Hyundai Alcazar first drive review: Best of Creta in a three-row form factor
Hyundai Alcazar is one of the biggest launches of the year in India and there has been very little wonder why Hyundai opted to further expand its already-strong SUV lineup in the country. See a space? Move in with a view to conquer. The premium mid-size SUV segment space is gaining a lot of traction lately and there's still a lot of unexplored potential that's pulling more players to step in. And this is where the Hyundai Alcazar is planning to build a solid reputation for itself. The Alcazar is basically a bigger version of the popular Creta SUV , but is it any more? Read the review below to find out.
(Also see | More pics of Hyundai Alcazar)
Essentially based on the enormously successful Creta, Alcazar does have an uncanny resemblance to its dimensionally smaller sibling. But it doesn't take a hard stare to realize that this vehicle right here isn't exactly trying to outshine Creta but in fact lock horns with some worthy opponents from the rival camp.
Of the many promises Hyundai has made, the Korean car maker is prioritizing styling, features, space and drive to be above all else. And once I got behind the wheels of the Alcazar, right from the word go, these became the focus areas for me to test out. Being the owner of a Creta myself, there was much curiosity.
So is the Alcazar a solid standalone proposition or is it merely looking to ape the success of Creta? Does the cabin indeed have the regal feel as the name 'Alcazar' seeks to suggest or it is only glamorously cosmetic? And what about getting a move on from behind the wheels? All of these answers, and more, below.
Like it in the looks?
As much as Alcazar may want to look like a unique product in terms of its design, it does have the same design genes as the Creta. See one coming at you from the rear-view mirror of your car and it may take a while to ascertain if it is a Creta or the latest from Hyundai.
The cascade grille in dark chrome finish is larger than the grille on the Creta but its shape is near identical. With Trio-Beam LED headlights and LED fog lamps which are also similar to what is observed on the face of the Creta , the Alcazar is an almost identical twin.
But move beyond the face and on to the side profile and the differences become absolutely obvious.
|Wheel size (inches)||18||17|
Alcazar is obviously longer but it is also slightly taller - even if not instantly obvious due to the stretched-out size. A best-in-segment wheelbase promises to offer more space on the inside while the roofline over the C-pillar is straighter for more third-row headroom. The very prominent character line on the side moulds right from the tip of DRLs , arching over the wheel arches and running right across to the tip of the rear lights.
The dark chrome addition on the door handle is subtle yet premium while the first-in-segment side foot step adds a practical touch for easier entry and exit from the vehicle. Personally , I am not much taken by the design of the diamond-cut alloys - could have been more sporty rather than floral - but it could be a subjective view. The wheel size though is an inch more than the one on the Creta and it helps the Alcazar stand more upright.
The rear view of the Alcazar is clean and it works to have had the designers not indulge in an overkill (yes , I am looking at you Aura). The LED tail lights have a sophisticated and clean visual appeal and although it looks similar to what was once seen on the Tata Hexa (at least to me anyway) , these compliment the stance of the vehicle well. A singular chrome line connecting the tail lights , grey skid plate and twin-tip exhaust further add to the visual elegance.
But does it really look like an SUV in the SUV sense we have grown accustomed to here in India? I reckon the Alcazar , visually , is more of a stately MPV than a boisterous and bulky SUV. There , said it. If you are someone who prefers an intimidating looking vehicle , the Alcazar may not catch your fancy. Instead , if you are taken by a three-row vehicle which looks exquisite without trying to appear as if it is designed to brush aside other cars on the road , the latest from Hyundai plays its part exceedingly well.
Bedazzling a throne?
Being a Hyundai , the biggest strength of the Alcazar is the sheer list of features - some from the base variant up - that has been made available. But before taking a deep dive into all the features on offer , it is important to reveal just what to expect in that additional row of seats.
Alcazar's third row , thankfully , isn't an after thought and definitely isn't an example of hasty patchwork. It appears that much thought has been given into how to settle fights about who would take to the seats in the third row and while the two here won't exactly be mighty pleased , they won't be grumbling all that much either.
