Hyundai’s Eon ~ Greatest Vehicles

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hyundai’s Eon




The wraps are finally off the sub-Santro that Hyundai has been working on for a long time now. It’s called the Eon and it has all the makings of a game changer; after all what Hyundai has in sights is India’s best-selling car - the Maruti Suzuki Alto. Hyundai’s India story began with a hatchback but sales of the ageing Santro have been sliding and though the i10 is doing well, Hyundai lacks a direct rival to the Alto. That’s the task of the Eon.
The styling is definitely going to win over buyers. Hyundai has applied its fluidic design philosophy to good effect with the front end taking cues from the new Verna and i10. The headlamps in fact are more elaborately designed than any Hyundai we have seen to date and the massive front wheelarch adds lots of visual bulk to the nose. The side profile shows a prominent shoulder line that originates from the headlamp, swoops up along the rear window line and melds into the taillamps. The massive taillights that look like they’ve been modelled on Batman’s throwing stars and the overall effect is extremely eye-catching. That it will find favour with a million buyers is without doubt, however to the purist Hyundai does seem to have gone overboard with the styling.

On the engine front Hyundai have finally jumped onto the 3-cylinder bandwagon. The Eon sports a 814cc petrol engine similar to the Santro and i10’s 1.1-litre iRDE four-cylinder with one cylinder lopped off. Peak power is 56PS developed at 5500rpm, 9PS more than the Alto (47PS). Peak torque is 76.5Nm at 4000rpm (Alto, 62Nm). The Alto, kerb weight of 690kg, is however lighter than the Eon by 35kilos.  
At 3495mm the Eon is the same length as the Alto. However it is 75mm wider at 1550mm. It’s 35mm taller as well at 1500m. Wheelbase also pips the Alto's by 20mm at 2380mm. In fact the Eon has the longest wheelbase and is the widest car in its class.  There’s a generous 211-litre boot as well.
We drove the top variant, the Sportz, Hyundai’s Chennai test track but there are plans for several variants. The images you see here are the official ones provided by Hyundai. The choice will range from the base model - no aircon or power steering - to the fully loaded Sportz - a stereo with aux/USB, power steering, front power windows and a driver’s airbag, no ABS though.
The interiors employ a smart combination of beige and black plastics and silver accents. The cabin has abundant headroom but lack of leg room in the rear makes it feel a bit cramped. But the Alto is even more cramped in the rear. The seats feel soft but provide good lumbar and decent thigh support. There are plenty of India-specific features like a scooped out storage tray on the top of the dash and one-litre bottle holders in the doors. The Sportz runs 13-inch steel wheels with plastic covers and 155/70 section tyres. We hear that the lower variants will run 12-inch wheels instead.

The Eon is an easy and friendly car to drive. Its steering is light with a consistent feel. The engine has the de rigueur three cylinder thrum and vibration at idle manifests in the juddering gear knob. Things smoothen out once you rev the engine a bit. Low down torque is decent like most small Hyundais and the Eon pulls from 40kmph in fifth without fuss.
The ride is supple and the Eon soaks up minor to moderate bumps well. Hyundai claim an ARAI-certified 21.1kmpl to the Alto K-10’s 20.2kmpl.

The Eon is slated for launch around Diwali. We expect pricing to range from Rs 3.2 to Rs 3.5 lakh, Rs 20,000-odd below the Santro and a similar amount more than the Alto. With the dramatic styling, interiors, adequate space and efficient engine it looks like the Eon could seriously threaten the Alto's reign as the best-selling car in the country.

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