Hyundai EON : Detailed Review
- by Vikram Gour
- Nov 18, 2011
- Views : 182007
The entry level hatchback segment has been ruled by Maruti Suzuki for decades and never has a contender arrived on the scene until now. Taking the fight straight to Maruti's bread 'n' butter model, the Alto, is the all-new Hyundai Eon, which not only intends to sweep away the competition, but also redefine the rules of the entry level hatchback segment itself!
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) put our country on wheels when they introduced the little 800 over two decades ago. The 800cc engined Suzuki hatchback literally became a symbol of modern India and went on to have a dream run in terms of sales over the last 25 odd years. The 800 finally made way to the Alto, which also happens to be from the Maruti stable. The Alto was the natural heir to the legacy created by the formidable 800 and over the last couple of years it has proved its mettle by keeping the sales charts on fire and clocking monthly numbers that definitely made the competition jealous.
As a product, the Alto like its predecessor the 800, happened to be extremely functional. There was no design flair and the car didn’t boast of too many creature comforts apart from the basic power steering/power windows option. While it was an extremely well engineered product, the Alto however remained an entry level car that served purpose of being the ultimate four-wheeled commuter offering in the country, but it wasn’t going to turn heads or make a statement. All these aspects didn’t make a difference since the Alto literally had a monopolistic market as the only product offering in the entry level hatchback segment. But the winds of change were already churning and it was only a matter of time before the competition decided to step in to bring about a complete change in the entry level hatchback game.
Stepping up to take on challenge of defeating the formidable Alto at its own game is Hyundai. The Korean manufacturer is probably the only other car company in India that has managed to backbone their entire operations on their small car business. As a company, Hyundai has come a long way and with the grand success of their hatchback models such as the Santro, i10 and i20, it was finally time to take on the toughest hatchback segment of all, the entry level segment.
The objective was obvious yet strikingly challenging. Hyundai essentially had to manufacture a car that looked better than the Alto, offered more creature comfort than the Alto, performed at par with the Alto, offered more space and finally needed to be priced competitively as compared to the Alto. Basically, the Alto’s dominance needed to be challenged from every aspect. Design wasn’t such an issue, especially since the Alto had been around for over a decade. However the rest of the packaging is where Hyundai had to prove true brilliance.
The end result of Hyundai’s efforts resulted in the Eon, and the immediate verdict at the Eon’s debut was that the Alto finally had tough competition heading its way. Following in the latest of Hyundai’s design themes, the Eon is a very good looking hatch. The front grille and bumper feature a neat translation of the aggressive trapezoidal design lines that can now be found on every Hyundai. Flanking the grille on either side are the large swept back headlights that add the final touch to a well crafted front end. When viewed from the side, the Eon is reminiscent of its elder sibling, the i10.
However the designers at Hyundai have taken the liberty to feature a rather robust shoulder that sweeps up towards the rear to give the little hatch a neat sporty touch. Other elements that are visually striking on the Eon are the slightly pronounced wheel arches and the integrated roof spoiler which do their bit to contribute to the overall style statement. Summing up the entire package is a well contoured rear hatch and that stylish half moon shaped tail lamps. One look at the Eon and you will realise that Hyundai didn’t get stingy on design. It’s a head turner in a segment that has been devoid of any modern design and this is aspect is bound to draw takers away from the Alto to the Eon.
Carrying forward the exemplary justice done to the exterior design, Hyundai has ensured that the Eon’s interiors measure up. Having said that, small cars are a tough task for any manufacturer as their primary role is to keep costs down, and therefore materials used have to fit the bill. The Eon is a little plasticky on the inside, but the execution in terms of sculpting the plastic, its fit and finish and overall visual appeal end up taking market expectations up not just by a notch but to a whole new level.
The fabrics used on the door panels and seat trim are also of a decent quality and customers will find no reason to complain. In terms of space, the Eon manages to offer a decent level on this front as well. Thanks to its ‘tall boy’ stance, the inside offers an element of spaciousness that could best be compared to the likes of the Hyundai i10. Seating is comfortable and four adults can easily fit inside; however five would be a bit of a squeeze. The boot offers enough for a family to pack enough away for a nice weekend getaway and there are a host of storage spaces available within the cabin to tuck away those knick-knacks. Once again, the Eon scores against the Alto in terms of design aesthetics, space and functionality when it comes to the interiors.
Powering the Eon is an 814cc three-cylinder petrol engine that makes 56PS @5,500rpm and a decent torque of 74.56Nm @ 4,000rpm. Mated to a five-speed gearbox, the Eon is surprisingly agile and is well suited for city driving and those occasional highway jaunts. The three-cylinder engine does deliver a hint of vibration at idle, but there is no doubting the fact that it is an able performer and refined unit. The little Eon didn’t show a hint of stress while driving around with four adults on board. Leaving all the figures aside, this very aspect is true testimony to how well this vehicle performs in real world conditions. Speaking about the competition, the Eon comes across as more spirited than the Alto, but this doesn’t extend to the Alto K10 which is powered by a larger 1-litre engine.
Hyundai has made efforts to ensure that the Eon delivers on both ride and handling. The soft suspension set-up offers a smooth ride experience to those on board and the light motor driven electronic power steering makes it an easy task to maneuver through city streets. It can easily be said that the Eon offers a ride quality that is best in class. The 145/80 R12 tubeless tyres on the lower models or 155/70 R13 tubeless tyres on the higher models also play their part in offering a comfortable ride, but since they are limited by size, it’s best to be cautious while driving on bumpy roads.
In terms of gizmos and gadgets, the Eon is available in a fully loaded avatar. Hyundai has pulled all stops on this front and you will be delighted with the amount of kit on board. For your music needs and connectivity there is the 2-DIN stereo system with two front speakers and those ever useful aux/USB ports. To add to your convenience the front windows are powered, there is a remote fuel and boot lid opener and to add to these the driver gets a tilt steering, internally adjustable ORVMs, and a gear shift indicator. Safety features haven’t been overlooked and the Eon is offered with a driver’s side airbag, seatbelts and a reinforced body shell that can withstand quite an impact.
No matter which way you look at it, the Eon has managed to achieve what many have set out to do. It truly is the first car that has all the elements in place to take on the mighty Alto. Hyundai’s engineering prowess, determination and ever improving production skills are highlighted through this product. The Eon is a surprise that you really enjoy receiving and the beauty of the entire package is that Hyundai has managed to price it bang on target. Its the ultimate value-for-money option in its category and the only reason I can think of not wanting to buy an Eon if I happen to be an entry level segment customer is if I was adamant on having a faster car, namely the Alto K10.