Hyundai’s Alcazar: A fitting answer to space and design

Hyundai’s new three-row SUV is by far the easiest to drive in this segment and its relatively small dimensions are a positive here

Alcazar, Hyundai’s new three-row SUV is derived from the brand’s bestseller, the Creta. While the similar face and overall design are plain to see, Hyundai has done a lot to differentiate it from its 5-seat counterpart — the Alcazar is longer, sits on a lengthier wheelbase, is taller, and has more ground clearance. It also gets a larger petrol engine and some impressive additions to an already lengthy equipment list. So, is the SUV worth the premium pricing?

While the Alcazar does appear similar to the Creta at the front, there are some changes. The brushed-metal-finished grille with block-like inserts is unique to the SUV, while lower down you’ll find larger, chrome-encased fog lamps and a different scuff plate. Handsome 18-inch alloy wheels, again a size up, help with the SUV stance, as do a set of metallic running boards under the doors.

Aft of the B-pillar is where it is all new. The roof is taller, with more headroom in the third row, and though this erodes the Creta’s spot-on SUV proportions, the profile is not as van-like as some others. There is still a thick character line on the rear haunch that leads to the new tail-lamps, which, while not as polarising as the Creta’s, are not particularly interesting either. They are joined by a chrome strip embossed with the word ‘Alcazar’, and here too, the bumper and scuff plate are slightly different.

In terms of dimensions, the Alcazar is the smallest of the three-row midsize SUVs, though its 2,760mm wheelbase is the longest in the segment and helps liberate space within the cabin.

Up front, the cabin has a few differences over the Creta. The cabin is finished in tan colour upholstery, the dashboard too features tan inserts, the gear lever and steering wheel have a perforated effect, and Hyundai has also used more brushed silver and gloss black trim to uplift the cabin ambience. Fit and finish are good, but despite all the colours and embellishments, it is not quite in the league of the bigger Tucson.

Hyundai Alcazar specifications

    The front seats are big, superbly cushioned and ventilated on the top models. You get power adjustment for the driver’s seat and great forward visibility. The 10.25-inch touchscreen is standard on all models, but new here is the full-digital instrument cluster, which looks and feels incredibly premium. In fact, the displays change according to the drive modes, and it even incorporates the display for a blind spot monitoring system.

    Moving rearwards, the captain’s seats in the middle row are aimed at the chauffeur driven, and to that end, there’s a centre console between them that’s replete with an armrest, cupholders and even a second wireless phone charger! The seats seem to mirror the ones at the front, albeit, with soft cushions attached to the headrests. However, they aren’t quite as comfortable. They’re placed lower to the floor and you don’t get as much thigh support as you’d like. Still, with the last row unoccupied, you can slide them all the way back and recline them.

    Space in the last row is not as vast as in some rivals but it’s not a punishment post either. You don’t have to curl up into a foetal position to sit here, and headroom too is more than sufficient. You get USB ports, cup holders, as well as AC vents with their own blower control. Access is also relatively easy — thanks to the short climb up and the one-touch flip-fold mechanism for the middle row on both sides, even on the 7-seater. That being said the Alcazar should best be considered an occasional 6 or 7-seater, not a regular-use one.

    The Alcazar is also loaded with equipment carried over from the Creta, along with new additions. Shared bits include the 10.25-inch touchscreen, connected-car tech, ventilated front seats, a wireless phone charger, Bose sound system, air purifier, drive and traction modes, LED headlamps and the big panoramic sunroof, while new addition are the full-digital instrument cluster, 64-colour ambient lighting, puddle lamps, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, a second wireless charger for the middle row and a 360-degree surround camera array.

    Coming to the engines, Alcazar has 2.0-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel variants.

    The diesel engine feels adequate in the Alcazar, as it did in the Creta, provided the car is not fully loaded up. It is incredibly refined and will pick up speed from standstill quite ably. The smooth 6-speed torque-converter ’box in our test car was smart enough to know precisely when the engine needs a downshift, though it does hesitate and feel a little jerky at some extremely slow speeds at very low RPMs.

    Once in its stride, this powertrain chugs along smoothly and silently, making for an able — if not strong — highway cruiser. However, it is when we loaded the Alcazar up with five passengers and attempted to climb a hill that it started to feel out of its depth. Downshifts were frequent and the motor felt strained, so this is something to bear in mind if you frequently do long trips with the extended family.

    The petrol-automatic, on the other hand, makes a stronger case for itself. Performance feels more effortless than in the diesel, and it is even better at hauling loads with ease. You might miss that mid-range whack of a turbocharger, but you never feel like you are short on torque. The 6-speed torque-converter here, too, is smooth and eager with its shifts, though not as aggressively as we’ve seen in earlier Hyundais.

    The Alcazar, in true Hyundai style, prioritises ease of driving over all else. The steering isn’t sharp, weighty or feelsome, but is instead easy to twirl for parking and darting through traffic. In fact, of all the cars in this class, this one is by far the easiest to drive and its relatively small dimensions are a positive here.

    The soft suspension does give the Alcazar a nice cushy ride quality, and though a bumpy road will move its occupants around a little bit, it definitely falls more into the plusher end of the ride quality spectrum. However, the larger alloys and shorter tyre sidewalls do make things a little fidgetier over rough patches of road. Another thing to note is that the Alcazar diesel’s steering and suspension feel a tad stiffer than the petrol’s, which feels a lot lighter on its feet.

    Hyundai offers the Alcazar in just three trim levels, priced between ₹16.30 lakh and ₹20 lakh (ex-showroom), and they are all well equipped. Distribute that across two engines, four gearboxes and two seating configurations, and you get 14 variants to choose from in a ₹4 lakh price range. If you view this as merely a larger Creta, it sounds expensive, but when viewed in the context of its main rivals, the pricing is spot on.

    The Alcazar can hold its own in a segment of larger SUVs. Space does come at a premium, but that they’ve managed to do it in a relatively compact and easy-to-drive SUV is commendable. The diesel engine is, for once, probably not the better choice in an SUV, and provided you can stomach the fuel bills, the 2.0-litre petrol is definitely the way to go.

    The Hyundai Alcazar, then, scores not so much as an out-and-out people hauler, but better as a more premium alternative to the Creta that is better suited to chauffeuring someone around in the second row; and the occasional family outing with six or seven. The effort that’s gone into differentiating it from its 5-seat sibling, be it in design, engine, interiors or equipment, is worth the extra outlay. And for many, especially those in a primarily urban environment, it could be just what they were waiting for.

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