We’ve got our hands on Hyundai’s all-new small car, the Eon. And here are our first impressions, from Namyang, of what is a hugely impressive car.
Earlier known by its codename HA, this baby hatch will compete with the likes of the Alto and the A-Star and is expected to take a huge chunk of market share away from Maruti. Heavily sculpted and intricately detailed, the Eon certainly has the looks to accomplish this. The modern Fluidic styling makes it look like anything but a low-cost car. The wheel arches and shoulder line are so complex, you’d have to go all the way up to something like a Mercedes-Benz CLS to see anything similar. There’s a hint of Hyundai’s hexagonal grille up front and the Eon gets attractive headlights with chrome detailing too.
Like all compact Hyundai hatchbacks, the Eon is built around a 2380mm wheelbase. But this car is even shorter in overall length than the Santro, and it’s lighter as well. Clever use of steel with variable thickness makes the Eon both reasonably stiff and light. And at 715-795kg, it is as light as Maruti’s Alto, which is saying something. The insides, which remind you of a well kitted-out i10, are full of clever little shelves and cubbyholes. The car is well equipped too - it sports a CD player, USB audio, remote locking, a shift indicator on the dash and tilt steering.
With the steeply raked windscreen at the front and the short length, space is at a premium. And adding fuel to the fire is the luggage space, which is large for this class of car. The boot, dimensionally similar to the Santro’s, holds 215 litres of luggage. This means knee-room for rear-seat passengers is tight, especially when there’s a tall driver at the wheel.
The upright seating position, though, allows rear-seat passengers to place their feet under the front seats. Thigh support is fairly good and headroom is sufficient as well. The best place to sit, of course, is up front. Space is generous and the seats are reasonably large and supportive.
The Eon is powered by a three-cylinder version of the Santro IRDE engine, and at 814cc and 56bhp, it seems to have a reasonable amount of pep. Hyundai, however, hasn’t managed to get the refinement of the three-cylinder unit right. In the car that we drove, there was some amount of vibration at idle. The motor felt thrummy at times and though it did smoothen up nicely once on the move, the top end felt a bit strained too. However, the motor has plenty of performance from the strong midrange, and the Eon has sufficient power for most city conditions.
Stability was also surprisingly good on our short drive at the Namyang technical centre in Korea, with the Eon feeling agile and keen when turning into corners. With its alternator management system, light weight and efficient engine, Hyundai is claiming 21.1kpl – something that will go a long way in enhancing the appeal of this car. Now all it needs is the right price.