As many carmakers move away from smaller diesel engines, Hyundai is soldiering on, and the Creta diesel makes a good first impression.
Published on Jun 02, 2020 06:00:00 AM
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The beige and black interior colour scheme looks premium.
Before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, the all-new 2020 Hyundai Creta had just been launched, but we only got the chance to drive the exciting 1.4 turbo-petrol variant. The thing is, that was but one of the five powertrain options Hyundai’s midsize SUV is available with. Now, we’ve managed to get behind the wheel of the Creta diesel-manual. This is the only engine-gearbox combination of the Creta that’s available in every single trim level – from the base E to this fully loaded SX(O) – which tells you that Hyundai expects customers for the diesel MT at all price points. This makes sense since, despite an industry-wide shift toward petrol, more than 56 percent of Creta customers pick the diesel version; for perspective, less than 25 percent of the smaller Venue’s sales are diesels.
Before even getting the chance to drive it, many were quick to point out that this new BS6-compliant, 1.5-litre variable-geometry-turbocharged diesel engine – with its 115hp and 250Nm – had lower outputs than the old Creta’s BS4-compliant 1.6-litre diesel engine. They were right, of course; the old engine with 128hp and 260Nm was an absolute gem. It was one of the strongest and smoothest around, and the best of the old Creta’s range.
So, how does the new, smaller engine in the 2020 Hyundai Creta compare? We didn’t get a chance to do the full Autocar performance test, but in a few quick acceleration runs on an empty back road, it managed 0-100kph in 11.75sec. That’s about a second slower than the old 1.6, but we suspect in the proper test conditions, this new one could get a lot closer. Its in-gear acceleration times of 9.77sec from 20-80kph in third, and 11.44sec for 40-100kph in fourth, are respectable for a car of this sort.
Well, if you were looking for that solid slug of performance you got from the old 1.6 CRDi engine once the turbo spooled up, that’s something you won’t find here. Power delivery, as with many BS6 diesel engines, is a lot more linear and spread across more revs. The upshot is far greater driveability, especially at low revs. Where the old 1.6 would struggle below 2,000rpm and then assault you with a huge wave of torque, this one gets going from as little as 1,200rpm. It takes a step up in power at about 2,000rpm and then pulls consistently until about 4,000rpm.
So it’s not the most exciting, but it is very tractable, which means you have to shift gears a lot less than in the old car. This also means it could probably take care of most urban driving situations in just third or fourth gear. It holds good on the highway too, where you can leave it in fifth or sixth and cruise all the way to your outstation destination. Again, we didn’t get a chance to do a proper fuel efficiency test, but its ARAI rating of 21.4kpl points to a good real-world result.
The good news continues, with a clutch and gear-shift action that are both incredibly light and smooth, in true Hyundai fashion. And while it’s not as silent as a petrol engine, it is very refined by diesel engine standards, with only a slight grumble emerging after about 3,500rpm. The suspension does feel stiffened up slightly compared to the turbo-petrol version – par for the course for many diesel variants to help cope with the heavier engine – but this hasn’t made things uncomfortable. You merely feel a bit more movement in the cabin over bumps, and overall the Creta’s ride comfort remains a strength. Driving dynamics, on the other hand, aren’t a strength, thanks to a lifeless steering and lots of body roll; if you’re after a keen driver’s car, you’re better off with a Kia Seltos.
A few points of note are that while this SX(O) retains the incredible equipment list that includes a panoramic sunroof, cooled front seats, wireless charging, a powered driver’s seat and a 10.25-inch touchscreen with connected car features, you do miss out on driving modes with this manual gearbox. Interestingly, while the turbo-petrol gets a sportier all-black colour scheme, the ‘standard’ beige and black theme with its brushed aluminium highlights has a far more premium appearance. Crucially, it does a better job of distracting you from the liberal use of hard, shiny plastics on the dashboard and doors. Similarly, the 17-inch wheels on this diesel are a nice two-tone chrome and black finish, which look far more upmarket than the dull grey ones on the turbo-petrol.
And a mention certainly has to be made of the back seat since this is a variant that’s likely to be chauffeur-driven. Hyundai has done a great job here, with generous cushioning, good thigh support, a well-judged backrest recline angle, a USB charging port and pillows that are strapped to the rear head-restraints.
With the naturally-aspirated petrol covering the lower price points and the turbo-petrol handling the performance end of the spectrum, it’s correct to assume the diesel Creta is aimed at those looking for practicality and the lowest running costs. The good news is, while it does deliver those things, what you also get is a smooth and refined drive as well as a generous equipment list and an impressive rear seat experience. It’s not the most exciting to drive, and those looks are an acquired taste, but it certainly is versatile. In fact, the only thing that would make it more versatile would be an automatic gearbox – and hopefully that’s the variant we’ll drive next.
*Performace figures are not as per Autocar India test standards.
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