Shootout: Datsun GO vs Hyundai Eon 1.0 vs Maruti Alto K10
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 3.72 – 4.40 lakhs (Datsun GO), Rs. 4.54 lakhs (Hyundai Eon 1.0), Rs. 3.91 – 4.06 lakhs (Maruti Alto K10)
All three cars produce almost similar power output from their 3-cylinder petrol engines
A first time car buyer used to only want a vehicle which could get them from point A to point B in the least possible cost. Times keep changing and the demands of the first time car buyer has also evolved. He no longer just wants a car, instead, he wants a vehicle which is terrific value for money with performance to boot. No one wants to buy a A-segment car which can’t carry at least four people with the AC running at full pelt, this has resulted in the evolution of entry-level hatchbacks. While you still get small cars with the standard pint-sized motor producing hardly any power, there are now more powerful versions available too. From India’s largest car maker, there is the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10, while Datsun brought the GO with the Micra’s petrol powerplant, giving it enough juice to keep going strong at triple digit speeds. Last time around, we pitched the GO against the Hyundai Eon and the Datsun won. Hyundai has replied by launching the Eon with a 1.0-litre engine. Can the Korean car win back its lost glory or will the Japanese rivals pull a fast one on the latest variant from India’s largest automotive exporter? A shootout beacons us to find out just that.
Motor Quest: Maruti Suzuki was the first company to offer a powerful engine in its entry-level hatchback with the Alto drawing power from a 1.1-litre mill way back in the 2000s. Later on, the car got the 1.0-litre K-Series engine. Datsun launched the GO earlier this year with a 1.2-litre gasoline motor while Hyundai launched the Eon 1.0-litre only last month.
Styling – There is no denying the fact that the Alto K10 is the most aged car here. Not got an update since a long time, the overall body shape of this Maruti Suzuki vehicle is identical to the car which was launched more than 12 years back, as just the Alto (no K10 that time). It did get a minor facelift a few years back but still looks drastically dated. The design clearly seems from a couple of decades ago and forgot inviting second glances, even a brand new, factory fresh and oven hot Alto K10 won’t look like new because the styling is just so passe. That brings us to the two cars which look extremely fresh and attractive.
Both the Hyundai Eon and Datsun GO look modern, although the former is older as it was launched in 2011 while the GO made its world debut only last year. While the GO has neat and straight lines on its body, the Eon pleases with the swoops and curves which it proudly flaunts. The Eon gets body coloured mirrors but skips on body coloured door handles, in the GO it’s exactly the opposite (body coloured door handles but no body coloured rearview mirrors). While the Eon has plenty of badges all around, the GO has only one (on the boot). The GO’s bigger size makes it look like a segment up but the Eon’s cute and compact, eventually making this even stevens in the design department.
Interiors – The Alto K10’s age shows when you step inside the cabin as well, it has the worst interiors here and also lacks on space, big time. The Alto is simply no match to the Eon or the GO when it comes to interior design, quality, space or comfort. In fact, for the most part, the interior competition is just between the Hyundai Eon and the Datsun GO. The Eon has the best interior quality here, much better than the GO, in fact, the Hyundai is so good on the interior front that it trumps the Datsun quite easily. Where Nissan’s car goes wrong is cost cutting which is evident in plenty. For starters, the Datsun GO doesn’t have internally adjustable rearview mirrors (you have to open the window and adjust them manually), it’s the only car here which doesn’t have this small yet useful feature.
Another feature missing on the GO and available on the other cars is co-passenger power window on driver door. Now this seems like a small thing but you will be baffled by how useful it is. While driving the GO around Mumbai, we kept encountering the plethora of toll booths and every time the fee collection guy was on the left, we had to dive all across to the left side to open the window (the single piece seat helps here though). None of the cars come with an audio system as standard but the GO comes with a mobile docking system, still there is no radio offered. The GO’s interior is quirky as you have a dashboard operated gear lever which fouls with your left leg most of the time. Rear seat passengers have to manually adjust their seat belt length and there is no remote locking/unlocking, there is no keyhole on the bootlid either.
All cars have similar AC performance and all of them have some storage bins but the GO has all of them open. So once you come out of the GO and then sit in the Eon, you feel you are sitting in a proper car. To the Datsun’s credit, the vehicle has much more space than the Eon, while headroom is almost similar, the GO annihilates everyone in this segment with its roomier cabin which is also wider, helping to fit three at the rear quite easily. It also has the biggest boot (the jack is placed under the driver’s seat and not in the trunk). So if space is what you are looking at, the GO is the clear winner in this department but if you want quality, equipment and the feel good factor, the Eon wins this round quite easily.
