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Renault Kwid vs Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 vs Hyundai Eon

Introduction

The Maruti Alto is the best selling car in our country. Period. Although the Hyundai Eon has been selling in decent numbers, it is still just one-fourth of what the Alto manages. As this is a volumes segment a great product could turn out to be a game changer for any car maker. The latest to take the small car bait is the Renault Kwid. With SUVs being the flavour of the season, Renault has understandably gone for a muscular and bold design which makes the small Kwid stand out from the average looking crowd. But it’s not only the looks that go in the Kwid’s favour, Renault has also managed to make their small hatch spacious and affordable. The Alto may have conservative styling and might not be exciting but it’s a best seller for a reason(s). It is easy to maintain, has a peppy engine, is extremely easy to drive and Maruti’s wide network makes it very tempting. The Eon on the other hand, is a very stylish compact hatch and over time, Hyundai have constantly upgraded their entry-level product. This means the Eon is better than ever before and a serious threat to its competition. So here is a comprehensive battle of the small gladiators and the end result was much closer than we expected.

Visual appeal

At first glance, the Kwid feels like it should have been launched alongside the mini SUV category as it sports bold design cues for an entry-level hatchback. The commanding front end is achieved by the high bonnet, slightly inset headlamps and the imposing Renault logo on a huge slatted grille. The side profile is exaggerated by the pronounced wheel arches, cladding and 180mm ground clearance. The rear wheel arches curve up around the C-pillar and hold the flat-shaped tail lamps and the blacked out section of the rear bumper extends from the rear wheel arch all the way to the lip of the boot. There is no denying that the Kwid’s SUV stance will be reason enough for most prospective buyers to head to showrooms initially.

Maruti’s Alto was introduced in 2012 and is based on the earlier Alto platform. The old engine was tweaked to accommodate emission control, the chassis was stiffened and there were comprehensive sheet metal changes to create a fresh look. The front end is pronounced by the fluent ridges on the bonnet that cleanly holds the slightly swept back headlamps. The grille looks sleek with the bold Suzuki logo and the blacked out slats on the chin lends it character. When viewed from the side, the flared wheel arches and prominent crease that runs along the window line add much needed flair to an otherwise drab profile. Overall, the Alto looks the least attractive and also a size smaller than the other two.

When Hyundai launched the Eon in 2011, its modern looks won many hearts. The design is in tune with Hyundai’s fluidic design sculpture and has lot of pleasing curves. The swept-back head lamps begin from the bottom of the A-pillar alongside the bonnet line and move all the way to the front. This meets a smiley front grille with the Hyundai emblem and blacked out chin that extends to the sides of the front bumper. These lines stream on to the sides of the fender creating the flared wheel arches. With the rear windows being raked up at the C-pillar, the car compromises on the rear glass area. At the rear, the Eon seems too rounded and the extra-large tail-lamps look a bit out of place.

Compact spaces

The Renault Kwid greets you with a meaty steering wheel and a handsome instrument cluster displaying a large digital speedometer. What also adds to the modern feeling is the large seven inch touchscreen that sits proudly on top of the centre console. The front seats have good back support but they feel a bit flat especially compared to the Eon’s. Shoulder room and ingress on the Kwid, though behind the Eon, are better than the Alto. The back seat features good space with best length and a well-angled backrest which makes it a nice place to be in, especially for the third passenger. Storage is taken care of by the twin gloveboxes and even the top compartment is big enough to hold a full size bottle. Adding to the convenience is the slot in between both gloveboxes for increased storage. The centre console can hold a decent amount of accessories in addition to the door pads which can hold a bottle too. Although overall quality is better than the Alto it is not as consistent as the Hyundai Eon’s. We particularly didn’t like the cheap plastics used for the door handles, door pads and even the dash graining felt off the mark. On the other hand, you will appreciate the Kwid’s boot which can swallow a massive 300litres of luggage.

