Hyundai Alcazar long term review, first report


They say first impressions stick. I still remember looking into the cabin of the Alcazar for the first time and going wow. Hyundai clearly has carried out a massive perceived quality upgrade. While the basic structure remains similar to that of the Creta, new tan ‘leather’ inserts, piano black panels and chrome highlights elevate quality levels in the cabin considerably. That’s not all. It also comes loaded with a laundry list to please Indian car buyers. And then, since this has a long wheelbase, there’s also loads more space on offer. So the Alcazar clearly hits the target and delivers a very strong first impression.

Chrome highlights and tan faux leather do add bling.

Hyundai has even specified it well. This is particularly true of this 2.0-litre petrol-automatic. Now, on paper, the spec may look a bit humdrum. The naturally aspirated engine gets no direct injection and no turbocharger. And then the automatic gearbox is nothing special either, just a regular 6-speed torque convertor-equipped auto; no CVT or a twin-clutch gearbox here. What impresses from the get-go, however, is that this pair seem perfectly suited to the job and superbly tuned. This is especially true in city traffic, where our new long-termer spends the majority of its days. A combination of factors is responsible. The 2.0-litre petrol engine is nice and responsive to begin with, it has a fair amount of pulling power in the bottom end and mid-range, the torque converter gearbox is smooth and jerk free and refinement levels on this engine are also very good. Put all these together and you have a car that responds smartly to a tap on the throttle. This long car even drives reasonably well in traffic. The steering, as ever, is smooth and direct, the pedals function in a crisp lag-free manner and then look to overtake and the engine and gearbox respond well when you put your foot flat on the throttle. So commuting in the city is no sweat.

360-degree and front and rear view cameras help when it comes to tight spaces.

Hyundai has even made the size relatively easy to live with. I especially love the 360-degree camera’s clarity and ease of use, an essential safety and convenience tool when parking the Alcazar. It’s invaluable in tight spaces and takes so much of the stress out of manoeuvring in the city.

The Alcazar is also fairly accomplished as a travel companion. One of the first things I did with the Alcazar was to take it on a holiday. While 6-seaters like this one allow second-row passengers to enjoy armchair-like comfort, you still have to resolve the passengers versus luggage dilemma when you travel. Space for the third row, after all, is all but ‘stolen’ from the boot. In fact, with five passengers in the cabin, and only one of the third-row seats folded down, boot space is no better than a hatchback. And what makes it worse is that you have to carry luggage for five passengers. Getting the luggage in clearly is a tight squeeze, and that’s after having forewarned my co-passengers to pack light.   

With extra seats added, luggage space is at a premium.

Out on the highway and at speed, the Alcazar doesn’t feel quite as at home. Stability is decent and you don’t need too many corrections on the wheel, but the Alcazar on its extra-long wheelbase also doesn’t particularly like to turn. There’s an awkwardness to the manner in which it turns in, handling feels soggy when you drive faster and then if you load it with passengers and luggage, it only feels less happy.

Use your indicators early and no bike or car will stay hidden in your blind spot.

While the Alcazar’s features list is impressive and it truly feels lavishly equipped, I miss features like wireless Apple CarPlay (or Android Auto); a big miss. It just makes for a seamless experience, especially with wireless charging... there really is no substitute. Then, though the Alcazar has connected tech, it doesn’t offer as much as the competition, straight off the bat. Real-time traffic isn’t as easy to see on Hyundai’s maps, there’s no pre-installed music streaming app that you can access right away and then despite fiddling with the audio settings endlessly, I can’t always find a setting I’m happy with on the Bose audio system.

Big sunroof heats up the cabin when the sun beats down; more insulation in glass needed.

However, I love the knurled volume control knob, the big sunroof, though responsible for a greenhouse like effect during the day, is great to open at night, and despite the creaky centre console, I’m still impressed with the levels of quality and finish inside the cabin. It isn’t good at everything it does, but it does pamper you really well. More on Hyundai’s fascinating 6 or 7-seater in upcoming issues.

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