta has a unique aesthetic identity and is not likely to get lost in the average SA parking lot.   

Interior is charming, but infotainment system is outmoded.
Interior is charming, but infotainment system is outmoded.
Image: Supplied

But what you will find even more impressive on that initial interaction, is the interior. Especially if you are not familiar with the latest Hyundai crop. Forget what you remember from products of old: Hyundai brand of 2022 is a totally different animal. From the dual-cockpit fascia design to two-tone hues and above-average plastics, the Creta has a delightful cabin.    

Standard amenities are plentiful. When last did you encounter ventilated seats in this category, for example? Yes, the Creta offers butt-cooling comfort at the flick of a toggle switch on the lower central panel. In the Elite, buyers get leatherette upholstery, an extended sunroof, automatic climate control and classy blue ambient lighting strips. But there are other fantastic details affirming the vehicle was carefully thought-out as a true family companion. The second row benefits from tray tables and the side windows have retractable blinds.    

The driver gets a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, but it looks at odds with the seemingly dated eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. This was the weakest link of the interior, with an outmoded appearance and promised functionality that did not exist. There was no navigation — despite a button advertising so. On the plus side, Apple Car Play and Android Auto are included.    

The frugality of diesel shone through, with indicated returns as low as 5l/100km according to the on-board computer. Its 85kW/250Nm output may not look wonderful on paper, but proved ample in the real world. One of my tests included an airport run with luggage. The diesel Creta trekked along quite happily at the national limit, depositing my occupants in a relaxed fashion.   

Tray tables are a nice touch.
Tray tables are a nice touch.
Image: Supplied

With the third row up, luggage space of 180l is best suited for a light grocery-getting foray at best. You may have to investigate roof-box or trailer set-ups if long-distance journeys, with a full house, are on the agenda.    

On the safety front, all models get anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, ISOFIX anchorage points and front, side and curtain airbags. It was going well for our appraisal of the Creta until we were reminded of the three-star rating earned by the standard model when Global NCAP tested it. In fairness, the model tested — as part of the Safer Cars for India campaign — lacked side and curtain airbags.    

Its position is unique. The Grand Creta is not a price-rival to more utilitarian seven-seaters such as the Honda BR-V, Suzuki Ertiga, Toyota Rumion and Mitsubishi Xpander. In the Hyundai stable it sits under the Kona (from R471,500) while the Tucson starts at R519,900. Of course, for the same price as the Elite tested here, you could get into either one of those or other C-segment SUVs such as the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Tiguan. It depends on how badly you need a third row of seats.

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