Tested: 2021 Hyundai Creta 1.5 Executive CVT

This recently launched, second generation of the Hyundai Creta always makes me think of Cars. As in the Disney animated movie series, “Cars”. Why? Because the animators put each automobile’s eyes in the windscreen when plainly – obviously – they should be the headlights!

The reason I mention this is that, in my twisted little mind, most vehicles have a distinct facial appearance with two headlights for eyes, some sort of grill as a nose and a bumper that clearly represents a mouth. Even though some bumpers now look like bottom feeders and radiator grills are taking on Gerard Depardieu proportions…

This new Creta isn’t the only car that gives my facial recognition brain a mild epileptic fit. Same applies to the Nissan Juke, Fiat Multipla and various Ssang-Yongs because they possess more headlights than I require for my human face facsimiles. Which ones are the real eyes… the thin top ones or those dopey fat bottom ones?

At this point I shall stop my silly design comparisons because that’s as far as my troubles with the Creta’s looks go. Other people’s? Oh dear. Oh deary me. At least half the peeps who chatted to me during my few days’ tenure with this dark blue metallic press demonstrator exclaimed some sort of hatred for its styling.

“Butt-ugly”, “K@k-ugly” and other double-barrel uglies were thrown at this new Korean creation with reckless abandon. I certainly wouldn’t go that far, especially because the previous generation Creta was a bit of a… umm, wallflower. It was a plain Jane. So much so that most people (including colleagues) can’t even recall what it looked like.

Hyundai must’ve realised this long ago and cracked the whip in their design department. “Oh yeah? Watch this!” is what they probably replied shortly before penning this, uhh, challenging creation. Again, I like it. There’s not much danger of losing this in a busy parking lot, or your kid getting into the wrong white Japanese 4×4 at school…

Hyundai South Africa’s PR department, whose mails appear to only work one way, eventually sent us this striking blue specimen with high-contrast cream and black interior. Have I mentioned that I liked it? This was to be expected though, as I just recently purchased a metallic blue sports car with a cream and black interior…

Trying not to let my personal tastes get in the way too much, I vowed to give the Creta a thorough look or three on your behalf. The first thing to strike me was the central dashboard’s slightly angled but quite minimalist layout. Hyundai’s media/infotainment system seems better integrated and was simple / large enough to operate easily.

The next items I noticed, besides the delicious slather of cream trim that runs around most of the cabin, were the thin blue LED lighting strips, bright white dials, cream seat piping, bizarre silver inlays in the multi-function steering wheel, diamond-pattern seat quilting, as well as stylised vertical air vents on the far extremes of the dashboard.

By comparison, the old Creta’s interior was an absolute snooze fest.

Any bad bits? Well, I wouldn’t call them terrible, but the upper dashboard trim and various door card panels seemed to be of mediocre quality. It’s the kind of flimsy plastic which has also made a shocking appearance in cheaper Volkswagens lately. And, being a stylish new crossover, it has fairly large rear ¾ blind spots.

Help is at hand though, in the shape of a reverse camera. Other goodies include the usual power this and auto that, Apple thingy and Android bobby, multiple driver aids and airbags, as well as plenty of numbers to impress your friends: 7-year warranty, 17-inch alloys, 190mm ground clearance, 50L tank and 430 to 1,400L of boot volume.

As for driving the new Creta, you best check with your nearest dealer about the various models on offer because this range offers an unprecedented four engine choices between almost as many spec levels! Our test car’s 1.5L in-line 4-cylinder petrol engine promised up to 84kW or 143Nm and 0-100km/h in 12 seconds.

We performed our usual acceleration and brake tests with this vehicle to record a best-out-of-four 0-100km/h time of 10.83 seconds and a once-off full stop from 100 in 3.06 seconds and 42.75 metres. These are all perfectly acceptable values for this class of vehicle but there is one more thing I need to mention…

To bring us neatly back to my initial ramblings about this car’s looks and how some people immediately hated it, the same could apply to this model’s gearbox. Hyundai did their best to disguise its wicked ways by programming simulated gear changes into all proceedings but there’s no denying that this is [ insert horror violin jabs here ] a CVT.

The good news is that – no matter what I tried – this car never emitted that dreaded, constant-redline, CVT scream. This transmission really has been sat down and given a stern talking to by its makers, hence it will always pretend to change gears; even on full throttle. Sometimes it hangs a bit in the mid-range, but never long enough to get annoying.

In summary, the Hyundai Creta has been turned from a grey librarian to a lime luminescent raver. Not everyone will appreciate this metamorphosis but those who do will find plenty of models with a decent value proposition, comfy ride, good spec level, great warranty, and enough space for most families.

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