Hyundai Creta dons a new suit for dramatic effect

The saying “if you don’t succeed, try again” is perhaps cruelly attributed to the Hyundai Creta as it is considered one of the Korean brand’s most popular models.

In total, around five million Cretas have been sold worldwide since the nameplate debuted in 2015, around 15,000 of them in South Africa.

So far this year, as of the end of June, 994 units have been moved, calling into question the above statement.

Shake off the past

Creta’s Achilles’ heel has always been in a certain area. The original was very much in line with the “function over form” mantra as it did what was asked of it without fussing about it.

For the current second generation, Hyundai has given the Creta a healthy dose of boldness by incorporating the design of its premium version GV80 of the Genesis Division.

ALSO READ: Tucson-faced updated Hyundai Creta priced

The radically different Creta, while an evolution of the original, didn’t garner the widely expected accolades, soon attracting comments like ‘ugly’ and ‘what was Hyundai thinking?’

At the same time, it didn’t win favor for its bland and cheap interior, but it did win back, ahem…some face for being spacious and offering a comfortable ride.

look at me now

Obviously, the Creta’s aesthetic challenges didn’t go unnoticed by Hyundai’s top brass, who commissioned one Facelift last year after less than two years on the market.

A move that has paid off with dramatic effect, which is now Tucson-inspired Creta has tackled the issue of enduring looks in an endeavor that’s more than skin deep.

For one thing, the South African Cretas are no longer sourced from the Indian factory in Chennai, but from the Cikarang factory in Indonesia, which opened three years ago.

Subtle changes were only made at the rear.

In addition, Hyundai has increased the Creta’s overall length and wheelbase by 315mm and 10mm respectively, while ground clearance has been increased by 10mm for a total of 200mm.

Along with a slightly more attainable price tag, the Hyundai Creta promised a lot when the Highveld media descended to the Irene Country Club outside of Centurion last week to try it for the first time.

Facelift Hyundai Creta starts in South Africa
Range-top Executive now gets 17-inch alloy wheels as standard.

As mentioned, the re-styling involves adjusting what Hyundai calls its parametric jewel pattern grille and parametric hidden lights for an almost futuristic look that’s much more standing than before.

In addition to a new bonnet, slightly larger wheel arches and redesigned 17-inch alloy wheels on the flagship Executive, Hyundai has also revised the Creta’s rear apron, but not as extensively as the front.

While retaining the GV80’s split light clusters, they now feature LEDs with a new bumper, tailgate spoiler and a Creta badge over the tailgate rather below to round off the exterior.

Step-up required inside

Unfortunately, the advances made on the outside haven’t carried over to the inside, where the Hyundai Creta continues unchanged.

This means that not only are the improved materials of the Indonesian model lost, but also the new 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, climate control display and revised 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

However, Hyundai has said it will add a Plus Elite model to the range later this year, which will sit above the Executive and will most likely feature the features mentioned plus a few more.

Facelift Hyundai Creta starts in South Africa
The interior was carried over from the pre-facelift Creta.

Though far from sparsely equipped, whether it’s the entry-level Premium or the Executive, both of which carry over from the pre-facelift Creta, the dashboard’s still drab and bland layout continues to feel glamorous compared to the revitalized exterior out of place.

It remains a functional setup though, with the infotainment system easy to fathom if it looks dated, the seats are comfortable and the ergonomics are solid.

Despite the difference in material quality, there was no rattling or creaking, a complete departure from the pre-facelift Creta and a better assurance of long-term build quality.

The ride

Out on the launch route, which meandered around the outskirts of Centurion and Pretoria and Bronkhorstspruit, Creta’s biggest surprise revealed itself.

As part of the facelift and factory swap, both the predecessors supercharged 1.4 T-GDI petrol engine and 1.5 liter turbo diesel Engines are dropped along with their corresponding seven-speed dual-clutch and six-speed automatic transmissions.

Facelift Hyundai Creta starts in South Africa
Hyundai’s CVT, or Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), is standard on two of the three models available.

This means that the 1.5-liter naturally aspirated engine, with its performance still limited to 84 kW/144 Nm, remains. Also carried over is Hyundai’s six-speed manual and CVT, dubbed Intelligent Variable Transmission, or IVT.

An option on the Premium, but the only unit on the Executive, the ‘Box is a typical CVT in that it’s sleek and smooth at slower speeds, but drones and is a little indecisive at higher speeds.

Facelift Hyundai Creta starts in South Africa
Leatherette seats are comfortable, but height-adjustable only on the driver’s side.

It’s by no means one of the worst sold today, though, and keeps the Creta simmering in a friendly way with the little torque available.

Unsurprisingly, the free-breathing petrol lacks the punch of its now-defunct siblings, but on the other hand, given the instant availability of grunt, the Creta doesn’t let itself feel ponderous without the presence of a turbo.

Facelift Hyundai Creta starts in South Africa
Headroom and legroom for rear passengers remains a standout feature of the Creta.

Also predominant is the supple ride, soaking up bumps and perfections with ease while remaining sure-footed even after traversing an extensive gravel section on the launch route that threatened to throw the Creta completely off balance.

As before, the overall refinement didn’t disappoint, with the only black mark being the CVT as higher speeds or when overtaking.


While the power unit change is unlikely to find universal approval, the simplification along with the redesigned exterior has worked in the Hyundai Creta’s favor despite the disappointment inside.

Still as roomy as before and anything but under-speced on the spec front, it now remains a solid buy with looks to match.


All models come standard with a 7 year / 200,000 km warranty and a 4 year / 60,000 km service plan.

  • Creta 1.5 Premium – R409 900
  • Creta 1.5 Premium IVT – R429 900
  • Creta 1.5 Executive IVT – R469 900

Hyundai Creta dons a new suit for dramatic effect

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