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The Hyundai Creta will give you something to think about

It has its undeniable charm

The Hyundai Creta is a car that's very approachable and practical for its size. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

Life has been a big challenge for the past few years. Everyone was caught off guard by the pandemic, being affected in one way or another. That meant finding a new beginning or a reset. For me and my wife, it brought us to Cebu. A big step in feeling settled was moving into a house, with the thought of putting the difficulties behind us and starting afresh.

Slowly, we got our bearings back. She and I started toying around with ideas, like purchasing a car for her when the right time comes. There’s a short list with subcompact crossovers and a cute 4×4 on it—cars that are friendly in size, easy to handle, and practical.

Then another car popped up. I kept seeing the Hyundai Creta at a dealership nearby. It got me intrigued. Not long after, fellow media from Metro Manila flew in for the Creta and Stargazer driving experience, which made me want to try out the car all the more.

Don't be confused by its three big DRLs. The main headlights are lower down within the bumper. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

My loaner (courtesy of Hyundai Cebu Group) is a GLS variant. First impression? My wife likes the white paint job with the black roof.

The current front-end design of this Korean carmaker leads you to think that the daytime running lights and the initial lights are the headlights, while the headlights are the fog lights—similar to the Mitsubishi Xpander and the Nissan Livina and Juke, but with its own signature look.

Everyone will be staring at this rear end as you strut it around town. PHOTOS BY JASON DELA CRUZ

It’s the rear, however, that gets the most attention. The taillights are unique, even among the car’s siblings. Illuminated or not, it’s a conversation piece with the wife and the friends. It’s easy to spot and follow in a convoy, especially at night.

Anyway, the quirky design overall can still swing either way—not so much love-it-or-hate-it, but more like a favorable reception.

This two-tone black-and-brown interior is one of the more unique offerings on the market. PHOTOS BY JASON DELA CRUZ

The moment I get comfy inside, the wheel just gives me a sense that this is a fun car to drive, as were my past Hyundai drives. The TFT gauge cluster grabs my attention after. It looks like it came from a Mercedes-Benz. The touchscreen, meanwhile, is neat and easy to pair your phone with. Music via Spotify sounds good.

This Creta comes with a two-tone black-and-brown leatherette interior. The floor lining you see is supplied by a third party. While it is practical, I can’t say I dig the color and the pattern compared to if it were black.

Subcompact crossovers have grown in size to be as big as early SUVs in the '80s and the '90s. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

While I had this unit for a few days, I parked it beside my first-gen five-door Mitsubishi Pajero. I wasn’t expecting it to be just as long, minus my car’s bumpers. And to think the Creta is a subcompact crossover: It really is all about cabin space—quite abundant front and rear (not to mention the boot).

Makes me wonder if my ride is small, or if this thing is big. To which my wife replied: “I thought we were playing around with the idea of a small car.”

The Creta offers an engaging and comfortable driving experience. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

The next morning, she and I headed out of town to a resort in Daanbantayan, about 120km north of the city.

The thick wheel reflects the Creta’s fun-to-drive character with amply weighted steering. The brakes, meanwhile, are strong but easy to modulate. Good steering and good brakes make this baby Tucson engaging to drive.

The variable transmission works to make the most of the 113hp. Twisty coastal sections enticed me to shift to sport mode from time to time, while also getting more oomph to overtake stubborn vehicles in front. Wide concrete roads await once you reach the town of Sogod, making it a scenic and relaxing drive from here on to the destination. The ride is firm yet compliant.

Only time will tell if the Koreans have what it takes to stand out in the crowded subcompact crossover segment. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

The Koreans are making a habit of taking it to the Japanese. They have to. The subcompact crossover segment is perhaps the most hotly contested, with the likes of the Toyota Corolla Cross, the Subaru XV, the Honda HR-V, and the Mazda CX-30.

The Creta is a welcome entry to the party. More importantly, the wife seems to be toying around with the idea of this crossover.

Jason Dela Cruz

Jason is a veteran member of the motoring community, having worked as an automotive journalist and a car industry executive. He is now based in Cebu, where the car culture is vibrant.