Over a decade since it created the first flutter in India’s Maruti-land with the Santro, Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor is back again looking for an encore with its smallest and cheapest offering till date — the Eon. The new car is only marginally cheaper than the Santro but aims to deal a blow to Maruti Alto’s 10-year-old grip as India’s preferred entry-level car. Is Hyundai’s four-year labour of love good enough to unsettle an established market leader?
The Eon is an absolutely fresh car and has an inherent advantage in a segment littered with dated models. The exteriors carry forward the carmaker’s new fluidic concept design first seen in the Verna earlier this year.
Be it the swept back-clear headlamps, the two-tonne grille or the half moon-shaped tail lamps, the car resembles the i10, i20 and Verna, albeit in a more compact form. Its dimensions are identical to others in competition though it is wider than everybody else.. It is a small car but does not look like one all the time.
The interior styling of the car is by far the best that this segment offers. The quality of plastic and fit-and-finish is better and it scores high on ergonomics too. The top-end Sportz variant boasts of an integrated 2-Din music system, and driver side airbags. Boot space is large but rear seat comfort is compromised. A bigger bother is the small windows at the back. The seats are comfortable and for once offer substantial thigh support, a factor often sacrificed at the altar of leg space.
Drive and handling
Eon is powered by a new 3-cylinder 814cc engine that belts out 56 bhp power and 76 Nm torque, However, at the outset, this car is primarily meant for city commuting and not designed to win F1 races. The 3-cylinder engine also imparts a higher dose of noise and vibration. The car however, handles very well and is sure footed even at 3-digit speeds.
With an ARAI figure of 21.1 kmpl, Eon takes over from the Alto K10 as the most fuel-economical entry-level car in the country besides the Nano. Small bits of innovation like the use of alternator management system that controls power supply to the battery depending on the load has helped in utilising the engine to the optimum level.
The Eon suffers from one handicap — it does not quite take Alto head on. Spec to spec, the Eon is atleast Rs20,000-40,000 more expensive than the Alto. On the road, the decently packed top-end variant of the car costs around Rs4 lakh. The base variant without an AC and power steering is a sham. It all boils down to whether customers at the bottom of he pyramid are willing to stretch for a more modern, technologically-advanced fuel-economical car. If one looks at what is happening with the M800, history is on Hyundai's side.