 

Behind the wheel of the Alto, you simply feel that it is an outdated car. The centrally placed air-con vents are an eyesore and the grey colour used throughout the cabin looks bland. In comparison, the seats hardly have any contours and don’t offer much support. Legroom in the rear is almost as good as the Kwid and better than the Eon. However, the low backseat and poor seat width translate into a knees-up sitting position which definitely does not help when accommodating the third passenger. In addition to the glove box, there is a slot above the glovebox which comes handy to hold small things. There’s more storage space ahead of the gear shifter which can also accommodate a bottle but the front doorpads are slim enough to only hold papers. The boot can accommodate 177 litres and that means a few normal sized bags at the most.

 

Position yourself in the Eon and you’ll appreciate the sculpted dashboard and the well-built switches and knobs. Dual tone interiors that spread across the cabin adds a refreshing feel in comparison to the others. The Eon scores ahead of the pack with the most shoulder width in the front. This is coupled with front seats that offer the best support along with a snug fit. Rear legroom scores the lowest compared to the other cars and though space in the rear is wider than the Alto, it still lags behind the Kwid in terms of space and seat support. Ingress is also the easiest on the Eon. That said, there’s enough storage capacity for your requirements on the dashboard, centre console and door pads and we found the power window switches conveniently placed on the door. You can accommodate a decent amount of luggage in the Eon’s 215 litre boot.

Gizmos

The Renault Kwid RXT Option version comes equipped with externally adjustable door mirrors, an immobilizer, remote central locking and front fog lamps. You also get a driver airbag, full wheel covers and a power outlet. There’s front power windows, a touch screen mp3 music system with two speakers, an aux-in and USB port. What you get over the other three cars is a trip computer, bluetooth functions and satellite navigation. However, the use of non-inertia rear seatbelts is a glaring omission and the Kwid also misses out on tilt steering. 

Maruti’s Alto VXi airbag version is similarly equipped but instead comes with internally adjustable door mirrors. The Alto, however, misses out on remote locking, fog lamps and tilt steering.

The Hyundai Eon Sportz variant also gets internally adjustable door mirrors along with all the mentioned features. It is the only car to get tilt steering though. 

 

Power to the wheels

You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the Kwid (weighing 669kg) equipped with a 799cc engine making 53.2bhp and 72Nm of torque should have the advantage to outdo the others. But the answer is no. Even though the Kwid feels a lot quicker than it really is, it is the slowest with 0-100kmph registered in 17.93 seconds. But you hardly feel this as it accelerates smoothly for such a small engine and this makes driving in the town an easy affair. When on the highway the Kwid cruises well but the engine doesn’t feel completely refined like the Eon’s. We also noticed the same rubbery feel like in the Eon while shifting gears on the Kwid. 

 

The Alto 800 packs the least power and torque figures of 47.3bhp and 69Nm from its 3-cylinder 796cc engine. Even though it’s the heaviest (at 725kg), this car feels the peppiest of the lot. Performance figures derived from the Alto outclass both cars by a fair margin. 0-100kmph is despatched in 17.09 seconds and roll-on speeds are impressively quicker. It needs to be said that the engine sounds rough at times but the power delivery is consistent through the range. These points prove that driving in the city in the Alto is an easy affair with the light clutch and short throw gearbox. Only minimal responses are required for the engine to spin ahead from almost any speed. This flexibility adds to the Alto’s highway manners too and a shift or two is all you need when overtaking.   

 

Hyundai’s Eon, in comparison, belts out 55.2bhp and 74.5Nm of torque from its 814cc 3-cylinder engine. Though lighter (at 715kg) and more powerful than the Alto, it’s slower with the 0-100kmph coming up in 17.41 seconds. Power delivery is smoother than the other two and the quality of gearshifts, though positive, lags behind the Alto. This makes traversing city traffic reasonably easy but the lack of outright power from this engine will need you to plan your overtaking slightly in advance. The little Hyundai is the most refined and has the best sound insulation when you’re on the road.

