Hyundai Creta (2017) First Drive


As the number of compact family car/crossover options in the new vehicle market proliferate, the burgeoning segment seems to be encroaching on family car/compact SUV territory. A good example is the new Hyundai Creta, which sees the Korean marque push its contender upmarket...    

The crossover segment and smart-phone industry have started to bear many similarities of late. Each manufacturer of these items seems to be releasing their  “latest and greatest of products” in record time. Ford, of course, was among the first to exploit the compact family car/crossover segment and it has dominated the sales statistics with the EcoSport. There are now many offerings to choose from and recently, the Suzuki Vitara was crowned the best compact family car in the Consumer Awards, marking it out as clearly the best of a pretty good bunch.

And so it was only a matter of time before Hyundai would join the fight, which the brand has now done with the all-new Creta, a car we’ve already driven internationally. Price is an important factor for buyers shopping in this category as most of them were traditionally sedan owners, but are now in need of something that offers more space and, possibly, style. Perhaps a child is on the way? Maybe a second one? Whatever the reason for purchase, crossovers of this type have to be well priced to be successful. At a starting price of R319 900, the Creta comes in slightly pricier than the competition... the aforementioned Suzuki Vitara starts at R267 900, while the top-selling Ford EcoSport comes in at R252 900. 

Size-wise, the Creta is not much smaller than its Tucson sibling and it feels particularly spacious inside.

Named after the island of Crete

You may think this pricing doesn’t stand the Creta in a good stead then, but the Hyundai does offer more features in some areas.  Before we get into that, let’s talk about the name Creta. It’s quite a peculiar name, considering that iX25 was on the cards for a while. Instead, the people in Korea decided to name if after the city of Crete, due to its ambitions to be a leader in its segment, as was once the Greek city.

The question then is, how does the Creta compare to its aforementioned rivals?

For starters, the Hyundai is larger than expected. Considering the target market, we can confidently say size does, indeed, matter. The Creta is actually only 70mm narrower than its older brother the Tucson, which is a strong seller in South Africa. It’s also higher than the Tucson with a ground clearance of 190mm, making it suitable for out-of-town trips that may involve gravel roads.

The touchscreen infotainment screen is a standard; it is certainly the Hyundai's biggest surprise-and-delight feature.

Stepping inside the Creta you are presented with a well-built interior and while hard plastics may be used on the dashboard, it has finishes that rank among the best in this segment. The infotainment system in the centre endows the Creta cabin with a modern, "techy" feel. It is also a high-quality system and easy to operate with features such as Bluetooth and USB as standard.

Standard navigation

Another standard feature is navigation in all the variants, which is a generous offer and probably why the Creta starts at a higher price than the competition. Additionally, a reverse camera is another standard feature in the Creta, so the price justification by Hyundai is that, should you specify the competition with the same amount of standard features, the pricing will balance out. Money aside, the Hyundai brand has been on a winning streak in terms of the way their new cars drive. Does the Creta maintain this standard? We’re happy to say yes, the engine and chassis definitely punch above the car's weight. 

The navigation display is clearly legible and the infotainment screen looks neatly integrated with the fascia design.

Two engines are on offer, both 1.6 litre in displacement – a normally aspirated petrol and turbocharged diesel with the latter only available with an automatic gearbox. The manual petrol is mated with a 6-speed gearbox which is a pleasure to use. Although normally aspirated, the engine is responsive and provides ample overtaking punch without sounding too strained. It’s not fast, but it’s also not slow. A power and torque figure of 90kW/150Nm is adequate for the purpose of this car. The diesel on the other hand offers much more torque. With 250Nm it’s definitely the model you want for better drivability.

Mated to the automatic gearbox, the diesel feels more “SUV-ish” to drive. Overall the most positive aspect of the Creta is its solid build quality. There is a noticeable lack of flimsiness in the car – it really feels like a baby Tucson. The ride is comfortable and the noise levels in the cabin are low, making it an enjoyable car to drive. Our test route included some gravel roads which the Creta handled very well. Bear in mind that this was what we would refer to as “Sandton gravel”, ie nothing too hectic but probably the type of off-road surface the clientele of a Creta would deem as bundu-bashing.

The Creta looks purposeful with its standard roof rails, LED daytime running lamps and chunky alloys.


There is really nothing that should deter a buyer from considering this vehicle. Instead there is a great deal the Creta offers to be a strong contender in its segment. Yes, the starting price may be higher than the others but looking at the top end, the competition catches up very quickly. Personally I prefer Hyundai’s way of positioning the specification levels of the car.

Instead of offering a bare bones variant, each model comes with the exact same features. The only thing you need to decide is whether you want a petrol or diesel and a manual or automatic if you choose the petrol engine. The new Hyundai Creta is a welcome addition to the market and with a good badge on its bonnet, expect to see many on the roads.

Hyundai Creta prices in South Africa

1.6 Manual R319 900
1.6 Petrol Auto R339 900
1.6 Diesel Auto R369 900

The Creta is offered with a 5-year/150 000 km manufacturer's Warranty with an additional 2-year/50 000 km manufacturer's powertrain warranty and a 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

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