Hyundai Alcazar 1.5 turbo-petrol review: Change of heart

    Hyundai’s three-row SUV gains a new powertrain and some mild cosmetic and feature updates.

    Published on Jun 14, 2023 08:00:00 AM


    Make : Hyundai
    Model : Alcazar
    We Like
    • Refined engine
    • Lengthy features list
    • User friendly
    We Don't Like
    • Fuel efficiency
    • Feels jerky at slow speeds
    • Space in the third row

    Hyundai’s three-row SUV, the Alcazar, was recently updated for 2023, bringing in a new petrol engine, a new gearbox, some minor styling changes and feature additions. We’ve now had the chance to get behind the wheel to tell you what all is new and what the updated Alcazar feels like.

    Hyundai Alcazar turbo-petrol-DCT engine, gearbox, performance

    The petrol Alcazar is now powered by a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, which makes 160hp and 253Nm of torque and, in this particular instance, is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which transmits power to the front wheels. This is the same unit that does duty on the new Verna Turbo and the Kia Carens, and it can also be had with a 6-speed manual gearbox in the Alcazar in the lower variants. Interestingly, Hyundai has stuck to a conventional 3-pedal manual with this engine, while Kia has ditched the manual for the iMT. Both brands say their choice is based on customer preference.

    New 1.5 turbo-petrol engine is refined and makes 61Nm more torque than older 2.0MPi.

    The 1.5 Turbo is heavily localised and hence cheaper than the imported 2.0 MPi it replaces; it is also lighter yet more powerful (by 1hp) and torquey (by 61Nm). The new 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine is RDE compliant and it’s also E20 (20 percent ethanol blend) fuel ready. From the moment you thumb the starter button, it becomes apparent that this is a refined unit. And it remains so, throughout the rev range. Performance is also strong and it builds speed in a linear manner.

    However, compared to the older 2.0, the 1.5 turbo is slower in the 0-100kph run in our performance tests, but it is quicker in terms of in-gear acceleration. This is because the 2.0 MPi had strong bottom-end performance, which helped it get off the line quite aggressively. Also the 1.5 turbo has some off-boost lag, hence the difference in 0-100 times. However, the strong mid-range of the turbo is what helps it to be quicker in gear.

    1.5 T-GDi DCT (Sport mode)2.0 MPi AT
    20-80kph (kickdown)5.59sec6.45sec
    40-100kph (kickdown)7.32sec8.21sec

    There are three drive modes on offer too – Eco, Comfort and Sport. In Eco and Comfort, the Alcazar feels relaxed as the throttle response is very gradual and it won’t downshift at the first given opportunity despite a generous amount of throttle input. This makes the Alcazar a relaxed cruiser on those family drives. 

    The Alcazar Turbo is entertaining in Sport mode.

    Then there’s the Sport mode for when you don’t have to haul your family around. In Sport, the Alcazar feels energetic as the throttle response is sharper and the engine revs higher as the gearbox holds on to the gears longer. You can also take manual control over the gears, either via the steering-mounted paddle shifters or the ‘Tiptronic’ function of the gear lever, which adds that fun factor. The gearbox will also rev match on downshifts in Sport mode, which is entertaining. However, when driven pedal to the metal, the performance is quite similar across all three modes.  

    While performance and refinement are impressive, there is one negative aspect about the new Alcazar turbo DCT. At low speeds, especially in bumper-to-bumper traffic, it feels jerky when you get on and off the throttle, no matter how smooth you try to be with your inputs.

    Hyundai Alcazar turbo-petrol-DCT fuel economy

    In our fuel efficiency tests, the Verna Turbo, which uses the same powertrain, managed 10.76kpl in the city and 16.05kpl out on the highway. Given that the Alcazar is a larger car and the fact that it weighs 185kg more than the Verna Turbo, takes a toll on the economy. While Hyundai claims the Alcazar turbo petrol will do 18kpl, we only managed to do around 8kpl in the city and a little over 12.5kpl on the highway, which isn’t great despite Hyundai introducing fuel-saving auto start/stop tech on this SUV. Interestingly, Hyundai says complaints of the 2.0 MPi's poor fuel economy is another reason they moved to the 1.5 Turbo, so its poor showing here is a little disappointing.

