My niece once asked me if she could get some candy; and contrary to what might be believed, I said 'yes' (you read that right). My only condition was that she had to make up her mind and buy one, which turned out to be quite a task for her. Sharing this dilemma are Indians, who want to buy a car and adding to it are the growing number of options car makers have to offer. Hyundai is one such company, which has pampered its customers with options and the latest of the lot is the addition of an automatic gearbox in the petrol variant of the Creta SUV.
The auto-box in the petrol variant doesn't come as a surprise, as the diesel automatic 1.6 SX+ trim has gathered a lot of attention. According to the folks at Hyundai, 18 per cent of the total sales of the Creta are those of the diesel automatic; and so, the petrol automatic was the next logical step. So, are there any changes to the car? Not really. There are absolutely no changes to the exterior of the car and the only thing that this car gets is an 'Auto' badge, at the rear, to distinguish it from the others; but then again, there's no badge to suggest that it's a petrol variant.
It's still as handsome and eye catching and when you drive it around, there are people who do give it a second look. But we've already spoken about all that and the attention now has to move on to how it drives. The 1.6-litre petrol engine is good enough, for the 122bhp, and Hyundai has opted to equip it with a six-speed automatic gearbox. Now, this is a torque convertor, so we were expecting a bit of hesitation, while going ahead, but the Creta moves smoothly off the line and it's amazing and amusing to see how well the gears shift, as it's all smooth and you want it to be that way in traffic conditions. The auto-box responds well to your throttle input too; and you can't help but enjoy the seamless transition of the gears.
What also impress are the NVH levels in the car. The cabin is silent because the engine doesn't make a noise and neither does the gearbox. There's no clunk that you hear, when the gears shift, but when you put the pedal to the metal - that's when the gears can't keep up with the urgency and you hear the engine rumble a bit, till it reaches the 3500rpm mark, before the gears play catch up and that is a bit annoying, especially if you're planning to overtake. But there is a solution to this, given that you can shift to the manual mode and everything falls into place. The gear changes at your will and there is enough power to keep you going.
There are no complaints about the ride quality either, because the Creta coasts over any undulations the road has to offer. The first rains in Mumbai have been extremely harsh on the road surface and the Creta has taken that in its stride, as it soars over these potholes, to give the passengers in the car a comfortable driving experience.
The cabin is a familiar one and the feature list too remains the same, as on the SX+ variant; so it's not top-of-the-line, which is why a bunch of features go missing. To begin with, there is no cruise control, which, on an automatic, would have made a world of difference. Then there are only two airbags on offer, instead of six, which the top-end variant gets. It also doesn't get auto-locking doors, auto-dimming IRVM and auto headlamps and wipers; all of which, included, could have justified the ₹ 12.86 lakh price tag that it carries.
Its closest competitors are the Ford EcoSport and the newly launched Honda BR-V, but the Creta costs ₹ 3 lakh more than the EcoSport and is close to a lakh more expensive than the BR-V, which comes with an additional row of seating (all prices ex-showroom Delhi). The petrol automatic is a more than a lakh cheaper than its diesel automatic cousin, which actually makes it an interesting buy. Yes, it is a great car and makes for a good buy. The only thing that makes you hesitate is the lack of features in it. Considering that the demand for automatic cars is going to grow in the coming years, we can expect the Creta, with the auto-box, to contribute to close to 25-30 per cent of the sales of the SUV. Hyundai is optimistic about the SUV segment and we know that it's set to introduce an SUV, in every segment. Needless to say, the success of the automatic variant will only lead to them introducing the auto-box, in its entire range, in the coming years. Let's wait and watch when.