Post the pandemic when it is time to travel again, undoubtedly the best (and safest) way to do so will be to drive down yourself. Almost as if helping you plan the next roadtrip, Hyundai has launched the seven-seater Alcazar that can fit three generations of your family.
The Alcazar is based on the Creta’s platform, which some might take as a cue to crack fat jokes. Yes, it does look like the Creta’s elder cousin who has spent a tad too much time on the couch than on the treadmill. But look closely, and you will notice a design that is not only evolved, but also gives the Alcazar a distinct identity.
Where the second-gen Creta’s polarising design reminds you of a punk rocker, the Alcazar comes across as a gentleman in a broadcloth suit and a top hat. Similarities aside, the Alcazar’s design feels evolved and mature. The Creta-like front gets a lot more character thanks to the larger chrome grille with the cascading effect.
It’s the same story at the rear, where gone are the Creta’s quirky C-shaped LED tail-lamps. Instead, you get more traditional-looking (no complaints) wraparound tail lamps. The designers though couldn’t help but a bit of bling in the form of a chrome strip sporting the hard-to-miss ‘A-L-C-A-Z-A-R’ name.
Seen from the side, the Alcazar looks like a Creta that’s been pulled limb from limb. Hyundai has stretched the wheelbase to the very extreme (by 150mm) in order to accommodate the third row of seats. But what’s impressive is how that extra bit doesn’t seem like it’s been glued to the older car. The whole package looks proportionate.
Plush mini bus
A similar level of maturity is seen on the inside as well. Depending on the variant you choose, you either get an all-blacked or a dual-tone cognac brown dashboard. Needless to say the latter looks the more premium of the two, though we can’t help but feel impressed and disappointed by one design choice.
At first glance, the dual-tone variants seem to feature hand stitched leather upholstery on the dashboard and the doors. But when you touch it is when you realise that it is plastic. We admit, it is not cheap plastic, and the detailing that has gone into it is impressive. But someone spending close to ₹20 lakhs for the car would definitely appreciate the real leather feel, and not just the look.
Apart from that, the Alcazar interiors feel like a good place to be in. The fit and finish of the panels are sturdy, and there didn’t seem to be any loose bits. All the buttons and knobs are easily reachable. And yes, we can’t tell you enough how happy it makes us to see volume and AC knobs, and not touchpads or sliders.
The front and middle row seats are comfortable with decent underthigh support. The front seats are ventilated, which is a boon in cities like Mumbai. For those being chauffeured, the captain seats are super comfy. They can recline, but you can’t help but miss Kia Carnival-esque leg extensions. There is an airplane-like tray when you want to convert the car into a mobile office, and a central console alongside, with cupholders and a wireless charging slot.
Hyundai is offering a choice between captain seats or a bench for the second row, making the Alcazar a six or a seven-seater. Getting in and out of the third row is a breeze thanks to the one-touch tip and tumble function of the captain seats. At the back, you get dedicated AC vents with buttons to control the intensity, and your own USB-A ports. But what you don’t get is space, unless you are ready to chop off a bit of your leg.
When it comes to the features list, the Koreans are known to throw everything but the kitchen sink, and it is the case with the Alcazar as well. In fact, so long is the list that the last 30 minutes of Hyundai’s media presentation was dedicated to features only.
The 10.25in infotainment system is now standard across all variants, and the high-res screen is crisp and legible even on bright days when you’re wearing dark shades. The UI is smooth, and the touch response is snappy. Even the driver-side digital instrument panel is sleek with classy visuals. The whole vibe is more European, and less Japanese anime. You can change the theme along with the driving modes, and the animation is super silky. Let’s just all agree that the days of analogue dials are over.
Connected tech has become an almost basic requirement these days, and the Alcazar has this covered. There is support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – but not wireless. The BlueLink app lets you stay connected to the car even when you’re away, letting you remotely start the engine and even switch on the ACs to have the cabin pre-cooled.
We aren’t sure what it says of the current generation that just loves to speak to machines, be it their phones, speakers, and even cars. The Alcazar greets you when you step into the car, and you can ‘speak’ back via BlueLink. A long list of features on the car can be controlled via voice commands. In all fairness, the overall usability of voice controls in a car is still open for discussion. It doesn’t always work, and more often than not, doing things the old way is faster. When it works though, it is fun, but when it doesn’t it just feels gimmicky.
For audio, there’s a Bose system onboard that includes eight speakers. You get a balanced experience by default that can be tweaked to your preference with the built-in EQ. As has become standard for cars of this size, you get front and rear parking sensors, and two of our favourite features are also to do with driver’s assistance – surround view and blind view monitors.
The former shows you a 360 degree view of the car, which is extremely useful when trying to maneuver in tight spaces. The blind view monitor is even more helpful, and has spoiled us if we’re being honest. Every time you switch on the turn indicator, the instrument panel shows a live feed of what’s coming up your blind side. We’ve lost count of how many two-wheelers we saw sneaking up near the car when taking a turn.
The Alcazar gets a 2.0 petrol engine that puts out 159bhp and 191Nm of torque. There’s also a 1.5L diesel engine putting out 115bhp and 250Nm of torque. Both engines are mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox. For the test, we took the 1.5L diesel AT variant in its top-spec Signature variant.
While Alcazar is Spanish for castle, the car doesn’t feel like one when driving. It is at home when cruising on open highways, and the long wheelbase and stiff body gives you confidence at high speeds. Ground clearance isn’t an issue, and the car was able to easily manage to cushion the bumps and speed breakers during our day out.
Despite the size, the Alcazar is equally comfortable to drive in city traffic. The diesel engine is quite sprightly when you need to quickly jump off the line or make quick overtakes. When you put your foot down, the engine sounds a bit loud and throaty like a vacuum cleaner, and not the high-end Dyson kinds. NVH levels are kept in check most of the time, especially at low and cruising speeds. It’s only when you push the car that it loses its composure a bit.
The Creta continues to rule the sales charts, and Hyundai already seems to have another winner on its hands. Creta comparisons aside, the Alcazar has a lot going for it in terms of the proportionate design with the added seats, driveability, and the long list of features. It is bound to leave a lasting impression on buyers, and will sell like crazy this coming festive season. Time to start planning your next Goa road trip.