For buyers impressed by the Eon’s looks but put off by its underwhelming 0.8-litre engine, Hyundai has just introduced a new variant of the car. It’s got Hyundai’s larger 1.0-litre Kappa engine that comes with the promise of giving the Eon more go. The engine is a 998cc, three-cylinder unit with a fair amount of technology onboard — it’s got DOHC to operate its 12 valves and also variable valve timing for the intake and exhaust valves. The net result is 68bhp and 9.6kgm, both figures significantly higher than the 0.8 Eon’s 55bhp and 7.6kgm.
The benefits of the heart transplant are perceptible the moment you fire up the engine. Compared to the standard Eon, idle on this version is a lot smoother, there are no irritating vibrations on the gear lever and this one’s a wee bit quieter too. The new engine makes an even bigger impression once you ease off the clutch and get moving. There’s none of that low rpm jerkiness of the 0.8, rather, you’d find power delivery to be crisp and pulling power to be quite good too. It’s not as peppy as, say a Datsun Go, but it’s more than upto the job of comfortably propelling the Eon to speed. A light, if slightly springy, clutch and reasonably smooth-shifting five-speed gearbox round this off as a car well suited to urban driving.
Just wish Hyundai had worked on the steering too. While adequately light and easy to twirl, it just doesn’t weigh up enough at higher speeds. In addition to this, the soft suspension and basic chassis don’t do the Eon any favours either. As a result, the Eon tends to pitch and roll about at speeds above 80kph or so and this marks it down as a car for long distances. But stick to city speeds and the Eon will satisfy you with its ability to smoothen bumps, and quietly at that.
Leading the list of other things to like about the Eon is its cabin. Smartly thought out and very well finished, the cabin looks like it belongs to a more expensive car. Front seat comfort is good (though the headrests are a tad short) and all controls fall easy to hand. However, space in the back is just average even for this class of car and some may even find the back rest a bit too reclined for comfort. No complaints for the boot though which can take in quite a bit of luggage.
Hyundai sells the Eon 1.0 in a single variant – Magna + - and it comes with front power windows, keyless entry and internally adjustable rear view mirrors. A fully integrated music system with USB and aux input is also available as a paid option. But there’s no steering adjust or tachometer.
On the outside, there’s little to give this away as the larger-hearted of the Eons. In fact, some badging apart, the mildly different design of the wheel covers is your only clue to this being the 1.0. Styling, as before, is quite radical and very different from other cars of this price. Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it.
On the whole, the Eon 1.0 comes across as a very convincing proposition, something the standard Eon is not. Courtesy the new engine, it’s a lot more rounded than before. It still gets you the smart cabin and makes you feel you’ve got more than your money’s worth. If the lacklustre driving experience and limited rear seat space aren’t deal breakers for you, the Eon 1.0, priced at Rs 3.83 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) could make a very sensible choice as an urban runabout.