We have had hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs and various other types of cars in our long-term garage. But this is the first time, we get sometime new in its segment. A compact SUV, called as the Ford Ecosport. To be honest, I was keen to drive this car for a long time and we finally got our hands on this SUV. The Ecosport has been the first compact SUV, and since then even Maruti has got into this segment.
In terms of design, the EcoSport manages to excel in leveraging the platform’s strength in creating a compact SUV, which still manages to be very aerodynamic. There is enough road presence and purpose to the design. With the wheels out on the extremities of the vehicle, the raised posture and the spare wheel mounted on the hatch door, the EcoSport has that butch stance that we associate with SUVs.
But, it must be remembered that the design also cleverly uses visual cues to elevate itself into SUV territory. Some of the features that help it achieve this include the roof rails, the aggressive oversized bonnet grille, and the wrap-around rear glass that merges with the kink in the C-pillar, the large stalked door mirrors, the high shoulder line and the body-side cladding that visually raises the EcoSport even more than its already high 200mm ground clearance.
The Ford EcoSport range is punctuated by three trim levels, and unlike the original, the facelifted model comes with far more equipment. The first and most noticeable difference is the removal of the tyre from the rear door, followed swiftly by the smart LED day-running lights.
Opt for the Zetec trim and your EcoSport will come fitted with 16in alloys, manual air con, all-round electric windows, hill start assist. Other luxuries include a radio/CD player complete with Ford Sync and USB connection and a leather steering wheel. Go up to Titanium and keyless entry and go, cruise control, auto headlights and wipers, and half leather seats are thrown in.
The new Titanium S trim level not only gets a peppy 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine but also 17in alloys, sports suspension, trim and a Sony DAB system.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The highlight of the updated EcoSport is of course the 1.5-litre diesel engine. The oil-burner now whacks out an additional 9 PS of power and the total power output has been bumped up to 100 PS, which also matches the numbers of the Figo twins. Torque remains at 205 Nm and the engine is still mated to the same 5-speed manual gearbox. Gear shifts are not the smoothest out there and still feel a bit notchy. 0-100 km/hr has been improved by a small margin which isn’t really noticeable in normal usage, but what is noticeable is the fact that the TDCI mill has a much better bottom-end now and the car responds to throttle inputs in a very brisk fashion.
The clutch feels lighter now while the turbo starts spooling in from a notch below 2000 RPM. All the 99 horses are delivered across the rev range in a very linear manner. 100 km/hr comes up at 12.76 seconds from standstill compared to 13.43 seconds of the previous model. The EcoSport also gets a 1.5-litre petrol engine and a 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine and both of these remain completely unchanged. The EcoBoost is offered with a manual transmission while the bigger petrol engine gets a 5-speed manual gearbox along with the option of a 6-speed DCT.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The ground clearance of the Ecosport has been a boon. At 200mm higher from the ground, this makes it easy to drive on bad roads and even park on not-so-well paved roads. Driving on winding roads is also a lot of fun with the Ecosport. The electronic steering is precise and doesn’t make you feel tired at any moment. However, the suspension set-up is on the stiffer side. This means a lot of the bumps and the occupants feel shocks from the road.
One thing that many experts will miss out on talking is the stowage space in the Ecosport. There is a drawer under the co-driver seat, two one litre boots can fit in any of the front door pockets and even the glove box is large enough.
The EcoSport is now offered with an extra variant which takes the total variant count to six – Ambiente, Trend, Trend+, Titanium, Titanium AT and Titanium+. Ford offers ABS on all variants except Ambiente. Dual front airbags are offered on all variants barring the Ambiente and Trend trims. The Titanium AT and Titanium+ trims also get side and curtain airbags. Ford has loaded the automatic variant with Emergency Brake Assist, ESC, Traction Control and Hill Launch Assist. The EcoSport comes with a 2 year/ 1 lakh kms warranty and Ford also offers a 24/7 roadside assistance service.
The EcoSport has much going for it in terms of design, focused engine tech and features. To push the envelope Ford has loaded in tech like the Microsoft partnered SYNC system into the car’s audio and telecom features. And Ford India is said to be involving local emergency services to utilise the infrastructure if an emergency arises for the car and its occupants. The system auto dials the emergency services if an airbag is deployed or if detects an emergency ignition cut-off.
But apart from all this the most key metric that can enable Ford to make the EcoSport a really attractive proposition to buyers is the car’s overall length.
At 3,999 mm, the EcoSport meets the sub-4-metre lower duties stipulation and that basically means that the price of this compact SUV can be really aggressive (read affordable). The diesel and the EcoBoost engines will, of course, qualify for the lower duty too.