The Hyundai Eon is the car that the Korean manufacturer has built to take on India’s favorite small vehicle, the Suzuki Alto. The design brief for the Eon is pretty simple: Make it simple, make it light. To this end, Hyundai took the i10, lopped 50mm off the roof, the sides and the ends of it, and stuffed everything right back in. Then a bunch of engineers went over the car with blowtorches and cut out everything they didn’t want. Four engine mounts too many? Cut one out! Exhaust hangers? Don’t need more than one, cut them out! Front suspension sub-frame? Cut it out! Cut it all out!
There hasn’t been a road car this obsessed with weight since the Lotus Elise. Even the tires are smaller, in the interest of saving weight. The resulting supermini is some 200kg lighter than the i10, while still sporting slightly more legroom and a deeper trunk, thanks to
This tiny car is wrapped in some pretty sharp
The interior has been lifted straight out of Hyundai’s luxury design book and shrunk to fit. While elbowroom is snug for four people, legroom is phenomenal for a car this small. the seats are the best here, with good side bolsters and firm but pliant foam. The interior fit and finish likewise trump those of the others, and despite the price, you get power front windows, a 12V power outlet, and an integrated stereo with USB and auxiliary input. There’s also an honest-to-goodness temperature gauge,
While the driving ergonomics
That lack of weight makes the car usefully sprightly at low speeds, even with just 55hp on tap from the 0.8-liter engine. That motor is based on Hyundai’s Epsilon architecture. It’s a single-cam, nine-valve workhorse that’s simply the old 1.1-liter four-pot with a piston lopped off. The oil pan and the gearbox are also smaller, saving even more weight.
Measured against the big boys, however, the puny drivetrain is wanting. It’s coarse-sounding, and that missing engine mount is immediately obvious when idling in traffic, as the vibration with the A/C on is quite pronounced. The ridiculously short gear ratios and the lack of power mean you’ll find yourself rowing through the gears to keep up with traffic. Top speed? Well, let’s just say you shouldn’t plan on racing delivery vans, however much they ask for it. You’ll just be embarrassing yourself.
While the unrefined powertrain will turn off petrolheads, it’ll delight secretaries and cheapskates alike. Oil changes require a mere thimbleful of slick stuff. A full tank of just 32 liters can get you over 600km on the highway. And city driving doesn’t dent the range much, because the Eon is narrow enough to squirt through gaps barely wide enough for a scooter. And best of all, the aircon actually works.
The Eon is easy to drive and a trifle to park, and the ride is
Note: This article first appeared in Top Gear PH’s June 2012 issue. Minor edits have been made.