Shootout: Datsun GO vs Hyundai Eon
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 4.39 lakhs (Datsun GO), Rs. 4.53 lakhs (Hyundai Eon Sportz)
The Hyundai Eon has the appeal but the Datsun GO is much more practical.
Buying your first car? Well you don’t have many options although vehicles from this segment are the highest in demand. The lack of options in the entry-level segment has left buyers no choice but to opt for the tried and tested vehicles. If you are on to a strict budget, you get the Tata Nano, if you are only bothered about easy service or you live in tier-3 markets, the Alto 800 is your pick and if you happen to live in the urban environment where your small car doesn’t have to appear cheap, the Hyundai Eon is what you would bet on, that’s until now because there is a new car in town which is all set to challenge the Hyundai Eon for small car supremacy in urban markets. Say hello to the Datsun GO, a vehicle which is here to lure first time car buyers with its bigger than rival’s engine, dimensions and space. We put the Datsun GO head-to-head with Hyundai’s entry level offering in India to see if the Eon can fend off competition from Nissan’s latest machine.
Motor Quest: The GO is the first Datsun in 28 years and is targeted at emerging markets like India. The Hyundai Eon is an India specific car for entry-level buyers. Both are only manufactured in India.
Styling – When Hyundai first launched the Eon, the car made instant waves for being a stylish car which did not look cheap, like other cars at this price point. The Datsun GO too is a car which doesn’t look cheap and that’s a big plus for the vehicle. With neither cars looking cheap or made to a price, deciding which is more appealing can be a tough job. But with little doubt, it’s the Hyundai Eon which carries a better design. While the GO has clean lines, the Eon’s fluidic flamboyance and compact dimensions do work in its favour to make it look small and cute. Among the two, the Eon still manages to stand out even though it’s the older car here.
Interiors – The Eon continues to please on the interior front with quality being better than the GO and cost cutting not being evident at all, something which is quite obvious in the Datsun. That’s not all, the Hyundai Eon also has a more appealing two-tone dashboard and the car comes with more features than the Datsun GO. While Nissan has given the GO a few features which first time buyers will appreciate (like follow-me home headlamps, distance to empty, real time and average mileage display, tachometer), Hyundai has gone the long haul by loading the Eon with a multitude of equipment including a driver side airbag, adjustable steering, keyless entry, internally adjustable rearview mirrors, audio system which doesn’t rely solely on your phone to produce music, fog lamps, etc. But numbers don’t lie and the Datsun GO is a much bigger car than the Hyundai Eon (the wheelbase of the GO is 70 mm longer). Not only does the GO have much more interior room, it also has a much bigger boot (265-litres vs 215-litres) and doesn’t feel cramped at all (five people can sit comfortably in the GO but not in the Eon). Both cars have good storage areas but the GO has extra space between the driver and co-passenger as the front seat is like a bench, however the GO doesn’t get door pockets at the rear.
Performance – When it comes to design and styling, Hyundai has the lead in most segments but the Datsun GO is much superior when it comes to performance. The reason why the Eon hasn’t become as successful as many expected it to become was solely because of its powertrain. The 814cc, 3-cylinder engine lacks bottom-end and thus driving in the city requires you to keep the motor on the boil, quite the opposite on the 1198cc, 3-pot mill of the GO, which is quite peppy to drive and has more than adequate grunt for city duties. The Eon pumps out 55 PS of power and 74.5 Nm of torque, the GO belts out 68 PS of power and 104 Nm of torque, so not only does the higher output give the GO much better performance, it is more drivable too. Both being 3-cylinder engines have a lot of vibes at idle but the Eon continues to give the driver vibrations on the move (via the gear lever), the GO doesn’t and seldom does it let you feel about the 3-cylinder engine once you get going.
The Hyundai Eon has a decent mid-range, the Datsun GO again betters it here and neither cars have a strong top-end but again the GO is an overall better performer. In fact, the GO’s powerplant is so superior, you can use the Datsun both in the city and on the highway and never do you feel the car bogging you down even with multiple people and luggage on board. With the Eon, you have to actually turn of the AC to tackle steep inclines of the road. The Datsun GO’s motor also doesn’t hesitate to pull towards its top speed and we were cruising for hours at a constant 120 km/hr with more than enough pep to do a quick overtake, you need to plan overtaking in the Eon. The GO’s motor doesn’t speed past 5200 RPM but the digital tachometer is a big boon (the Eon gets a gear shift indicator, the GO gets a gear shift guide). Both cars used 5-speed gearboxes but the Eon’s is more notchy than that of the GO while both have a light clutch pedal. The GO also beats the Eon in outright acceleration, taking 3.5 seconds less to reach 100 km/hr from standstill. Both cars should return similar mileage (15 km/l) with the Eon being marginally more frugal, the latter having a 0.5 km/l advantage as per ARAI.
Driving Dynamics – Hyundai cars aren’t known for dynamics and the Eon being the firm’s most basic offering isn’t any rich in this department. While low speed ride is good, the Eon simply doesn’t match the GO which rides more smoothly. The GO is less affected by bad roads, the Eon simply can’t take broken tarmac in its stride. Neither cars are going to put a smile on your face when you turn the steering with aggression but the Datsun is so much better to drive than the Hyundai. While the Eon’s steering is lighter than the GO, it doesn’t weigh up and feels extremely inconsistent. The GO’s steering weighs up decently and handling is better too. The GO also trumps the Eon when it comes to high speed stability but there is little to differentiate them when it comes to braking performance. Wind and tyre noise in the GO is more than the Eon but clearly the Datsun is the better car in the dynamics department.
Safety – Considering how poorly the Indian i10 has performed in Global NCAP safety tests, we don’t expect the Eon to do any better. The only boon being the driver side airbag but ABS should have also been offered considering both these cars have thin tyres in the interest of fuel economy. The Datsun GO doesn’t even get a single airbag, not even as an option, which is sad as even the Maruti Alto 800 gets it. However since the GO is based on the Micra and the latter has received 4-star from Euro NCAP (from 2003 onwards), we expect the Indian GO to be slightly more safer than the Eon but neither cars will pass the global NCAP test.
Verdict – Deciding between either of these cars isn’t all that difficult. It’s quite clear the Hyundai Eon is the more appealing car, both inside-out, offering more features with the Korean company having a much larger service network in India. But the Eon falters when it comes to the mechanicals, the engine just doesn’t have the level of performance offered by the Datsun GO and that’s where this Japanese car pulls a fast one. The Datsun GO is also the better car to drive and scores high on comfort with a pliant ride, spacious interiors and a large boot. What further tilts the favour in the Datsun GO’s favour is its size, it is significantly bigger than the Hyundai Eon (being 290 mm longer and 85 mm wider) which means you get a bigger car for similar money, a proposition hard to resist. The base Eon starts at Rs. 3.37 lakhs while the top-end model goes up to Rs. 4.53 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai) while the top-end Datsun GO will be priced under Rs. 4 lakhs (ex-showroom) thereby matching the Hyundai Eon on price. Thus for similar money, the Datsun GO is just the better car of the two and our pick in this shootout.
The Hyundai Eon shines in multiple departments but the Datsun GO is better when it comes to the mechanicals. In their current form, the GO is the better car and Hyundai needs to roll out the facelift of the Eon with an upgraded engine quickly to get back into contention.
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