Over the six months it’s been with us, our long-term Hyundai Eon has seen quite a bit of action. No, it hasn’t played support car to the Lamborghini Aventador like our Skoda Laura vRS did, nor has it ferried a motley crew of crazed fans to the Buddh F1 track like our Tata Aria has. What it has been used for is rush-hour journeys to work and weekend trips to the market, with the occasional Mumbai–Pune trip thrown in. True, our Eon’s life has been unglamorous, but for a car built to transport people from point A to point B, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
So let’s start with how it took to Mumbai’s streets. Traffic-infested and in terrible shape as they are, the metropolis’ roads serve as a great leveler. You can’t drive a BMW M5 any faster than an Eon here, at least during rush hour, so outright performance doesn’t matter. Even then, at crawling speeds the Eon didn’t feel nice to drive. At low revs, there were a lot of vibrations and the gear lever in particular shook so much it had me worried it might just work itself loose. But more than the vibrations and the thrummy engine note, it was the Eon’s uneven power delivery that really bothered me.
There was a slight interruption in power delivery, most pronounced in first and second gear at low speeds, which would get really frustrating when I’d be trying to make my way past slower traffic. And while the Eon has enough power to drive up your average flyover, it did run out of breath on the long inclines near Lonavala on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. We had to keep shuffling through the notchy gearbox to maintain momentum. At least the clutch was light to operate.
Our highway drives also heightened our dislike for the videogame-like steering. It felt disconnected to the front wheels for the first few degrees of movement, and then suddenly quickened. So, on a long sweeping bend, we were never quite sure of how much lock to give. The steering’s lack
of self-centering movement also took a long time to get used to.
However, despite these flaws, I did quite like the Eon. I liked how it would squeeze into the tightest of parking spots. I liked how easy it was to manoeuvre around the crater-sized potholes that litter Mumbai’s roads. And I also liked the soft edge with which the suspension dispatched low speed bumps. But more than anything else, I liked how the Eon felt more expensive than its price.
And I wasn’t alone in this. My friend almost jumped out of her seat when I told her the Eon costs just Rs 4.57 lakh all up, including registration. Like many others, she couldn’t link funky styling to such a low price. That said, there were also some who found the car overstyled. But I doubt anyone would have problems with the cabin. Good fit and finish on the black and beige plastics make it look quite premium – not a word you’d typically associate with a budget hatchback. The cabin is well thought-out too. The USB and Aux-in ports for the music system are within easy reach, the chunky AC controls are good to use and the large cavity above the glovebox and three bottle holders come in real handy on long drives.
I also found the driver’s seat comfy enough, though I think the fixed headrest is too low to provide sufficient whiplash protection. Even our towering photographer Vishwajeet (he’s 6 feet 3 inches tall) had enough headroom in the front, which is really saying something. He was also pleasantly surprised at how the Eon easily swallowed up his camera gear and a weekend’s worth of luggage with ease. Our car’s internal boot release malfunctioned in its last few days with us so we had to hand over the car’s keys at all security checks, which was an irritant. I didn’t sit in the back seat myself, but save for the odd comment on the restricted visibility out of the small windows, my passengers didn’t have much else to say – I’m taking that as a good thing. I’m also happy to report the aircon was very effective at keeping the cabin cool. My only grouse would be with the small vents that have a very limited spread.
What I had absolutely no problems with was the Eon’s fuel economy. Driving solo, the Eon returned 13.7kpl in the city, which is simply awesome. Apart from the cost of fuel, we didn’t incur any additional expenses on the car because, with just over 5500km on the odo, our Eon was still far from its second service at the 10,000km mark.
So would I recommend this as a buy? Yes. The Eon offers decent space, a nice cabin, is fuel efficient and looks really neat. Were the engine more powerful and the steering less vague, the Eon would have made for an absolutely killer package.
Price: Rs 4.57 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test Economy: 15.4kpl overall
Mantainence Costs: None
Faults: Internal boot release malfunction