Hyundai Alcazar first drive highlights: Creta on steroids has muscles of its own
Hyundai Alcazar is gearing up for a launch in the Indian car market as the company's first three-row SUV offering ever in the country. Hyundai has mastered the art of making its SUVs here popular - take the dominance of Creta and Venue, for instance. Banking on this experience, the Korean car maker is now betting big with the Alcazar and is positioning it as a premium offering for larger families.
The three-row SUV segment may still be rather nascent here with only a few players vying for attention. But the unmissable buzz from recent launches clearly indicates that the importance being attached is next to none. As such, Hyundai appears determined to not just announce its entry but have a vast chunk of the market share. That the Alcazar is essentially based on Creta is likely to help its cause because Creta has been a runaway hit for several years.
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Although the company showcased the Alcazar with its camouflage recently, that it is from the same family as the Creta is amply evident. Take the case of the LED head light units, imposing size of the front grille or even the design of the 18-inch alloy wheels - Alcazar is clearly the bigger-sized younger brother of the Creta. But go beyond these and this here is a vehicle looking at having its own identity.
Even through its guise, it's clear that the rear section of the Alcazar isn't merely a patchwork but a well-thought out addition. It doesn't look ungainly at the least and goes well with the overall side profile of the vehicle. Large windows, including a generous rear quarter glass promise to give the vehicle an airy cabin.
Airy cabin minus space could be an issue though but Alcazar makes the big claim of having the best-in-segment wheelbase of 2,760mm. This is not just 150mm more than the wheelbase of Creta but slightly more than that of the Hector from MG and the recently-launched Tata Safari. What this essentially means is that passengers in the middle row are likely to have the best seats in the house. The option of having either Captain Seats or Bench Seat is available here.
While the review unit of Alcazar for the short initial drive was camouflaged on the inside as well, expect a long list of features to adorn the vehicle, something that Hyundai tends to do as a matter of habit. The initial impression of fit and finish appeared to be good but the intricate details would only manifest during longer stints with the vehicle.
During the 15-minute drive of the Alcazar, its powerful petrol engine truly came alive and that there's 157 hp of power is quite evident. The six-speed manual gearbox was also as slick as ever and making it extract every bit of the 191 Nm of torque available was reasonably easy. What is likely to help the SUV's cause, despite its elongated proportions, is a light steering that made quick and sharp turns quite effortless. It is likely that the Alcazar would be a sharp mover within city limits.
Out on open roads, the Alcazar appeared to get a move on with eager enthusiasm and while braking was on point too, it is the soft suspension and minor body roll that appeared to be slightly misplaced. Of course, it is once again important to underline that these are just initial impressions.
That Alcazar would also be offered with a 1.5-litre diesel engine is a good move as there is a decent demand for the powertrain in the Indian car market. And that both engines would get both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic gearbox is another plus.
Hyundai is hoping that the Alcazar creates a separate fan base for itself while also expecting existing Creta owners to upgrade. The versatility that a three-row SUV offers at large is being increasingly known and this is precisely where Alcazar could ace the game.