    Fuel economy
    Test cycleFuel economy

    However, it’s worth noting that our tests were carried out during peak summer with ambient temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Celsius. So the AC compressor was on for the entirety of our run, which meant the Alcazar didn’t automatically turn off even at traffic signals, impacting the fuel efficiency.

    1.5 Turbo brings in auto start/stop tech on the Alcazar.

    Hyundai Alcazar turbo-petrol-DCT ride and handling

    The change of powertrain, however, hasn’t changed the way the Alcazar rides and handles. At low speeds, the Alcazar’s ride does feel a touch firm and jittery. The MG Hector Plus feels a lot more supple here, but unlike the MG, which tends to pitch and bob at highway speeds, the Alcazar feels relatively well-behaved as you pick up the pace.

    Alcazar's ride feels composed at highway speeds.


    The Alcazar is a predictable handler too and so long as you don't treat it like a low-slung sedan, it'll remain confident around bends. The steering though is on the lighter side, which is a boon in the city and while parking, but you do wish it offered more feedback.

    Hyundai Alcazar turbo-petrol-DCT exterior and interior changes

    Hyundai has made a few subtle styling changes to the Alcazar, but you’ll need a keen eye to tell the differences. On the outside, the biggest change is the front grille that’s smaller than the one on the outgoing model and gets differently shaped elements within, in line with Hyundai’s new Parametric Dynamics design language. There’s also a Turbo badge on the tailgate and a DCT badge on the front right fender to signify its new powertrain. Interestingly, the Alcazar skips the new 2D satin-finished Hyundai logo that’s been featured on newer models and has stuck to the 3D, chrome-finished logo, which looks classier in my opinion.

    Redesigned front grille and badges are the only points of distinction outside.

    The changes – or rather the change – inside are even less significant. The Alcazar Turbo gains a new auto start/stop function that can be manually turned off and the button for that has been added to the panel on the right side of the steering wheel which houses the starter and traction control buttons. Other than these nominal changes, the Alcazar remains unchanged.

    Hyundai Alcazar turbo-petrol-DCT interior space, features and safety

    The Alcazar USP remains the fact that it’s the only Hyundai model in India with a third row of seats. The front seats are comfy, ventilated and electrically powered, and the dual-tone cognac and black upholstery feels premium. You do get the option of a 7-seater, as seen here, with a bench seat in the middle row or a 6-seater with individual captain’s chairs in the Alcazar. Space in the middle row is ample, but the seats themselves aren’t as comfortable as the ones up front, while space in the third row is tight and is best reserved for kids, or for adults for a short time. The Alcazar is the smallest SUV in its class and you can feel that from the inside as you will have to find a legroom compromise between the third and sliding second row to accommodate taller passengers comfortably.

    Third row seats are cramped for adults.

    The Alcazar remains one of the better-equipped SUVs in the segment. Feature highlights include a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, ventilated seats, a panoramic sunroof, Bose audio system, an air purifier, 18-inch alloys and much more. The only feature addition for the Turbo is the auto start/stop tech. If we had to nitpick, Hyundai could have included some missing features in this update, like a heads-up display, electric tailgate, and ADAS tech, which is offered on not only rivals like the XUV700, Hector Plus and Safari, but even the cheaper Verna.

    On the safety front, the Alcazar now gets six airbags as standard across the range. Other safety kit includes traction control, ESP, a 360-degree parking camera and disc brakes all around.

    Hyundai Alcazar turbo-petrol-DCT price and verdict

    The Hyundai Alcazar 1.5 Turbo is priced from Rs 16.77 lakh for the entry-level 7-seater Prestige manual variant, going up to Rs 20.33 lakh for the top-spec Signature (O) 6-seat automatic. This Signature (O) 7-seat auto version we’ve tested is priced at Rs 20.28 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

    The Alcazar Turbo can be had in manual or automatic form, in 6 and 7 seater versions.

    When compared to the other three-row SUVs in the segment, the Alcazar is more user-friendly and easier to drive owing to its smaller dimensions, and it offers good value for money since it’s feature-rich and more affordable than the rivals at the top end. While most buyers would still prefer the diesel in this three-row SUV segment owing to their long-distance capabilities, the new Alcazar 1.5 Turbo proves to be a decent step up over the outgoing 2.0 MPi in terms of performance and it only makes the overall package spicier.

    Also see:

    Hyundai Alcazar 1.5 turbo-petrol video review

    Tech Specs

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