Now remember , the Alcazar comes in both the six and seven-seat layout. Getting into the third row is quite easy , thanks to the tumble-down feature of the seats in the middle. Once these seats lock back in place , there is just about enough space for a person of an average height - like me - to settle in. Warning: If you are around the six-feet tall mark , steer clear of the last row.
There is a wafer thin space between the knees and back of the second row , definitely less than what's on offer in the third row of the Tata Safari. But there's a reason why. With all three rows up , Alcazar offers 180 litres of boot space which I found is enough to place a medium-sized suitcase as well as a cabin suitcase side-by-side. It is this best-in-segment statistic that comes at a slight cost and while the passengers in the final row may settle in nice and easy for city commutes - thanks also to dedicated AC vents with speed control and USB phone chargers , highway journeys taking hours and hours could warrant a shuffle among occupants.
If bribing the Alcazar owner for the best seats in the house is a possible , pay the weight in gold for the middle-row seats. With Captain seats in the six-seat layout , the middle row is done just right and then some more. Slide the seats back as much as the passenger behind would allow and you can still expect generous kneeroom , have adequate under-thigh support and a whole lot of headroom. The seats have decent levels of cushioning and the armrest in the middle - complete with storage and first-in-segment second-row wireless charging - seek to give a business-class-like feel. For even more of that feel , just roll down the retractable tray on the back of the front seats which can hold objects weighing up to 3.5 kilos. This comes with a long groove to place tablet devices and also gets cupholders - perfect for long journeys.
What also helps the ambiance is a voice-enabled panoramic sunroof , 64-colour ambient lighting , large windows and 8-speaker Bose system. The only drawback of note here is that the space for the feet is cramped because of the sliders on which the front seats are placed. A few inches is all you get to adjust and re-adjust your feet - minor if in sleek sneakers but concern if wearing bulky boots meant for hikes and climbs.
But if driving is far more up your alley than taking a walk , the front seats are where you are likely to find yourself at most times.
The entire cabin of the Alcazar is done in rich brown upholstery and while a lighter hue could have upped the premium quotient , this particular colour scheme still looks upmarket in its own right while being perfectly suited to camouflage dirt and dust to an extent. Dash of metal finish on some of the handles furthers this upmarket appeal while the piano black finish - yes , it will attract fingerprints - on the center console is another step in the same direction.
The center console houses the smart gear knob and has the drive and traction dial , auto-hold button and button for 360-degree cam on one side , and controls to adjust front seat ventilation on either side. Just beyond it is the storage space for wirelessly charging compatible devices and 12V socket , and USB chargers for device that do not support wireless charging functionality.
In what is also a crafty move , some of the variants come with a forward-facing air vent just under the central armrest - a great addition for a) even quicker cooling and b) preventing sweaty arms resting in automatic variants.
The biggest highlight yet again though is the 10.25-inch HD LCD main infotainment unit that is placed well to negate reflections and is large enough for clear visibility for even passengers in the second row. Typically responsive to touch , the screen can display and control almost everything that the Alcazar has on offer - air purification , AC controls (there are dedicated dials for it too , of course) , navigation , AV requirements and more.
|Alcazar - Some of the first-in-segment highlights|
|10.25-inch digital driver display|
|Side foot step|
|Rear window sunshade|
|Front row seatback with retractable table and cupholders|
|Bling view monitor|
|2nd row headrest cushion|
Then there is the equally impressive 10.25-inch driver display screen which has four levels of customization for appearance. It packs in additional information like Tyre Pressure Monitoring System , Compass and can even display feed from the Blind Spot detecting cameras on both of the ORVMs - engage the indicator left or right to get the feed straight on to the driver display.
Storage space is aplenty for passengers at the front but I feel the bottle holders on the door as well as the space under the armrest here could have been even larger for more convenience.
Overall , the cabin of the Alcazar continues to be a good example of how much Hyundai tends to concentrate on the interiors and while you may or may not choose every feature available inside a fully-loaded Alcazar , the fact that it comes packed , helps its case against some of its rivals.
Delivering on the drive?
