Every year I resolve not to head out into the traffic from the beginning of December until the middle of January and, every year I fail dismally as there are always last-minute things needed, necessitating sitting in long lines of cars on the road and in shopping centre parking lots.
The sleepy seaside village where I live transforms – even in these Covid times – during the holiday season as up-country visitors flock to the beaches and, so far, this year the weather has played its part with long hot summer days.
Fortunately the Hyundai Creta 1.5-litre Executive I am driving with the variable intelligent (IVT) transmission has an air-conditioning system that copes admirably with the heat, comfortable two-tone seats that make long stretches in the car equally pleasant and a sound system strong enough to blow away any of the shopping traffic blues.
The 1,5-litre MPI petrol engine drives through a 6-speed variable intelligent (IVT) transmission that uses a chain belt and pulley system with an increased gear ratio span and produces 85 kW at 6 300 r/min and 144 Nm maximum torque at 4 500 r/min.
Among other improvements, Hyundai has equipped the new 1,5-litre petrol engine with two injectors per cylinder and applies advanced valve timing, called Middle Position Lock CVVT, to improve efficiency.
The upshot of this is it feels less like a CVT gearbox and more like a conventional auto shifter with, noticeably, none of the whining normally associated with CVT boxes.
In the race for market share, the Creta will bang heads with the likes of the Kia Seltos and Volkswagen T-Roc and, in terms of size, the new Creta is 4 300 m long, 1 790 mm wide and 1 620 mm tall for a 22 mm increase in length, 10 mm in width and a 10 mm decrease in height, plus a 200 mm increase in wheelbase with the 190 mm ground clearance remaining unchanged.
Besides the obvious increases in interior legroom, the luggage capacity increases from 402 litres on the outgoing model to 433 litres for the new version.
The 1,5-litre variants have a grey and black interior trim design with cloth for the Premium and leather on the Executive, while the 1.4 Executive gets black leather trim. Executive models gain a wireless charger, touchscreen infotainments system, multi-functional steering wheel, voice recognition Bluetooth, park assist sensors and a rear park assist camera.
At Premium level, specification upgrades include electronic stability control, hill start assist, reach adjustment for the steering and tyre pressure monitor.
A firm, yet comfortable ride makes a journey in the new Creta enjoyable – both on tar roads and gravel routes. The McPherson strut front suspension and coupled torsion beam axle (CTBA) for the rear wheels have been tuned to give the new Creta a solid, surefooted feeling on both road surfaces.
The CTBA, which includes trailing arms and carriers on which the rear wheels are mounted, offers improved compliance characteristics that are noticeable when the Creta encounters a mountain pass or a bumpy road.
Decreasing levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) has also received attention through increased body rigidity along safety-critical structures with the expanded use of industrial-strength adhesives that augment spot welds.
Revisions to the engine mounts and redesigned intake/exhaust manifolds also played key roles in reducing NVH levels and lowering specifically acceleration noise.
Front and side crash bags for the driver and front passenger and two curtain crash bags that offer protection for rear passengers too are part of the new Creta Executive derivative’s safety package that also includes anti-lock braking.
The build quality is excellent and on none of the roads travelled so far could I detect any untoward squeaks or rattles. Equally, there is minimal cabin intrusion from tyre and road noise, while wind noise is kept to an absolute minimum.
The Creta accelerates smartly off the line and toddles to 100 km/h in 12,2 seconds, emphasising its place in motoring hierarchy as an urban runabout. It has a top speed of 168 km/h and will happily cruise at the legal limit of 120 km/h using around 5,8 l/100 km.
Overall average so far – including the traffic – has pushed this up to 7,3 l/100 km, giving it an effective 700 or so kilometres from a full tank.
It does lose out a little against opposition such as the Fiat 500X 1.4T Cross and Peugeot 2008 1.2 GT-Line in terms of consumption and performance – but it a bigger car than both of those, making it a swings and roundabouts kind of comparison.
On the road, the Creta is very much better behaved than the outgoing model, the larger footprint and changes to the body shape having resulted in a more solidly planted car. This is even more evident on rippled dirt roads where the amount of ‘bounce’ is vastly reduced and it tracks more accurately.
Although there are no paddle shifters, it does have a Sport/Manual mode that gives the extra zest need for safe overtaking or more robust driving when the mood takes.
Handling is on par with what one would expect from this class and it will accept a fair bit of pushing before it starts to show signs of unsettling itself – and that point is really well beyond where the average owner is likely to be playing.
The Creta is an easy car to live with, a sentiment echoed by Mrs W, who was also moved remark when she saw the full width netting in the luggage area: “Finally, someone who understands shoppers.”