Rs. 15 - 23 lakh: Looking at alternatives to a Hyundai Creta

I am looking for a car which I can take out of the parking lot without second thoughts about where I am going (not off-roading, but you get the idea), one with which I won’t have to worry about whether 5 people will be comfortable in or about luggage space for short or even moderately long trips.

BHPian asmr recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Dear BHPians,

I am very new to the forum (Thanks to the admin folks for letting me join in!) and some of you might have seen my posts on the Hyundai Creta review thread.

I had booked a Creta 1.5L Petrol SXO IVT on July 21, 2021. In the following 2 months, I found that I had enough reason for losing my trust on the vendor and HMIL, based on the sales process experience. In addition, reading up on all the threads related to SUVs/crossovers also got me thinking that paying upwards of Rs.2 million for that particular car was not maybe the best choice I made. So, after a short interaction with the dealer + HMIL support folks, which elicited no meaningful response, I cancelled my Creta booking on Oct 12th.

I am looking for a car which I can take out of the parking lot without second thoughts about where I am going (not off-roading, but you get the idea), one with which I won’t have to worry about whether 5 people will be comfortable in or about luggage space for short or even moderately long trips. And of course, bonus points to the car that can get me back to the good old days of more road trips, with comfort, reliability and assurance of quick service if needed.

Now comes the checklist:

  • We need space. The car should be able to comfortable seat 3 moderately built adults in the back for longer trips too. Bonus points if a 6ft 1in guy (me!) can sit in the back (occasionally) without knees scraping the front seat. Wife doesn’t like sedans. Just as well, since my mother finds it difficult to get in and out of low floor vehicles.
  • AT variants only and that too only CVT/IVT/TC. Open to good AMTs, but my experience with AMT was horrible during a few hours of driving within the city with a Swift DDIS AT. IMT is out, since Seltos is not comfortable with 3 people in the back.
  • Prefer petrol vehicles generally, given monthly run (after offices open up) would still be less than 1000km. Even with one long road trip per quarter and few shorter trips on weekends, I don’t expect to cross 12K to 15K kms in the first year. But I am open to diesel ATs too.
  • I am certainly not an ‘enthusiastic’ driver. I am quite ok with a car that can pull the load at decent accelerations and give a decent mileage with it. If I can take it fully loaded (5 people total + luggage) on a ghat road, say, to Ooty, or Kodaikanal or Wayanad, without much trouble, safely, in sort of not good weather or road conditions, I would be quite satisfied.
  • Safety – yes, it is important. But I am also practical about it. High speeds or negligent driving practices would negate any safety rating, in my opinion.
  • Budget – up to 20L. Can stretch a bit if needed by 10-15%.
  • Used vehicles – not a choice as of now.
  • Ownership timeline – I intend to hold on to it for 8 years at the very minimum. But that could change anytime in the future, depending on various factors.

That’s pretty much on the desirables! Fancy tech or electronic conveniences are welcome but not mandatory.

Now comes the shortlist:

Korean twins:

For now, I am not considering them. Might consider if I am not able to lock in on any other choice.

Maruti S-Cross (Alpha AT):

What I liked:

TD’ed it yesterday. Seating was perfect. I could get in the back seat with driver’s seat set to my comfortable position and still have enough space at Knees. A 6-7Km drive within small lanes and then on normal city roads was very good. Potholes or dug up patches in the road that usually showed up as jarring impact on my back in the Santro were not even felt much. I didn’t ‘feel’ the size of the vehicle (4.3m long) when driving it. Luggage space of 350 odd liters seems adequate. It should be able to fit 1 large suitcase (check in baggage size on aircrafts) with 2 smaller ones (cabin luggage size) and a few assorted bags. Hope I am not too wrong on that judgement. There is no loading lip which is a good thing. Seats were very comfortable and got a thumbs up from my wife. Overall fit and finish seemed good.

What was concerning:

The steering felt extremely tight (heavy?) at standstill, with engine on of course and at low speeds, even more than my old Santro. Is that normal or something of a defect in the test drive vehicle? The dealership guy didn’t have a good answer. Also, with low AC fan speed and no music inside the cabin, I could hear the vehicles outside, especially an autorickshaw that was, say 10 meters, in front of the S-Cross. To be fair, the autorickshaw engine was louder than usual. Another concern is that getting inside the car, especially in the back seat felt like really getting “inside and down”, the cabin floor felt a bit too low than the door sill. Would it be a problem for elderly folks? I don’t know. The adaptive guidelines in reversing camera are a miss, but I don’t see it as a major miss.

MG Hector (Sharp CVT):

What I liked:

Space. That vehicle is huge! For 3 passengers in the back, for a ton of luggage (not literally) and so much room for flexibility, this wins on space, hands down. I took the car on the same route as the S-Cross. I did get the ‘big car’ anxiety but the it turned out fine. I had to stop and reverse to complete a left turn due to traffic in the small streets. The 360 degree camera was good, but I guess my muscle memory made me fall back to the RVMs and gut instinct. On the final turn to left, the front sensors started going off, as I turned the vehicle through a really tight gap with another parked vehicle. Phew! What a relief! Then on small stretches of straight road, I tried to floor it. The response from the turbo engine was good, though with a bit of lag. Loved the ventilated seats and the close to silent noise levels inside the cabin, although I felt the seats in the S-Cross were more comfortable. Fit and finish seemed good. The steering was a breeze, compared to the S-Cross. Powered tailgate would be very useful for my wife (when I am lugging the baggage!).

