Since it hit Indian roads six years ago, the Hyundai Creta has quickly become a favourite among SUV drivers, which is why the launch of its larger cousin, the Alcazar, built on the same platform, has generated a lot of buzz. Hyundai has been at pains to say that the Alcazar is more than just a Creta with seven seats, but there is no denying the family resemblance.
The Alcazar is, however, a full 200mm longer, 40mm taller, and has 10 mm more ground clearance than the Creta. The face is familiar, notwithstanding the bolder grille in dark brushed metal that flows outwards at the top to split the daytime running lights and the three-cube headlamps.
It’s only when viewed from the side that the differences become more apparent. The defining difference is the 150mm length that has been added between the wheels, which is key to liberating more space in the cabin. The sharp-looking 18” alloys are larger, and a set of metallic running boards give you a step up. The thick character lines on the rear haunches are new, and the roofline is quite straight. The rear has new tail lamps with the model name sitting across the central chrome strip.
Where the Creta had just two windows, there is an additional one here for the third row; fortunately, it’s well-proportioned and does not end up looking like a van.
So how good is that third row? It’s not as spacious as a Tata Safari, but it’s not so small that only kids can fit in. It’s not a punishment to be banished to the third row. The middle row slides, and it will take some juggling to get enough space for each row, which can be achieved if both passengers aren’t too tall. Getting in and out is easy, too, with the one-touch flip-and-fold seats on both sides.
As for the middle row, the captain seat variant which you can slide and recline is for those who want comfort. While you can stretch out, the seats themselves could have been larger and plusher. A fixed centre console serves as an armrest, and there are AC vents with blower control, USB ports, cup holders, sun blinds, and pull-out tables for an iPad or laptop.
The rest of the cabin is quite similar to the Creta except for the tan leather that runs across the dash, the additional chrome on the steering wheel and door pads, and a glossy black central console. Also new is the fully digital instrument cluster. The display changes to suit the drive modes, and has a camera feed of what’s behind you when you indicate a turn.
What’s impressive is the extensive equipment list. There is a 10.25-inch touchscreen with connected-car tech, ventilated front seats, auto climate control, a wireless phone charger, tyre pressure monitor, Bose sound system, air purifier, drive and traction modes, auto LED headlamps and the panoramic sunroof. In addition, you get 64-colour ambient lighting, puddle lamps that project the Hyundai logo, a second wireless charger for the middle row and a 360-degree surround camera array.
I took the 2.0L petrol on a drive out of town for a long weekend. There is always luggage on holiday, and the impressively sized 180-litre boot with all rows up is good enough for 2-3 small soft bags. By flipping and folding down the third row and one of the captain seats, I had a bed for the doggo with window access—which is critical as dog owners know—and fit in all the luggage for the weekend easily.
The engine is a newer version of the one in the Tucson, with 159hp and 191nm of torque. Along with the auto box, it made light work of cutting through city traffic, but when you want to move fast, you do have to press hard on the pedal—the Alcazar doesn’t respond well to a light foot. And it’s not built for someone with smaller feet either—I found the pedals to be too high off the floorboard. With my heel on the floor, the top of my foot just about touched the bottom of the pedal. So, throughout the drive, my foot was suspended mid-air for stronger acceleration. On a long drive, that gets really tiring and uncomfortable.
Returning to performance, once you push down on the pedal, it accelerates pretty effortlessly. The 100 comes up in a rapid 9.8 seconds, and cruising down the highway at triple-digit speeds, it breathes easy. Overtakes come quickly, and the engine is refined for the most part, getting loud only when you push hard. On the highway, it was easy to set the cruise control to the speed limit. It was an effortless drive with an occasional tap on the brakes, and the car felt stable even at high speeds.
As we got close to Mulshi in Maharashtra, the road deteriorated into a series of potholes, but the Alcazar sailed through. At low speeds, the soft suspension cushions the bumps, but as we got quicker, we did feel the jolts a bit on uneven patches of road.
The last section of my drive was up a small ghat, where the fully loaded Alcazar struggled a bit. I needed to use the paddles to keep it in first or second gear for the climb. A lot of pedal input is required, which amplifies the feeling that the car is not progressing as quickly as desired. The steering is aimed at ease in city driving and parking, for which it is perfect. But on a winding road, it doesn’t t offer much feedback and feels a little too light. While it doesn’t roll much, it is best to take corners at a leisurely pace. In fact, that’s what the Alcazar is all about: ferrying your family in a relaxed manner.
While the Alcazar may not have the third-row space or road presence of some of its rivals, its more compact size makes it more city-friendly. Plus, it comes packed with features at a smart price range of ₹16.30-20 lakh. The Alcazar is a good choice for those who are chauffeured around and want a car large enough for an outing with family or friends.
The writer is Editor, Autocar Show