As we mentioned in our recent first drive of the Grand i10, Hyundai Lanka are on a mission to establish a serious presence in the high volume 2-4 Million Rupee price bracket and they have two products that are aiming to do this. The upper end is handled by the i10 while the 2-3 million category will be the home ground of this car, the Eon.
Unlike its bigger sibling the Eon does not have a euro version and it is sold only in developing markets, so the designers focused on making it as rugged and economical as possible. The exterior styling reflects this, being simple and conservative without any unusual touches. The Hyundai corporate look is still noticeable with the front end bearing a resemblance to larger models like the Accent and Elantra. Ground clearance is good, an important factor on our roads.
The interior is rather less impressive than the i10s, reflecting the 1 plus million rupee price difference, but the Eon is still more than competitive with its direct rivals in appearance, fit and finish with the plastic quality in particular feeling significantly better than what you get in Altos and the like. The dashboard has a prominent centre stack with the 2 DIN stereo and AC controls mounted high and within easy reach while the instrument panel has large dials and is easy to take in at a glance. The seats are acceptable for the category although a lack of lower back support becomes noticeable after an extended period of time. Space front and rear is quite good for the size, the Eon claims to be among the most spacious in it’s class and based on our first impressions we wouldn’t disagree. Interior build quality is good and rough roads threw up no unpleasant squeaks or rattles whatsoever.
Under the hood of the Eon is an 814cc three cylinder motor which drives the front wheels through a five speed manual gearbox. The clutch is light and the shift action is smooth and quite precise, making this a very easy car to drive smoothly. The electrically assisted power steering is finger light and the turning circle is small too, all of which combine to make town running superbly easy. The little 3 pot is a willing companion on the road, though you need to use every one of it’s 55 BHP to move anywhere close to quickly. Thankfully it doesn’t mind being revved to the redline and in fact seems to quite enjoy it, which is not something that can be said for most cars this size.
On the ride and handling front the Eon proves to be competent in general, but it definitely isn’t a star performer like the i10. For this you can blame the fact that there was no Euro influence when it was being designed, since the main focus was India and similar markets. The finger light steering which is such a benefit in town doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when you are pushing it and anyway the tiny 155/70 R13 tyres start squealing in protest if you so much as think about entering a corner at anything above 30-40 KM/h. Clearly this is not a small car designed to be chucked around on a twisty road. The focus of this car is obviously on being rugged and economical and if you drive it sensibly Hyundai claims that 18-20 KM/l is possible, which is certainly quite impressive.
The Eon as driven here retails for 2,390,000/= on the road and for the price you get central locking, front power windows, air conditioning and a dual DIN head unit with USB & Aux Input. Unfortunately airbags are not available, neither is ABS, which is the same story you get with key rivals too. The Maruti-Suzuki Alto K10 and the Renault KWID are the direct rivals for the Eon, though it is priced very slightly higher than them. The segment it is entering is ultra competitive, but on first impressions at least, the Eon has the right mix of all round ability to be taken very seriously.
WORDS: Sajiv Weerakoon
IMAGES: Vihan Herath