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Hyundai releases India-only Eon

Subcontinental: The new Hyundai Eon sub-compact car will be sold in the burgeoning Indian market.

Hyundai Australia rules out i10 as its Indian subsidiary releases even smaller Eon

Hyundai logo20 Oct 2011

By MIKE COSTELLO

HYUNDAI has released an all-new sub-compact car called the Eon, which it has designed exclusively for India’s booming light vehicle market.

It will slot into the brand’s Indian range beneath the i10 light car, which Hyundai has ruled out of contention for the Australian market in its present generation.

Hyundai Australia senior manager of public relations Ben Hershman told GoAuto that the Indian-built i10 remains off the agenda for Australia due to limited global supply and its failure to attain a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, which he said was “not consistent with Hyundai’s modern premium positioning”.

Almost 80 per cent of all new passenger vehicles sold in India last year were classified as either mini cars or subcompact passenger cars, according to JD Power.

The Eon – built near Chennai – will be a direct rival for India’s highest-selling car, the Suzuki Maruti Alto, with prices starting from around 270,000 rupees (A$5300) for entry-level variants.

Built on an all-new platform designed specifically for the Indian market, it is claimed to be the first car in the country’s rapidly-growing sub-light segment to offer a driver airbag.

1 center imageFrom top: Eon interior, i10, i20, Suzuki Maruti Alto.

All but one Eon variant gets air-conditioning while higher-specified models include features such as power windows, tilt-adjustable steering column, MP3-compatible audio system, fog lights, central locking and keyless entry.

Hyundai also claims class-leading interior space, while the dash design and interior trim finish is said to be comparable to more expensive compact segment cars.

The baby Hyundai is powered by an 800cc three-cylinder petrol engine with 41kW of power at 5500rpm and 76Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

Hyundai claims the tiny triple gives the Eon class-leading fuel economy figures of 4.7 litres per 100km thanks to fuel-conserving measures like a shift indicator on the standard five-speed manual gearbox.

With an overall length of 3495mm and a width of 1550mm, the Eon is about the same size as the top-selling Maruti Alto, and about 300mm shorter and 100mm narrower than a Nissan Micra.

The Indian version of Alto is not the same as the more modern Australian-market Suzuki Alto – also made in India – which features a greater range of safety features and standard equipment.

Hyundai Australia’s decision not to bring the i10 here leaves the brand without a presence on the lower-end of the light-car spectrum alongside cars such as the Alto, Micra, Holden Barina Spark and, eventually, the Kia Picanto and Volkswagen Up.

Hyundai’s Australian light-car line-up will instead continue to be comprised of the Indian-built i20 hatch and the larger, pricier Accent sedan and hatch range released in August this year.

A significant sales jump for the i20 in recent months and the addition of the Accent range have combined to partially alleviate the loss of sales brought on by the discontinuation of the previously volume-selling Getz.

Hyundai recently streamlined the i20 line-up due to tight supply, axing the larger 1.6-litre engine and flagship Elite variant while lopping $500 from the price of the entry-level Active three-door.

Mr Hershman said sales of the Elantra small sedan and all-new i40 Tourer – sales of which are projected to hover between 300-400 units per month if supply levels remain adequate – would help to pick up some of the slack caused by the loss of Getz to Hyundai’s total volume.

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