What good are a plethora of features if a car - even a three-row one - isn't quite fun or capable to drive? And this is where Alcazar seeks to offer something to everyone.
Alcazar comes with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel motor. Both engine options offer six-speed automatic as well as six-speed manual. In our day out with the model , I extensively drove the petrol engine with automatic transmission before switching to the diesel with manual gearbox for about 30 minutes of open-road testing.
Around 55% of the initial bookings for the Alcazar have been for the diesel model and the ratio between manual and automatic transmission is around 50:50. Personally , I would rather buy a petrol car for practical reasons , the diesel Alcazar is nearly as much fun as the diesel Creta - obvious because it is the same engine with minor tweaks to the transmission.
Considering that the Alcazar is around 80 kilos heavier than the Creta - and has a larger footprint , the drive traits still are quite car-like. This makes the latest from Hyundai quite a crafty customer in tight city traffic conditions. On open roads , the diesel engine hummed along quite well between the 2 ,000 and 3 ,000 rev band. Push it beyond and the response comes almost as quick as the swiftness with which you would slot the smooth gearbox. For someone familiar with Hyundai SUVs , the Alcazar's manual transmission would be well known but what is also credible is the refinement of the engine with no grumble seeping in from under the hood and into the cabin.
In fact , the NVH levels are quite impressive in both diesel as well as petrol Alcazar models and while there is some degree of road noise at high speeds , there is not much else that creeps in.
And because I extensively drove the petrol with automatic transmission , here is where the bulk of the focus was also at. That Hyundai chose to bring in the 2.0-litre motor from the Tucson and Elantra into the Alcazar is a solid move because it may be better suited here than the petrol unit inside the Creta.
The gearshifts are nearly precise and the petrol engine keeps humming along well at low and moderate speeds. Push the speedometer into three-digit territory and the Alcazar pauses for a fraction before responding to the change in expectations. But once that fraction of time is over - a second or so , it pulls fast and it pulls clean.
While Alcazar does remain steady at high speeds , maintaining a precise straight line , the lightweight steering wheel - super slick for city conditions , offers absolutely nothing in terms of feedback on open roads. Just for the Alcazar , I feel Hyundai could have deviated from its usual set up and offered a slightly more weighted steering.
As for the suspension set up , it is once again on the softer side which means that while Alcazar does manage to ease past most road irregularities , there is also a tab bit of body roll - felt primarily by passengers in the last two rows. Here is where more contours on the seats here could have helped , perhaps. While Alcazar will manage regular drive traits with ease , it is when being pushed to tighter turns at higher speeds - remember the light steering? - that it could become a bit rumbly.
Obviously , Alcazar isn't built for challenging off-road adventures and there is no 4x4. Instead , it gets three drive modes - Comfort , Eco and Sport , and three terrain modes - Snow , Sand and Mud. In the last two modes - sand and mud , it manages to offer a tiny bit of more traction as I playfully ran circles on an empty stretch beyond the tarmac for a flutter of fun to end the day.
Alcazar isn't exactly meant for the masses even if it is aiming to attract all. At a starting price of ₹16.3 lakh and going all the way up to ₹20 lakh (ex showroom) , it is on the pricier side. Yes , the price difference between petrol and diesel may not be astronomical and yes , even the base Prestige variant offers quite a lot - LED headlights , ambient lights , dual-tone interior colours , remote engine start and 10.25-inch infotainment screen , among others - Hyundai could have omitted a few and brought the start price under ₹16 lakh.
Potential Creta buyers belonging to nuclear families may not see much sense in investing in Alcazar and because Creta is quite the solid proposition in its own right. But if you have been eyeing a bigger car with the bells and whistles that Hyundai is known for , Alcazar makes a rousing case for itself.
The plethora of options in terms of fuel type , transmission , colour choices - six single and two dual-tone , and seat layout further helps Alcazar make a case for itself.
If you want a three-row petrol vehicle , Alcazare ought to be right up your list of preference but if diesel engine is your desire and you are on an absolutely stringent budget , it would be best to take a cautious , well examined decision.