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Beautiful, Brilliant Bravo, Hyundai!

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Even if gas prices are now closer to 50 than 60 pesos in Manila, nothing spells beautiful like a space-saving, eco-friendly city car. And guess what? We took such a car all the way up to Baguio for an econorun and back during landslide season. The car is the Eon and it handled superbly on slippery, writhing, waterfall-ridden Kennon Road—and it used very little gas doing it

My adrenaline is still pumping from the Baguio jaunt with Hyundai’s latest amazing machine, the Eon. Hyundai pleasantly surprised us (again) by rolling out a five-door hatchback so sophisticated in its handling, you’ll wonder how they achieved the Php479,000 price tag.

Even if it’s not the swankiest city car, with very bare-bones interior finishes, and sparse dashboard gizmos (the car we drove was the GLS model, the best of the Eon line), whatever lies beneath the hood will give you a good bang for your buck, especially at high speeds.

Of course, the i10 is a more comfy ride. But for fuel economy? Let me tell you, my fuel gauge remained unchanged all through Pangasinan! I thought the thing wa

s broken until the gauge finally dropped one light on McArthur Highway, La Union. One light is an eighth of the fuel meter in a 32-liter fuel tank? 4 liters. Brilliant.

Low FC at High AC
Imagine running on the tank’s allowance from Hyundai North Edsa, through Tarlac, Nueva Ecija,Pangasinan, and part of La Union. The last time I saw fuel economy like that, I was driving a hybrid.

What’s more, I actually kept the AC on at rest stops. First at North Edsa (as other drivers on the econorun sweated to save on fuel while waiting to start) then at the theme-park-cum-resto Isdaan in Gerona, Tarlac. I had only an hour’s sleep and wasn’t going to drive the full six hours to Baguio without the AC at full blast.

With AC maxed—until my navigator Paulo started to shiver and we turned it down a notch for a few minutes, then up again soon after when I started to feel hot—overtaking every vehicle on the horizon, hardly rolling, neither folding the side mirrors nor tailgating a truck, we made the 246.4 km run on 12.53 liters of 93-octane gas.

That’s 19.65 km/L, even when you don’t take fuel economy seriously. The econorun winner got 29.36 km/L.

Oh, by the way, we took a wrong turn twice during the econorun, and on the expressway at that. I had to off-road the poor Eon at one point to get back on track. No cops, thank goodness! I blame lack of sleep and will never admit to a bad sense of direction. At least I didn’t drive us off the mountain.

The Need for Speed
Once we hit 60kph, the Eon accelerated pretty fast to a hundred. But getting to 60kph required patience. The acceleration wasn’t that great, even for a five-speed manual transmission.

Like a bucking pony, the Eon will make sure you know it doesn’t like to run at low speeds. The gear stick shakes while idling, for one thing. Strange for a city car to hate sitting in traffic.

At least one good thing came out of that shaking gear stick. I usually drive in the city with one hand on the gear stick, but the Eon quickly weaned me away from this bad habit. While downward pressure doesn’t damage the shift fork, forward or rearward pressure can wear it thin. My excuse is that I believe I only exert vertical pressure. My mechanic will probably protest.

Now, I wonder at the engineering philosophy of building a city car that performs better at over 60kph and protests while idling or using a lower gear. Maybe they built it for Filipino drivers who like to drive fast in the city, have no concept of an inner lane, and like to do 100kph on the bus lane or shoulder of the road?

Anyway, we left Hyundai North Edsa at 8:40 a.m., got to Isdaan in Gerona, Tarlac at 11:02, just in time for the hearty lunch. A decent 2 hours, 22 minutes.

By 3:05 p.m., we reached the end of the run at the Caltex Rosario station. At half-past five, we were tossing our keys to the valet at The Manor in Camp John Hay.

Sans Bells, Whistles
The three-spoke steering wheel is handsome. Although sufficient for city driving, I felt the absence of a luxury finish during the six-hour drive

The boot space is a snug 215 liters and the cover is unattached and spartan. But into the boot we were able to cram in a cooler, one carry-on luggage, a dozen foot rugs, 16 heat pads, etc. from Mine’s View, and three of the famous Baguio brooms, large. The big box of Good Shepherd goodies had to ride in the backseat, perfectly cooled all the way back to Manila by the chilly AC.

The central door lock comes courtesy of a lock pin on the driver’s side, no switches. But the GLS model does come with keyless entry.

The absence of posh features will probably not be missed given Eon’s price tag. I don’t know about you, but I’m okay with Hyundai investing the Gs in technology rather than bells and whistles in an econo-priced city car.

The Eon would make a brilliant car for the fleet of a sales department on pure cost-efficiency alone (outlay + fuel consumption). And it would be a beautiful first car, especially for a teenager. It, at least, assures you that your teenager won’t be able to accelerate from zero to a hundred to his death—or someone else’s. Recently, I was almost sideswiped by a teenager driving an Accent along Katipunan. If I knew the little pipsqueak’s parents, I’d tell them to invest in their son’s future (that he’d even have one!) by switching him to an Eon. I say, make the little rascal work for enough wages to purchase an Accent on his own. Or make him work during summers to buy an Eon on his own right now. I hear they have a promo where you can drive home an Eon by laying down Php8,000 and amortizing it monthly for Php11,000. Makes the Eon brilliant, beautiful, and brat-proof.

Print ed: 07/12

 

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