A SUBCONTINENTAL SHIFT
MOST vehicles sold in Australia are built in Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Germany or the US.
The Ecosport is the first Ford sold here from India, although not the first Indian-made car sold locally: there were some Suzuki and Hyundai small cars in the past.
A mainstream model in India but a niche vehicle in Australia, the Ecosport is designed to compete with our smallest city-size SUVs.
It shares much of its underpinnings with the Ford Fiesta, is smaller than rivals such as the Honda HR-V but is similar in size to the Mazda CX-3.
The tall and narrow body gives it an SUV appearance, even if it’s not 4WD.
It feels small inside, the front seat occupants almost rubbing shoulders.
The Ecosport missed the mark when it went on sale in Australia at the start of 2014.
The 1.0-litre threecylinder turbo was available only with a five-speed manual, while the conventional 1.5-litre four was matched to Ford’s troubled twin-clutch automatic, which is at the centre of a class action after complaints of shuddering.
The new model is available solely with a 1.0-litre turbo triple matched to a conventional six-speed auto.
The transmission is a vast improvement, although the engine still has the trademark hum and vibration.
In an otherwise underwhelming interior, the highlight is the large central touchscreen with SYNC3, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The fonts are modern, the tabs much more intuitive to use.
The digital speedo is also a welcome addition.
The tailgate still opens like a door. If the car is parked on the side of the road, you need to stand near the traffic to open the door.
I don’t mind the fullsize spare on the tailgate; it will be replaced by a space-saver under the boot floor later this year which will, ironically, eat into cargo space.
Ford has done an excellent job of settling the Ecosport’s suspension on bumpy roads and in tight turns.
It almost feels fun to drive and the auto transmission is now no longer a concern.
Midway through the test I even outed myself as a fan and reckoned it should get a second chance.
Then I saw the prices; even if drive-away, are they kidding?
The base Ambiente is $26,400, the mid-grade Trend is $28,150 and the flagship Titanium is an eye-watering $32,700.
You can get an SUV the next class size up for this dough.
And even the top-spec doesn’t get autonomous emergency braking.
Once Ford clears stock of the old model, it will get serious on the price of this new one.
Out of India... the Ford Ecosport.