There is no doubt that the Hyundai Eon is the most well-thought-out small car in India. When it was launched three years ago it had so many class-leading features that this little wonder, literally, was eons ahead of the competition. But then such features came at a price, and in a price-sensitive segment, not everyone went ahead and bought the Eon. At the same time, while few found fault with the car’s design, there were some customers who did wish the Eon had a more powerful engine option. In fact, a powerful engine option was needed for the car to come full circle—and finally it has, with Hyundai planting the 1.0-litre Kappa engine into the Eon.
The Eon is the smallest Hyundai car that is made on the company’s now-famous fluidic sculpture design philosophy. In fact, the exterior design is so practical that it is a good thing Hyundai has not changed it until now. The 1.0-litre Eon—which is available only in the Magna+ variant—differentiates itself from the 0.8-litre model only by way of an exterior badging. On the inside, it comes fully-loaded with a factory-fitted audio system that goes well with the multi-layered dashboard. A nice feature is the gear-shift indicator, which prompts you to shift to the right gear at the right speed, helping you achieve optimal gear usage for maximum fuel efficiency. Another functional feature is a low-fuel warning indicator. Additionally, there are plenty of usable cubbyholes, decent (but not class-leading) space, top-notch plastic quality and comfortable seats. It doesn’t get a tachometer, though. Overall, the Eon’s cabin still remains one of the most practical in its class, and looks like it belongs to a more expensive car.
The new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Kappa engine produces a peak power of 68 bhp and a peak torque of 9.6 kgm, both numbers significantly higher than the 0.8-litre Eon’s 55 bhp and 7.6 kgm. This engine is equipped with Dual VTVT, DOHC and lightweight cylinder block, thus delivering a company-claimed mileage of 20.3 kmpl (the 0.8-litre Eon delivers 21.1 kmpl).
Planting a 1.0-litre engine into a light-weight car can produce very good results as far as acceleration is concerned. In the case of the Eon, it is apparent as soon as you fire the engine. First, you don’t feel many vibrations on the gear lever or the steering wheel, or even on the clutch pedal. Then, when you slot into the first gear and let go off the clutch, the car moves ahead in a very spirited manner. Shift into the second gear, press the accelerator pedal and this little wonder simply shoots ahead, or so it seems because you generally don’t associate many small cars with such swiftness. In our test, the 1.0-litre Eon went from 0-100 kmph in about 14 seconds—very quick for its class. Further, it felt planted even at 130 kmph—at least on a straight path. We also found gear-shifts smooth and accurate. The Eon gets the motor-driven electric power steering but doesn’t get tilt steering—so while the power steering is responsive, we did miss the tilt function that can enable you to adjust the steering angle to suit your driving style. The steering is light and suits city-driving conditions, and this further assists in easy manoeuvring and parking in tight spaces.
For Rs 3.83 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Eon 1.0 will compete with cars such as Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 and Datsun Go. While the Kappa engine is a gem and a much-required upgrade, we wish Hyundai also gave the new Eon equipment such as a tachometer, metallic-finish three-spoke steering wheel, tilt steering, and that the company provides airbags at least as an option. Yet if you are looking for a peppy urban runabout, the new Eon is hard to beat. On the whole, with the 1.0-litre engine, the most well-thought-out small car in India has reinvented itself and has come full circle.
PS: I was one of the first few Indians to have driven the Eon during its development phase—at the Hyundai’s Namyang R&D Centre in South Korea in 2011. I loved it then, I love it more now.