Road manners

The Kwid’s long suspension travel and high profile tyres show  good absorption characteristics and give confidence over any surface. Ride quality is great at low speeds where the Kwid munches up potholes with ease. Nevertheless, the ride at higher speeds feels bumpy over broken surfaces and the skinny tyres tend to lose grip earlier than needed. It loses composure around fast bends with the opposite corners bumping vertically, due to the massive shock absorber travel and some amount of roll. We rate the Kwid’s steering way behind both other cars as it offers zero feedback at any speed. 

 

The Alto has the flattest ride regardless of whether it’s driven in the city or on the highway. It’s only when driven over increasingly broken surfaces that the Alto starts moving vertically a bit and this is attributed to its stiffer suspension setup. The steering, though slightly vague at the centre, is light and delivers just the right amount of feedback to keep you posted about what’s happening at the wheels. There is a fair amount of roll when pushed around bends, which is expected.

 

The Eon’s ride is the softest amongst the cars tested here. Pot holes, bumps and broken surfaces are levelled with aplomb at low speeds, but the Kwid’s ride is relatively better thanks mainly to its higher suspension travel. However, at higher speeds the ride quality of the Eon weakens; it bounces about and this vertical movement is mainly noticed due to its softly sprung suspension. At this stage the Eon tends to roll the most too which means that you eventually back off the pedal around faster corners.

Wallet friendly

 

The Renault Kwid pulled off a remarkable fuel efficiency of 15.6kmpl within the city and 21.4kmpl on the highway. The lightweight construction of the car aiding this to an extent. The Maruti Alto made do with the least city efficiency of 13.3kmpl but gave a higher highway figure of 17.8kmpl than the Eon. The Hyundai Eon bettered the Alto’s city efficiency by delivering 13.7kmpl but delivered only 17.2kmpl on the highway run. The Renault Kwid RXT Option variant is priced attractively at Rs 3.85 lakh (on-road Delhi), while the cheapest of the three, the Maruti Alto VXi airbag version costs Rs 3.74 lakh (on-road Delhi). The Sportz variant on Hyundai’s Eon is the most expensive car here and costs Rs 4.50 lakh (on-road, Delhi).  

Final round

The most enticing bit about the Alto is Maruti’s hassle-free ownership experience. It is peppy, the cheapest to buy, has a short-throw gearbox and benefits from the flattest ride. However, it’s plagued by bland looking interiors, basic seats and irritating decibels in the cabin. Having the smallest boot does not help matters either.

Maruti Alto 800

Rank – 3rd

Final Score – 336/600

 

The Renault Kwid gains a lot of attraction with its bold looks. It has the best fuel efficiency figures and is the most spacious in the rear. The third passenger is the best accommodated and the cabin is quiet and comfortable. Snazzy interior bits like the speedo console and huge touch screen are a welcome addition. But the Kwid’s handling, manoeuvrability and overall driveability score the lowest. Inferior build quality is also a huge turn off.

Renault Kwid 

Rank – 2nd

Final Score – 344/600

 

Though the Eon is unexciting to drive, you will appreciate the good build quality, well sculpted interiors and supportive seats. You get superior front space, the second best boot coupled with a smooth and refined engine. Even though it’s the most expensive to buy, we feel that the Hyundai Eon is the best package. It fulfils a consumer’s overall requirements from an entry-level hatchback and this makes it edge ahead of the pack. 

Hyundai Eon 

Rank – 1st

Final Score – 348/600

Pictures : Kapil Angane 

 

