Without spoiling too much of the imminent surprise, Hyundai invited us to witness a “close to production” version of their brand-new mid-size 7 seater, the Alcazar.
Based on the best-selling Creta’s platform, the Alcazar gets a whole new identity of its own but the similarities are more than obvious when you come face to face with it. Although the front looks similar, the grille is larger with more intricate chromework.
The rear overhang adds a large quarter glass for the third row and around the back, new LED tail lights and the letters A-L-C-A-Z-A-R boldly finish off design changes. It’s admittedly more plush, more comfortable and a lot more painstakingly “crafted” as a 67-slide presentation shed light on Hyundai’s state-of-the-art Chennai manufacturing plant that rolls out a new car every 31 seconds! That’s faster than I can tie my shoelaces, so we have to take this car seriously. It’s a masterstroke of packaging really that with a wheelbase of 2760mm (150mm longer than Creta), they have managed to make the Alcazar look proportionate, yet include a third row of seats complete with their own cooling system and USB-A charging ports on each side. The quick tip and tumble second row is delightfully easy to use if you have to access the third row, something that should increase its usage in the real world. While the last row is indeed tight, especially with the second row reclined and pushed back, it’s meant to be a quick fix to ferry the entire family together on short hauls within the city. The second row is available either with either a bench or captain seats, making the Alcazar a 6 or 7-seat option.
While there will be two engine options at launch, I drove the all-new 2.0L, 159hp naturally aspirated petrol motor mated to the 6-speed manual gearbox and what struck me instantly was the linearity of its power delivery and the flat torque curve, making it effortless to drive around the city or highway. It pulls smoothly all the way to 6900rpm without any sign of protest or vibration, the suspension soaking up everything in its path and giving it a regal ride even on the sizeable 18in wheels. 15 minutes is all I got with the car so this impression is based around a B-road around the hills of Rajasthan and within that time, the Alcazar made a strong impression as an outstanding people carrier. For the chauffeur driven, the second row is supremely comfortable even over broken roads and the seats themselves have generous underthigh support and decent cushioning. In the front row, the seats get ventilation and while much of it is like the Creta, there are minor changes that I’m not allowed to comment on just yet. Hyundai claims to have put in a lot of thought and effort behind making the manufacturing process “premium” too and the result of that is a quiet cabin, buttery-smooth steering feel, minimal body roll and a sense of rigidity that is definitely welcome. Since the test mule wasn’t the final production spec, I’d refrain from commenting on the interior quality and feature list for now, but if this first impression is anything to go by, the Alcazar is set to light up the sales charts in the segment come festive season.