Performance – After being redundant for the first two parameters of our shootout, the Maruti Alto K10 finally claws back. All three cars produce around 68 PS of power (67 in the GO, 68 in the K10, 69 in the Eon). All are three-cylinder engines but while the Alto and Eon are 1.0-litre units, the GO has a bigger 1.2-litre heart and that does give it the torque advantage. The Maruti motor generates 90 Nm, the Kappa mill thrusts out 94 Nm while the HR12 unit in the Datsun belts out 104 Nm. The Alto being the lightest here is the fastest too but not the most drivable in stop-go traffic. NVH in the Alto is average while it’s good in the Eon. However, the NVH in the GO is the worst we have seen; wind, tyre, road, engine, you name it and noise filters through, there is no insulation whatsoever.
Being 3-pot engines, all motors vibrate but the Datsun GO has more vibrations at idle which are easily felt by the driver. All cars come with 5-speed manual gearboxes and the GO’s is the worst here, it feels notchy to operate and that’s surprising as the Korean Eon easily outclasses the Japanese here with a very smooth transmission. All the engines are very good but we like the Datsun’s for being more sporty, it sounds terrific for a 3-pot unit. While the GO and Alto comes with a tachometer, the Eon misses out on it but the Hyundai comes with a gearshift indicator (the GO gets gearshift markings on the speedo). Mileage is quite comparable between these cars but the Alto is the most frugal, followed by the GO and the Eon. One can expect 14-17 km/l from these cars (the GO also has a distance to empty display).
Driving Dynamics – Hyundai cars aren’t great in the handling department and the Japanese vehicles easily out nudge the Eon when it comes to dynamics. All cars run on 155 mm width tyres, bolted onto 13-inch wheels. However, the handling of the Alto and GO is quite good while the Eon simply doesn’t hold a match. The problem with the Eon is its steering, it just lacks feel and while others don’t fare too well here, the Eon’s steering wheel is simply lifeless, it gives very little feedback. This pronounces the body roll around corners.
The Datsun GO is stiffly sprung and that helps it remain stable at speed, while both the Eon and Alto don’t have good high speed manners (the K10 still fares much better than the Eon). The Eon’s soft suspension gives it good ride quality but the car tends to become bouncy, the case is similar with the Alto which has a stiffer suspension set-up but at speed it becomes quite stiff. The GO also has a stiff set-up but it has a more mature ride than the other two. Braking performance is decent in all these cars but the puny tyres and lack of ABS cause them all to lock on hard braking, the Eon meanwhile doesn’t maintain its line when you stand on the brake pedal.
Safety – There is nothing to write in the safety department, neither cars come with safety equipment, there are no airbags (the Eon does get the option of a driver side airbag), no ABS, nothing at all. All cars are likely to score a zero if put through a crash test by Global NCAP. Even a modern car like the Volkswagen Polo failed to clear the crash test sans airbags, which clearly points to the importance of this passive safety feature. Still, for a first time car buyer, ABS can also be hugely beneficial as it makes hard braking so much safer. It’s high time car manufacturers take notice and make safety equipment part of standard kit, more so on these cars which have a lot of grunt under the hood.
Verdict – The Maruti Alto is mechanically sound, it has a good engine, handles well but lacks massively in the space and equipment department. It also falters miserably with its design, it’s just so dated, it comes last. Now the fight to the top is between the Eon and the GO. The GO has more space and has much better dynamics. However, the Eon manages to better it by not feeling cheap, it just has much superior fit and finish. Cost cutting is evident on the GO (single wiper blade, 1 nozzle for spray, no keyhole on tail-gate, the list is endless) while the Hyundai feels more like a car which isn’t made to a price. Hyundai’s quality, equipment and interior design wasn’t alone enough to make it beat the GO, that’s why in the last outing together, the GO trumped the Hyundai. However, with a drastically better engine under its belly, the Eon now feels more complete, the gap between engine performance of both these cars is negligible and that helps the Eon to claw back its title of the segment king.
If you want a dynamically rich car, opt for the Datsun GO. However, for a first time car buyer, he/she doesn’t really care about dynamics but wants a good experience which the Hyundai Eon offers in plenty. The dated Alto K10 stands no where but a comprehensive update is in the pipeline.
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