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Judgement Day: Trial of Hyundai CRETA

Following their arrival in Nigeria, Hyundai CRETA and its sibling, Tucson, were, last week, released to Motoring Journalists for tryout. From Gbagada, through Lagos third Mainland Bridge to Victoria Island, Motoring World International’s Editor-in-chief, FEMI OWOEYE, put the CRETA through a torture. How did the car respond, and his verdict? It went like this…

Date was Thursday, 3rd March 2016 and take off point: Akin Adesola, Victoria Island, a street, which has metamorphosed to Nigeria’s automotive dealership haven.

Tropical sun shining bright, time was close to 12.30 post meridian.

After initial press briefing, I peered with Moses Akaigwe, Motoring Editor of THE SUN newspaper, who drove a Hyundai Tucson.

Led by a police escort, driving a Volkswagen Amarok pick-up, we had less traffic hindrances, as its blue flashing light remained active throughout the trip.

Less than an hour, first phase of test-drive ended at Gbagada, where we all toddled up first floor of a restaurant for refreshment.

Shortly afterwards, we were set for a return cruise back to Victoria Island.

Downstairs, the CRETA was ready for me.

Styling

It's time: Femi Owoeye unlocks the CRETA
IT’S TIME: Owoeye unlocks the CRETA, about to hit the road(Copyright: Motoring World Intl.)

Not a compact Crossover. Officially, CRETA is an SUV for the new generation. At 4.3m in length, it’s a bit longer than its rival, Ford Eco sport. Its bonnet is longer with a proper SUV posture. Its lower side is wider, which further explains its interior roominess.

Motoring enthusiasts’ eyes can not miss the CRETA’s simple, but eye-catching tail light, high roofline with roof rails, black cladding all around and gap between wheel arches with 205/65/16-inch alloy wheels.

Convoy of test-drivers on the D-Day, Thursday, 3rd March 2016
ON THE ROAD: Convoy of test-drivers on the D-Day, Thursday, 3rd March 2016

Also its elongated headlights and tail lamps which are archetypal of Hyundai Fluidic Sculpture design are attention grabbers. These are in addition to the dynamic front and distinctive side view with matching rear tail-lights.

Comfort & Space

ARRIVAL: Owoeye back at Victoria Island showroom of Hyundai Nigeria, after test-drive
ARRIVAL: Owoeye back at Victoria Island showroom of Hyundai Nigeria, after the test-drive (Copyright: Motoring World)

I did not have to bend to get behind the wheel, as my foot had enough room to sink into. Although manually operated, the Creta’s seat adjusters are conveniently located. Coupled with well cosseting driving seat, legroom, headroom and shoulder room are generous. So are the rear passenger seats with virtually flat surface for middle passenger, able to sit a six-footer with his or her head up. The only addition could have been a bit of thigh support.

Ride and Handling

Having adjusted the driver’s seat, I turned ignition key and the engine answered with a hardly audible noise. I had to rev-up to confirm the engine was running. Noise level is that low inside the Hyundai CRETA.

Led by our VW Amarock Pick-up escort, I pulled the Creta’s automatic transmission to Drive Mode. And the journey began.

ALL DONE: Owoeye alighting from the CRETA after the test-drive
ALL DONE: Owoeye alighting from the CRETA after the test-drive (Copyright: Motoring World)

While on the third Mainland Bridge, I pulled back a bit from the main convoy, hit the gas pedal to push the car close to 100km per hour and, after warning my co-passengers, slammed the brake. CRETA’s short stopping distance was impressive, proving that in case of sudden appearance of a pedestrian or cyclist, the SUV’s anti-lock brake system (ABS) is capable of preventing an avoidable bloody situation.

Although during a city drive, when you need sudden acceleration to overtake, it may take about two seconds to return the desired momentum, it, afterwards, goes like velvet. For those who drive automatic car regularly, this is not a significant downside and takes nothing away from the car’s ability, capability and comfortable ride.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Our police escort standing bye after leading the test-drivers to and from Lagos mainland
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Test-drivers’ police escort standing bye after leading  test-drivers to and fro Lagos Mainland(Copyright: Motoring World

Even when hit bumpy points of the road, I had an absorbent and supple ride. And I can tell that CRETA’s suspension does the job quietly. From Mainland of Lagos to the Island of Victoria (VI), my ride quality was excellent.

CRETA’s steering is as light as feather. It feels direct and easy to twist, at slow speed, and when you speed up, the steering lights up too, though a bit artificial. The CRETA also corners enthusiastically with least body roll. And driving on a straight line, the car is stable.

Performance

Although the Creta is novel in concept, the trim I drove is powered by four-cylinder GAMMA 1.6Litre engine with 159cc, delivering 121.3bhp @ 6,400rpm and 151Nm of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Safety & Equipment

While the CRETA cruises with confidence, its driver too has reasons to feel positive and secure behind the driving wheel, as it comes with enough safety features and equipment that makes motoring a pleasant experience.

Available in two variants – Elegance and Evolution, Creta offers, as standard, two airbags, Electronic Stability Control(ESC), which works in conjunction with a vehicle stability management programme; Anti-lock Brake System(ABS), Bluetooth, Park Assist, Rear Air Vents, Centre Arm Rest and Side Repeater Lamps.

Optional equipment on Evolution are leather seats, back warning camera, console cover leather, smart key (button start) and climate control automatic air-condition.

Starting price of the Hyundai Creta is N5.5 million

Verdict

With Creta, Hyundai is capable of heating up the already brewing battle in the world of compact SUVs. Given its smart interior, loads of equipment, solid build, sturdy suspension, imposing stance, coupled with comfort and space, cabals in its class have enough reasons to look over their shoulders.

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