Specifications

CAR NAME Renault Kwid Hyundai Eon Maruti Alto 800
Variant RXT Option Sportz VXi Airbag
ENGINE      
Fuel Petrol Petrol Petrol
Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse
Displacement 3 cyls, 799cc 3 cyls, 814cc 3 cyls, 796cc
Bore/stroke 69/71.2mm 67/77mm 68.5/72mm
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl 3 valves per cyl 4 valves per cyl
Power 53.2bhp at 5678rpm 55.2bhp at 5500rpm 47.3bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 72Nm at 4386rpm 74.5Nm at 4000rpm 69Nm at 3500rpm
Power to weight 79.5bhp per tonne 77.2bhp per tonne 65.2bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 107.6Nm per tonne 104.1Nm per tonne 95.1Nm per tonne
Gearbox 5-speed manual 5-speed manual 5-speed manual
CHASSIS & BODY      
Kerb weight 669kg 715kg 725kg
Tyres 155/80 R13 155/70 R13 145/80 R12
Spare Full-size Full-size Full-size
STEERING      
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric Electric Electric
Turning circle 10m 9.1m 9.2m
BRAKES      
Front Discs Discs Discs
Rear Drums Drums Drums
Anti-lock No No No

Test data

CAR NAME Renault Kwid Hyundai Eon Alto 800
Variant RXT Option Sportz VXi airbag
PERFORMANCE & BRAKING      
0-20kph 1.25s 1.19s 1.27s
0-40kph 3.28s 3.44s 3.30s
0-60kph 6.78s 6.39s 6.20s
0-80kph 11.55s 11.02s 10.51s
0-100kph 17.93s 17.41s 17.09s
0-120kph 27.93s 29.31s 29.70s
       
20-80kph in 3rd gear 17.08s 16.68s 13.30s
40-100kph in 4th gear 26.38s 26.21s 22.50s
       
80-0kph 34.99m 36m 36m
FUEL ECONOMY      
City 14kpl 13.7kpl 13.3kpl
Highway 18kpl 17.2kpl 17.8kpl
Tank size 28 litres 32 litres 35 litres
Range 444.8km 464km 500.5km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS      
Front      
Legroom(Max/min) 790/600mm 800/620mm 800/600mm
Headroom(Max/min) 950mm 980mm 960mm
Shoulder room 1220mm 1230mm 1190mm
Backrest height 540mm 570mm 550mm
Rear       
Legroom(Max/min) 810/620mm 760/560mm 800/600mm
Ideal legroom 720mm 630mm 620mm
Headroom 900mm 900mm 890mm
Shoulder room 1200mm 1170mm 1130mm
Seat base length 490mm 470mm 440mm
Backrest height 500mm 500mm 510mm
Boot 300litres 215litres 177litres
Length/width/height 700/960/550mm 520/1010/470mm 540/1010/400mm
Loading lip height 730mm 740mm 680mm

Score sheet

Parameters Max points Renault Kwid RXT Option Hyundai Eon Sportz Maruti Alto 800 VXi Airbag
DRIVING FEEL        
Steering response 20 8 10 10
Directional stability 25 10 12 10
Engine characteristics 25 12 12 11
Gearbox 20 10 12 12
Visibility 10 7 7 8
Intermediate results 100 47 53 51
         
SPACE        
Front Space 25 10 10 9
Rear space 25 10 7 6
Feeling of space 20 13 12 10
Boot space/flexibility 20 12 9 8
Payload 10 6 6 6
Intermediate results 100 51 44 39
         
IN THE CABIN        
Comfort equipment 25 6 5 3
Operatibility 15 10 10 7
Feel of quality 20 12 13 11
Front seats/ingress 20 13 14 12
Rear seat/ingress 20 13 13 12
Intermediate results 100 54 55 45
         
PERFORMANCE        
Acceleration 25 11 11 12
Top speed 10 6 6 6
Driveability 30 14 15 18
Braking 25 17 17 17
Environment 10 7 7 7
Intermediate results 100 55 56 60
         
ROAD MANNERS        
Ride quality 30 20 20 19
Turning circle 15 14 15 15
Handling 20 9 10 11
Manoeuvrability 15 12 13 14
Safety 20 2 2 2
Intermediate results 100 57 60 61
         
PRICE        
Price 45 45 45 45
Resale 10 7 8 9
Warranty 10 6 6 5
Fuel efficiency 35 22 21 21
Intermediate results 100 80 80 80
Total 600 344 348 336

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