It's been more than three years, since Hyundai launched the Creta, in India, and through all that time, the compact SUV has reigned supreme. It has fended off quite a few advisories, like the Renault Captur; and frankly, there's no one in that segment, who offers a better value for money proposition than the Creta. However, the demand for SUVs, in this segment, has declined and last year we saw sales dip by almost 3 per cent. But that clearly isn't dithering the automakers from launching new cars, in this segment. Nissan is the newest entrant and though it's yet to launch Kicks in India, we got a chance to bring the segment benchmark - the Hyundai Creta - and the newbie together, to find out which one is the better of the two.
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The Hyundai Creta facelift wears the family look, with the new cascade grille. The bifocal projector lamps are now on the top-spec variant; the fog lamp housing too is new and DRLs surround the fog lamps, giving it a signature look. Those 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels too look good on the car. But, there can be no doubts about which is the better looking one. Without a doubt, the new Kicks is a looker! The sharp, upright styling, with the edgy lines on the sides, looks smashing. The V-shaped grille, with a thick chrome treatment, and those sweptback headlamps add to the boldness of the Kicks. Viewed in profile, the crossover stance, with that Orange roof and grey body, gives it a youthful appeal and those 17-inch alloy wheels add to its stance. The Kicks is in fact longer than the Creta, by more than 100 mm. It's wider too and has more space in between the wheels, compared to the Creta. The Kicks also features LED projector headlamps. The headlamps are automatic and the fog lamps up front also light up at corners. The Creta gets the bifocal projector lamps only on the top-spec version, but it also gets LED DRLs, which add to the look of the car. The Kicks sadly misses out on DRLs.
Interior and Features
The Nissan Kicks being the newbie, of course has some tricks up its sleeve and the first thing you notice is the sumptuous leather upholstery all around the cabin, giving it a premium feel. Then there's the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with smartphone integration, in the form of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Automatic climate control and cruise control are also part of the package. On the safety front, Nissan offers 4 airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, hill start assist and a first-in-segment 360 degree camera, which comes in handy, when parking in tight spots. However, it does miss out on a few features, which Hyundai has managed to pack into the Creta. For starters, the Creta's top-spec version gets a sunroof (which is for most people nowadays, a deal maker); there's also an electrically adjustable driver's seat, as opposed to the manually adjustable one in the Kicks. The driver seat on the Kicks is a touch too high and the armrest attachment on the driver's seat eats into the space for the seat belt buckle and you really have to really make an effort to get it in. The Creta gets 6 airbags, but misses out on rain sensing wipers, which the Kicks offers.
Both the cars get a part digital, part analogue instrument cluster, but the one on the Creta is easy to navigate through. The Creta also gets steering mounted controls, which gives you all the controls at the touch of your fingers. Sadly, the Kicks gets the same steering mounted stalk, which we've seen on the Captur, which is a bit of an eyesore.
Also Read: Nissan Kicks: All You Need To Know
The Creta also comes with a wireless phone charger, while the Kicks gets a 12V socket and a single USB and AUX-in ports. Both cars come with AC vents at the rear. But, we were surprised by the space both had to offer on the rear seat. The Kicks gets a one up, in terms of wheelbase on the Creta and yes, we hoped that there would be more space on offer there; but there isn't.
There's good head and shoulder room, but hardly any knee room and that does come as a surprise. The Creta fairs well in this context, as there's a good amount of knee room at the rear. But the bolstering of the seats makes the Kicks the more comfortable of the two.
Engine and Transmission
The Kicks is available with both petrol and diesel engines - both 1.5 litre units. We compared the diesels of both cars, so let's get to it. The 1.5-litre diesel on the Kicks churns out 108 bhp and that's a tad low, given the competition it has to face. The 240 Nm torque kicks in at just above 2000 rpm and there's quite a roar from the engine. Post 2000 rpm, the Kicks is in its zone, the light clutch and the six speed manual transmission makes things easier for the driver. Gear changes could definitely have been better, as there is minor resistance in the slotting of gears. In comparison, the gear shifts on the Creta are really good. The gears slot in well and the gear ratios too are not as short as the ones on the Kicks.
What Hyundai has going for the Creta is the sheer number of options on offer. The diesel itself is available with two engines, the 1.4-litre, which is good enough for 89 bhp, and the 1.6-litre engine, which makes it the most powerful compact SUV in the market. With 126 bhp on offer, the Creta has enough power at its disposal. And yes, you also get the choice of an automatic and manual transmission. The 6-speed manual is a delight and the clutch is light, which makes driving the Creta easy, both in traffic conditions and even out on the highway. There's more torque on offer too, compared to the Kicks. Power delivery is linear, till the turbo kicks in, and then you really feel the surge in power. But the strong mid-range of the engine makes all the difference, on the highway.
Ride and Handling
The suspension on the Creta continues to be on the softer side and that might do well on low speeds. While most of the bumps and potholes are dealt with ease, there are those sharp ones, which disturb the cabin. The steering is nice and light and hence manoeuvrability in and around urban traffic is very easy, but you don't get a sense of connect, especially at high speeds. The high-speed ride feels soggy and not at all as calm or composed, like that on the Kicks.
The Kicks impresses with its ride quality. It offers a comfortable ride for its occupants. The suspension is not too much on the softer side and hence offers a very comfortable ride. All the undulations on the road, speed breakers, potholes are dealt with ease. It can be classified as a soft roader too and the big 17-inch tyres help in giving you the added benefit and confidence to take the Kicks on such roads. There is a bit of body roll though, but you can throw the car into a corner and get out of it with ease. Sadly, the steering feedback is not as much as we would have liked on the Kicks, though it is well weighed.
The Hyundai Creta is priced between ₹ 9.5 lakh to ₹ 15.10 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and yes the top-spec variants are pricier than the Captur. It will be interesting to see how Nissan plays it with the Kicks though. While we expect introductory pricing to undercut the Creta, the top-end version too is likely to be priced lower than the top spec Creta; and this definitely makes it a good proposition. The Kicks is good to look at, is good on features (though it misses out on a few) and has a good ride quality. Had it good space at the rear, this would have been quite the contest. The Creta, however, as an overall package outranks the Kicks and is still the more value for money proposition. The Kicks certainly has what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with the segment leader, but it's only after the prices are announced and sales kick-start that we'll know if it's capable to take down the segment benchmark.