The Creta has created quite a buzz. A few months ago, Hyundai revealed sketches of the car, 'unveiled' it, and followed that up with the launch. We did drive it earlier, but that was on a test track at Hyundai's plant, in Chennai. We've now had a chance to drive it on our roads, and here's how it fares.Let's get to the main question\: do the Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano have anything to worry about? The answer is yes. Lots. Not only is the Hyundai in the same price bracket, it brings along everything the Duster and Terrano have to offer, and then some. We wouldn't call the Creta the best-looking Hyundai, but it looks quite all right. It's received the 'Fluidic' treatment, and the proportions are right, too. Yes, it doesn't have the rugged looks of the Duster, but it makes up for that with its sharp creases and imposing stance with a tall shoulder line.
See pictures of the Creta hereInside, things are far more premium than they are inside its rivals. Quality materials have been used, and the beige-and-black dashboard looks neat. It's got the right toys - sat-nav, Bluetooth, steering controls, a touch screen infotainment system, rear AC vents, reverse camera and all that. It's got more gizmos than any of its competitors. The Creta is big on space as well. The front seats are large and comfortable, and six-footers won't complain if you ask them to take the rear seat. The boot - 402 litres - is large enough to carry a weekend's worth of stuff.Hyundai spoils you rotten when it comes to engine options. There's a 1.4-litre diesel unit borrowed from the i20 for people who don't need too much power. It churns out 88bhp bhp and 220Nm of torque. If you aren't happy with those numbers, worry not, there's a 1.6-litre diesel on offer, too. It's been borrowed from the Verna, and is good for 126bhp and 260Nm of spin. Happy? Good. If you're not a fan of diesels, there's something in store for you, too\: a 1.6 petrol, again, from the Verna. It develops 121bhp and 151Nm. With that, Hyundai has covered all bases.The reason why there's not even a single manufacturer selling a diesel-auto combo is because market research and sales numbers in the segment peg demand at less than five per cent. But, that doesn't hold Hyundai back from giving it to you. The 1.6 diesel has an automatic available as an option. A six-speed one, and not the Verna's four-speed. We've been driving it all day now, and we've been smiling throughout. It's mapped for quick responses and understands your need for power rather well. It doesn't take minutes to downshift if you push your right foot down to the floor. Shifts are almost instant.Hyundai has understood our need for cars that ride well and has set up the Creta's suspension to suit Indian needs. Bumps are soaked up well, and the struts make no noise as they go about their business. The downside of all other nice-riding Hyundais is the way they handle speed, or corners, or both together. But not in this case. It's a good handler, this one. It doesn't tremble with fear at the sight of curves. It sticks to its line well, and doesn't induce fear like the Verna or the Elantra do. The steering, though not as talkative as the Duster's, is good enough to get the job done. The Creta starts at Rs 9 lakh for the base petrol and demands for Rs 14.23 lakh for the top-end diesel auto (ex-showroom, Mumbai). It's not exactly keen pricing, if you ask us. Rs 30,000 cheaper would have been great. But, even at this price point, it's good value for money. It offers everything that you need from a compact SUV. Features\: tick. Design\: tick. Good road manners\: tick. Space\: tick. It's all the compact SUV you need. Time to drive past the Renault dealership and head straight to Hyundai's.The numbers1.6 Diesel\: 1582cc, 4-cylinder, 126bhp, 260Nm, 6-speed manual / 6-speed automatic (Rs 12.16 lakh - 14.23 lakh)1.6 Petrol\: 1591cc, 4-cylinder, 121bhp, 151Nm, 6-speed manual (Rs 9.01 lakh - 11.74 lakh)1.4 Diesel\: 1396cc, 4-cylinder, 88bhp, 220Nm, 6-speed manual (Rs 9.93 lakh - 12 lakh, all prices, ex-showroom, Mumbai)Fuel tank\: 55 litresLxWxH (in mm)\: 4270 x 1780 x 1630Ground clearance\: 190mmThe verdictA well-rounded package. Good set of engines, drives better than any other Hyundai. On the expensive side, but worth the outlay.