The first impression of the Creta is that the car is very well proportioned. It doesn't look too compact, and also looks very agile and sporty in its stance. The car's cabin is well finished but not overwhelming - in the sense that unlike recent Hyundai cars that try almost too hard to wow you, this one's a bit understated. The cabin is reasonably roomy and there's good leg and head room at the rear. But it doesn't have the airy and roomy feel of the Duster's cabin.
The top spec cars are very well loaded with features. But we will have to see what makes it into the lower variants. There are 4 variants in all, with Hyundai offering a choice of two diesel engines (1.4-litre, 1.6-litre) and one petrol engine (1.6-litre). The diesel 1.6 has the only auto option which is a 6-speed box.
I drove both the manual and automatic 1.6 CRDi diesel, along with Ashish. The car has an output of 127bhp and we got a go at the two cars at Hyundai's plant test track. We drove by turn and so it was the manual first. The immediate sense you get from the car is that Hyundai has certainly reworked the 1.6 diesel unit to be punchier and offer great low and mid range torque. The car responds well from standstill and also allows you to downshift and accelerate quickly.
There is not much lag and drivers will appreciate the fact that you don't need frequent gear changes especially at lower speeds. So city diving should be a breeze. But to go with the quick acceleration both of us felt that there should have also been a sportier and stiffer suspension. What also lets the car down is a very soft steering with limited feedback and way too much play. A precise steering and a sportier setup would have also held its own better against the Duster - a car that drives very well. I'd have especially liked the steering to be not just adjustable for height but also reach. But the engaging gearbox, good grunt and quick pickup will impress buyers looking for a peppy diesel.
On to the automatic now. And it's very different in its character from the manual. Somehow the same engine manages to sound a bit louder too! The automatic has been tuned for efficiency and typical city driving, and so is not as engaging or fun as the manual. But it is still good to see Hyundai bringing us a more superior gearbox as compared to the auto boxes we got on cars like the Verna. The 6-speed doesn't allow you to redline the car, nor does it let you downshift - even if you use the tiptronic and get into manual mode. While none of this will matter much during daily driving conditions, where it will make a difference is on highways when you're trying to go past a vehicle and need that instant downshift and added punch.
We drove the two variants for a brief period of time and these impressions are based on the feedback the car gave us on the silky-smooth tarmac of Hyundai's test track. We'll get to learn about the car a lot more when we take it for a more evaluative drive upon its launch.