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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Oil-burning Hyundai Creta keen to assert its dominance

Attention splitting looks and lots of equipment but does the diesel still hold the aces?

Being different for the sake of being different often tends to bite one where it hurts the most if not careful. In some instances though, it can work the other way with dramatic success.

Hyundai’s reveal of the second generation Creta last year very much aims to toe the latter line. About as far removed from the conservative original that still found favour among 14 811 South Africans over three years, the radically new second iteration conforms to Hyundai’s Sensual Sportiness design language, which sets out to prove that value for money does not have to look bland or nondescript.

Styling: Like it or not?

Appearing very much like a shrunken Genesis GV80 infused with Venue, Palisade and Tucson elements, the Indian-built Creta, which rides on the same platform as the Kia Seltos, is unlikely to receive universal approval, but at the same time, is likely to attract a second glance in the way the old model never would have.

Hyundai Creta

Hyundai Creta rear

As has become fashionable in recent years, our Executive spec tester sported the same two-tone colour option as it did at the local launch, Phantom Black over Lava Orange for those in the know, albeit this time as an optional extra for a considerable reason that will be mentioned later.

Hyundai Creta

Hyundai Creta Executive comes as standard with 17-inch alloy wheels.

Riding as standard on 17-inch alloy wheels, which represents the most conservative aspect of the exterior, the polarising look does not extended to the interior, which, while an equally welcome step-up from the original, still rates as something of a hit-and-miss explained at the local launch.

Logical but also lacking

Aside from the good looking but ultimately impractical white faux-leather upholstery and dashboard padding, which does lift the cabin’s ambience but is unlikely to remain that way in a few years’ time, the simple, minimalist look and eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is contrasted by varying degrees of plastic usage ranging from premium to resoundingly cheap.

Hyundai Creta

Hyundai Creta interior

Unlike on the launch, no creaks were detected but the lingering notion of some chrome accents on the facia to offset the swaths of grey plastics still lingered.

An area where the Creta most certainly does not lack is space.

Space to live by

Hyundai Creta

Hyundai Creta boot with the rear seats up

Measuring 4 300 mm in overall length, the seemingly small 20 mm gain over its predecessor is unlikely to be viewed as minor by those seated in the rear. In addition to head-and-legroom falling in the ‘excellent’ category, the Executive also scores rear air vents, a single USB port and a small storage slot in a design appearing akin to a face with a cigar in its mouth.

RELATED: Hyundai Creta arrives with a daring new suite

Hyundai Creta

Hyundai Creta boot with the rear seats down

The space fest continues at the rear in the form of a 433-litre boot that expands to a capacious 1 401-litres with the rear seats down, all with the added convenience of a full-size 17-inch alloy spare below the boot board.

You want features?

Hyundai Creta

Hyundai Creta storage area in front of the gear lever doubles up as the wireless smartphone charging pad

Including the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled display, whose graphics appear a trifle outdated despite being a doddle to use and browse through in part thanks to the shortcut buttons, the Executive brings a full-house of features only blighted, for some, by the lack of in-built satellite navigation. Still, it comes equipped with:

  • six-speaker sound system
  • 3.5-inch TFT instrument cluster display
  • height-adjustable front seats
  • folding electric mirrors
  • cruise control
  • wireless smartphone charger
  • parking sensors all around
  • Hill Start Assist
  • reverse camera
  • tyre pressure monitor
  • front armrest
  • LED follow-me-home headlights
  • keyless-entry
  • all around electric windows
  • daytime running LEDs
  • leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel
  • ABS with EBD and ESP
  • six airbags
  • auto lock/unlock doors

Don’t expect a power trip

As hinted at earlier, the arrival of what appears to be the same Creta sampled at the local launch based on the colour and specification fizzles out when you start it. Confirmed by the chrome badge on the boot lid, the 103kW/242Nm 1.4 T-GDI petrol makes way for a 1.5-litre turbodiesel, the same unit powering the Seltos, with a six-speed automatic gearbox replacing the seven-speed dual-clutch.

Offered in a 1.6-litre displacement in the previous Creta, the oil-burner produces 84kW/250Nm and while likely to be the most popular option, it is no ball of fire.

Hyundai Creta

Hyundai Creta 1.5D logo

In spite of the eight kilowatt torque gain, the diesel doesn’t like to be rushed and delivers its power in a linear fashion that becomes frustrating after a while. Verging on underpowered before the turbo starts spooling, the oil-burner proved adequate at cruising speed with little cabin noise intrusion, but still something of a disappointment.

Sport mode of the bizarre

For its part, the six-speed ‘box, while not in the league of the petrol’s dual-clutch, shifts smoothly and without much hesitation as it works surprisingly well with the engine. While gear shift paddles are still missing like on the petrol, a Sport mode is provided when clicking the gear lever into manual mode.

Offering a smidge better response, the mode, bizarrely, is only active when the ‘box shifts automatically. In short, despite being in the manual override, selecting with the gear lever manually causes the ‘box to revert back to its default setting instead of remaining in Sport.

Hyundai Creta

Passenger seated in the back have lots of roof but also the luxury of air vents and a single USB port

This oddity aside, the Creta still recorded an indicated best of 5.1 L/100 km in mixed conditions, a 0.9 L/100 km improvement on Hyundai’s claim.

Like with the T-GDI, the ride impressed by being soft and comfortable, but undaunted by sudden surface changes. More badly patched sections did exhibit a slight jolt though, reminding one to be careful even with 190 mm of ground clearance.


If anything, the diesel-powered Hyundai Creta resulted in more questions than answers. Identical in spec to the T-GDI, the lacklustre oil-burner had this author asking whether the petrol’s premium at the expense of consumption has for once been justified.

Hyundai Creta

Hyundai Creta name badge

Priced at R469 900, or in this case, R474 900 with the two-tone roof, the diesel still makes for great value considering the spec it offers, but with the petrol eliciting more go and the two-tone as standard for R484 900, it’s reign as the Creta for all could well become more of a subject than reference to its looks.

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