(The panoramic sunroof was of course the only thing my kids were interested in this. )

What was concerning:

The height shows. My mother would probably need to have a step fixed to get inside. (To be fair, it was like this with the Innovas we traveled in during our trips, but she was few years younger then. Having survived cancer does take a toll anyway). The ride quality, surprisingly, felt extremely shaky in all directions, like the older ‘air suspension buses’ run by travel companies. It might put the passenger to sleep on normal roads, but for me as a driver, it was uncomfortable a bit. The bigger potholes that didn’t show up in the S-Cross were very much felt in this car. The SA who brought the car said it would give 10-11kmpl in the city and 15kmpl on highways. I think it was a bit inflated, having read about it here on the forums.

Tata Harrier:

Scheduled the test drive with 2 different dealers. First one never bothered to bring the car on time or even call me after the first phone call to fix the appointment. The second dealer missed the appointment twice and called me on some random weekday to see if I can do the TD since he ‘has the vehicle now’. I missed the call since I was at work and rescheduled it for the third time. That was missed as well. I am wondering what the sales and service experience will be if they can’t manage a single test drive appointment properly in a span of 2 weeks.

Other cars:

  • Innova: Too big (even more than Hector), too expensive for the package, all things considered.
  • XUV700: Looks like a one year waiting period. Might as well get another good car instead.
  • Jeep: Not considered, outside the range of what I am willing to spend.
  • XL6/Ertiga/Alcazar/Safari: Don’t need a 5+ seater, really. Long waiting times and sub-par sales experience (on HMIL and TATA ones) are a minus too.

At this point, I believe there aren’t too many options left for me. Would be great if the folks here can share their thoughts on the choices that I have shown here or choices I might be overlooking by being a bit parochial.

Stay safe! Looking forward to the responses.

Here's what BHPian anthusiast had to say on the matter:

In a similar search for a comfortable 5 seater I found the S-Cross Zeta AT most appealing. It is cheaper than MG Astor by ~1.7 lakhs and cheaper than the VW and Hyundai twins by at least 3.5 lakhs. There are some misses which I'm not happy with:

No Rear AC vents, no headrest for middle passenger in backseat. Note that Dzire, Ciaz get rear AC vents.

Even though the AT is a dated 4 speed Torque converter, I think it is still a notch better than the CVTs of MG, Hyundais.

Lacking active safety: There's no ESP, Traction control. I feel ESP is a life saver and more important than the crash ratings. This is a deal breaker for me. Note that Maruti offers it in the Ciaz, XL6 and more recently on the Swift.

There are not many 5 seaters in the segment. The only ones with a wide backseat are the MG Hector (not Astor), Harrier. If you wish to drop a segment down there is XUV300, of course with a powerful petrol AMT and a small boot.

If you have the time, I would suggest to wait for another 6 months, hoping for the S Cross facelift to address these.

Here's what BHPian anjan_c2007 had to say on the matter:

The waiting lists for the Hyundai Creta with some dealers is for six to eight months too. The laid back attitude of the dealer as said is disheartening. Contrarily, HMIL and other car makers need to reward brand loyalty by giving preference for 'Brand Loyalty Upgrades'. Verifying the ownership of at least five to ten years with the RC document, based on which a certain percentage like say 5-10% of the production could be earmarked for brand loyal customers. Car makers can then set a good example, when there are huge waiting lists.

The laid back attitude of the HMIL dealer takes us back to the good old days when Vespa /Bajaj/Priya, Lambretta (Lamby was readily available and had no waiting lists) , Fiat/Premier and even Ambassador dealers and their employees would give curt replies to those who had either booked or wanted to book these. While personally entering their premises, one would feel that he or she has stepped into a government department, not an auto dealership.

Coming to the XUV700, apart from the waiting list, we should have our own waiting list, to patiently await M&M's initiative to sort out the niggles and gremlins after its much hyped new launch. A similar patience is also required for the new Tata Safari. The fact that the Safari uses proven mechanicals is though soothing.

Hence, after taking account of all such pros and cons the choice becomes quite restricted to zero upon the S-Cross from MSIL. The Brezza's higher ground clearance also could be a hindrance as a choice.

Here's what BHPian buzzy_boy had to say on the matter:

You have a low monthly mileage. I'd recommend going for a car greater than 15 lakhs if and only if you are ready to pay upwards of 5 rs. In just depreciation costs per km (excluding fuel, maintenance, insurance etc.)

With that out of the way, go for the S-Cross or the Ertiga. The S-cross is built on the Brezza's platform, which scored 4 stars in the Global NCAP crash test. The Ertiga on the other hand scored 3 stars. However, the Ertiga is way more practical than S-Cross. It is also the best for older people to get in and out of.

It isn't clear to me, from your post, if you actually tried to fit your family into the Etriga and found it tight or if you haven't yet done so. If you haven't it's a good idea to take your entire family along for a TD (taking COVID precautions). In addition to testing for space, you get the bonus of testing how the engine works with a full load of passengers.

All the best!

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Live To Drive