Indians love travelling with extended families and backbreaking amounts of luggage. The 7-seater Hyundai Alcazar can handle all that, and more.
The ‘less is more’ dictum sounds cool, but doesn’t work in real life. Not here in India. In this country, size matters. Larger and bigger is always better. And that certainly goes for cars. Why squeeze the family into hatchbacks and compact sedans when you can travel in style, in bigger MPVs and SUVs? Our affinity for travelling in large groups, with assorted friends and family in tow, means that six or seven-seater vehicles are what works best for us. Ask the likes of Toyota, Mahindra, Renault, Maruti, and Tata Motors, who have dominated the mass-market 7-seater market for years. But, there’s now a new challenger in town.
Since its launch in 2015, the Hyundai Creta has carved a significant market share in the 5-seater SUV segment. And now, we have the new Alcazar, with its underpinnings based on the Creta, but with seating capacity for up to seven adults. Available in 6- and 7-seater versions, with a choice of 2.0-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines (with 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic transmission options), the Alcazar has been designed for the family that wants a spacious, comfortable, and powerful SUV, at a relatively affordable price.
The Alcazar’s styling is inoffensive, but perhaps a bit bland. The design flair of, say, the Elantra, and the spot-on proportions of the Creta has gone missing here. With the Alcazar, form follows function, no more and no less. The top-end variant rides on chunky, 18-inch alloy wheels that look good (lower-end models get 17-inchers). Other design elements — a substantial front grille, LED headlamps, dark chrome trim, integrated roof rails, and blacked-out pillars — work hard to amp up the style quotient. The Alcazar isn’t the best-looking SUV in its segment, though we think it does look better in darker colours.
The Alcazar’s interiors are as plush and sophisticated as you might expect them to be, with high levels of build quality all around. The seats get dual-tone black/cognac-brown leatherette upholstery, with the dashboard and door pads getting the same treatment. The instrument panel is fully digital, with a 10.25-inch colour display. There’s also a centrally-mounted 10.25-inch HD infotainment touchscreen that’s intuitive and easy to operate. There are physical controls for the AC and the music system, so you don’t have to fiddle with the touchscreen to change the settings for those two crucial (and frequently accessed) functions. The 8-speaker Bose sound system sounds pretty good — we had Bruce Springsteen thundering in the Hyundai’s cabin, and Born In The U.S.A never sounded better.
For motive power, the Alcazar gets two engine options. There’s a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol that makes 158 horsepower and 191Nm of torque, and a 1.5-litre diesel that produces 114bhp and 250Nm of torque. Both are available with 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmissions. We drove the petrol automatic, and were impressed by its performance. The engine feels refined and responsive, with strong power delivery at low and medium revs, which is handy when driving the vehicle in heavy traffic. Out on the highway, the engine continues to impress at higher speeds, and didn’t feel strained at triple-digit speed. The 6-speed automatic seems well matched for the engine, with smooth and effortless shifts that make the Alcazar quite relaxing to drive.
Hyundai claims 14.2kpl for the petrol automatic. However, those who are willing to trade high-revving performance for outright fuel economy may want to consider the diesel (with manual transmission), for which the claimed figure is 20.4kpl. Driving modes on the Alcazar include comfort, eco, and sport. The latter makes a marked difference to the engine’s power delivery; throttle response is more instant, and acceleration from low speeds is stronger. That said, we’d probably leave the Alcazar in comfort or eco modes on long journeys on an expressway, and enjoy the car’s comfortable seats and plush ride quality.
Suspension on this SUV comprises a McPherson strut setup at the front, and a torsion beam axle at the back. This setup has been very well optimised for all kinds of roads, including rough, choppy terrain. The Alcazar is comfortable over bad roads, and remains composed at higher speeds when pushed hard around bends. With disc brakes all around, braking performance is strong, and stays consistent even with repeated hard use. The driving dynamics were excellent overall. Most owners should be happy with this aspect of the Alcazar.
Like the Creta, the Alcazar is front-wheel- drive only. Hence, it’s probably best to not get too ambitious when planning off-road forays in this vehicle. However, it does have dedicated traction control modes for snow, sand, and mud, which would enable it to handle moderate off-road use once in a while. It’s a city slicker at heart, but the Alcazar will live up to its ‘SUV’ billing if you choose to put it in a tough spot. The vehicle scores in terms of its safety kit; there are six airbags, front and rear parking sensors, and a surround- view monitor with a 360-degree camera. There’s also ABS with electronic brake- force distribution, electronic stability control, automatic headlamps, and ISOFIX child seat anchors.
As might be evident from much of the above, the Hyundai Alcazar scores high on the ‘ideal SUV for large families’ report card. It offers a full range of options for things that matter: petrol and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmission, 6- and 7-seater versions, and trim levels to suit a wide range of budgets. The Korean company has paid attention to the little things that improve the ownership experience; for example, the front seats are ventilated (helps on sweltering days), the driver’s seat is 8-way power-adjustable, there are AC vents for second and third-row passengers, there’s wireless smartphone charging plugs, multiple USB ports, and even a smart key that lets you switch on the engine remotely and get the AC going, so the cabin is already cool when you enter it.
Although the Alcazar certainly isn’t the biggest SUV in its segment, it has adequate seating space for six or seven (depending on the variant) adults. Even the third row is all right for shorter journeys. The 180-litre boot space behind the third row is sufficient for regular city use. For longer journeys, the last row can be folded down to create more space for luggage. Hyundai has priced this vehicle right, with the base model (petrol, manual) coming in at Rs 16.30 lakh, with prices going up to Rs 19.99 lakh for the top model (diesel, automatic). If you can live with slightly lower fuel economy levels, we reckon the petrol automatic is the one to go for, which is priced from Rs 17.93-19.84 lakh, ex-showroom.
Hyundai Alcazar (Petrol, Automatic) Engine 1999cc inline-4; Power: 158bhp;
Torque: 191Nm; 0-100kph: NA;
Top Speed: NA;Price: Rs 19.85 lakh, ex-showroom