Why would I buy it?
- Comfortable and practical interior
- Long list of features
Up until recently the ‘5+2’ SUV market in the Rs 15-20 lakh bracket has pretty much been on the wane. The only real option that the buyers had is the Mahindra XUV500 which has gotten a bit too long in the tooth. Fast forward to 2021 and this little segment has expanded big time, pushing Hyundai India to burst on to the scene with the new Alcazar.
We have already driven the petrol automatic Alcazar with the 2-litre naturally aspirated engine (click here for our first impressions) and now it’s time to test out the diesel automatic featuring the familiar 1.5-litre engine from the Creta.
Why would I avoid it?
- Inadequate performance under full load
- Stiff low speed ride
Engine and Performance
The diesel Alcazar range is priced well and is also better equipped than the Tata Safari and the MG Hector Plus. However, its on-paper proposition takes a hit when you take a look at the engine specs. The 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel makes 115bhp and 250Nm and even though Hyundai says they have worked on the gear ratios and the tune to compensate for the added weight, there is no escaping the lack of punch at times.
For those looking for strong performance under full load, this engine and gearbox combination is not the Alcazar’s finest feature - it would have made for a better buy with more pulling power and a more inspiring gearbox. However, get familiar with the torque converter and you will indeed realise that it’s a smooth combination. This diesel engine is no powerhouse but for everyday driving it’s more than adequate. It’s responsive off the line and potent enough to keep you up with traffic. There is a manual mode with paddle shifters on this gearbox which gives you more control and makes spirited driving somewhat rewarding.
All in all, the Alcazar diesel auto isn’t the punchiest SUV in its class but in urban conditions when the drivetrain isn’t under pressure, it’s extremely smooth and efficient. In our performance tests the Alcazar posted average numbers, completing the 0-100kmph sprint in 12.10 seconds and taking 18.17 seconds to hit 120kmph. As for roll-on acceleration using kick-down, 20-80kmph took 6.73 seconds and 40-100kmph was equally average paced at 9.12 seconds.
Interior Space and Comfort
Hyundai knows a thing or two about cabin designs and it’s pretty evident as you step inside the Alcazar. It’s classy, nicely appointed and overall feels premium for the money. There is soft-touch padding everywhere, supplemented by quality silver trim highlights around the air vents, door pads and the center console. The dual tone dash is finished in black and a nice shade of brown and it complements the fit and finish of this cabin which is noticeably better than the competition. Like the petrol auto version, the cabin layout has been mostly carried over from the Creta, however, that’s not a bad thing at all because we like the Creta’s interiors.
As for the front seats, they are comfortable and offer ample under-thigh and lateral support. Both get cooling function and the driver’s seat gets an electric adjustment too. The visibility on offer is really good thanks to the relatively slim A-pillars and the low-set dash. Adding to this roomy feel is the massive panoramic sunroof that the Alcazar gets. Here we have the six seater version with captain chairs in the middle row and they are extremely comfortable with adequate under thigh support. Given that one can slide the middle row forward and backwards, legroom is not an issue at all though the most impressive thing about the Alcazar’s cabin is the second row accommodation.
Hyundai has made sure that middle seat passengers are treated with business class-like comfort levels – besides the comfy captain chairs you also get a center console between them with some amenities like cup holders and even a wireless charging pad. Then there’s soft cushions linked to the headrests which add to the overall seat comfort. Rounding off the list of unique features, middle row occupants also get fold out tables, ambient lighting and window blinds.
The biggest differentiator between the Alcazar and the Creta is that the former is a 5+2. So how does it fare? Well it’s a typical 5+2 arrangement which means it’s not the most spacious third row and is good for short journeys at best although you do get dedicated air con vents with blower controls and USB ports as well. The access to the third row is surprisingly easy and once you are seated, the backrest can be adjusted for recline as well which makes things somewhat better when you have to go the distance.
Ride and Handling
Given that it’s based on the Creta, we were expecting good dynamics from the Alcazar and we are happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint. The ride and handling setup is quite user friendly which is typical of a family SUV. What this also means is that the Alcazar is not going to set your world on fire if you decide to chuck it through some corners – the steering is light but the feel is inconsistent off center and it only gets worse as you apply more lock. There is also more body roll than what you would expect.
On the plus side, the Alcazar retains the Creta’s high levels of refinement over bad roads – road noise is minimal and the suspension remains rather quiet as it irons out jittery surfaces. What’s worth noting is that the Alcazar feels slightly stiffer than the Creta but it’s never to the point that it’s uncomfortable.
Features and Equipment
Like every other high-end Hyundai model, the Alcazar is loaded with features all the way till its roof rails. Besides all the essential features, you get a massive panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, dual wireless charging pads, ambient lighting, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera, six airbags, ESP, hill hold and so much more. The highlight though is the fully digital 10.25-inch instrument cluster featuring multiple interfaces and sharp graphics overall.
It also displays visuals from the lane change cameras mounted on the wing mirrors. The image quality is superb and the feature itself is so convenient we wish more mainstream carmakers would introduce it in their high-end models. The main touchscreen infotainment system, identical to that in the Creta, is quick to respond and offers a crisp UI. The audio quality from the Bose audio system is impressive, too.
There is so much to like about the Alcazar diesel automatic once you look beyond the mediocre power output. On the whole, it doesn't have much to offer to the keen driver within us but it makes a great choice as a family car. While the Safari has the brand value and the Hector Plus scores high on connectivity tech, the Alcazar perfectly ticks off two major preferences of buyers in this space – comfort-based features and that all-important feel good factor. It looks upmarket, feels likewise inside and has plenty of space for a family of six. A pleasant ride quality and high levels of refinement only add to the convenience and make the Alcazar a great all-rounder.
Priced between Rs 16.50 lakh and Rs 20 lakh ex-showroom for the diesel range, the Alcazar is also great value considering that the top-end variant undercuts the Safari XZA+ and is priced similar to the MG Hector Plus and the XUV500. By that reckoning the Alcazar seems to have a clear road ahead to become yet another success story for Hyundai India.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi