New engine, updated styling
and added tech
Ford has given the EcoSport a makeover. We drive it in Goa to find if it has the capability of being the first choice again
Before 2013 SUVs were more of an aspiration for most Indians. If you had one, it was a mark that you had arrived in life. But all that changed when Ford launched the EcoSport, the country’s first compact SUV. It made aspirations reality as suddenly everyone could afford it. Waiting lists shot up to months as well. This was a sign of things to come. Manufacturers suddenly ‘needed’ a compact SUV. Things have changed quite a bit today with the Maruti-Suzuki Vitara Brezza on sale. Adding to it is Tata’s recently launched
Nexon and not to forget Honda’s WR-V. So with so many options, the Ford EcoSport started to lose ground more so because age was catching up. Now Ford is back in the ring with the rejuvenated EcoSport and we got to try it. So what all has changed?
Let’s start with the obvious; things which you can see. The front end has gone under the scalpel and hence gets new projector type headlamps with integrated day time running lamps. The front bumper has been redesigned and the indicator and fog lamps have been paired together in a large console. The grille too has been redone with a dash of chrome. Top of the line variants come shod with large 17in wheels, while the ground clearance remains more adequate. At the back minor changes come in form of a repositioned tail gate release button. Ford tells us that after much debate, it was decided that the spare wheel would continue to be mounted on the tail gate as it is signature SUV styling.
Inside is where most changes have been made. The dash is all new and now comes with an 8in touch screen infotainment system mounted on the centre con- sole. Lower variants will come with a 6.5in unit. However the functionalities and features remain same. So, all variants will come with Ford’s Sync 3.0 system which is Apple and Android ready. The unit will also beam the feed from the reversing camera, something which was missing earlier. The unit is easy to use and also adheres to voice commands. The hazard light switch has also been repositioned cleverly between the air con vents. The EcoSport continues to offer climate control system. The instrument panel is all new and now also comes with a tyre pressure monitoring system. Other features include automatic mirrors and cruise control among others. So pretty loaded it is. But what remains unchanged is the amount of space the EcoSport offers. So rear seat passengers might complain of feeling a being cramped. But
they do get their very own 12V power sockets.
Moving on to the engines in the offing. Ford continues to offer the EcoSport with the ever so efficient 1.5-litre diesel motor mated to a five speed manual transmission. But if you are looking for a petrol offering, the EcoSport now gets the new 3-cylinder naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine. Fondly referred to as the ‘Dragon’, this motor offers 123bhp and 150Nm of torque. While the power figure is almost at par with the 1.0-litre turbo petrol, torque figure is substantially lower. Another new feature is the 6-speed automatic transmission which is paired to this new petrol engine. Adding to it are the paddle shifters, another first in class offering. The petrol is also available with a manual gearbox.
On the move, the diesel feels as torquey as ever. It pulls strongly thus reducing the need of frequent downshifts. It is also powerful enough to power the small SUV to rather high top speeds. We are also happy to report that NVH levels are much
better in this new version. This means that the diesel clatter is not as audible as before within the cabin especially at lower revs. The ‘Dragon’ feels smooth for a three-pot. The motor does not feel vibey or coarse. Be it at idle or at speed, the driver will find little to complain and sometimes difficult to believe that under the bonnet resides a three-potter. This is also because of the fact that there is no lag associated with this engine as seen on turbocharged units. Adding to it is the good dose of power which allows the EcoSport to sprint with relative ease. The motor also is a rev happy beast and can frequent the red line with ease. The fuel efficiency claimed is 17kmpl and that is also a rather good figure for a SUV. The six-speed automatic feels smooth on the go at regular city speeds. It shifts seamlessly and one will be hard-pressed to notice the shifts. But if the driver dabs the accelerator suddenly the revs shoot up and stay there while the gearbox decides on the right cog. This problem though can be omitted by the use of the paddle shifters. What continues to be good is the ride and handling. The steering feels quick and is responsive as ever. The suspension is set well and absorbs bumps with relative ease. At the same time it is stiff enough to allow the EcoSport play through corners.
DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE THAT UNDER THE BONNET RESIDES A THREE-POTTER
1. The new EcoSport comes with an all new infotainment system. It offers Ford’s Sync 3 system and is Apple and Android ready. It can also beam the feed from the reversing cam. 2. Climate control system is easy to operate. 3. 6-speed automatic gearbox a new feature. 4. New steering loaded with controls. 5. All new instrument panel. It now gets a tyre pressure monitoring system as well. 6. Paddle shifter now on the EcoSport. 7. Rear passengers get an armrest too
Features, looks, handling, engine refinement
Space is at a premium at the back
The EcoSport was the one which started the trend of the compact SUV. But four years later it was showing its age. So this refresh comes at the right time. It gets some glitzy bits and better equipment. Adding to it will be the new petrol motor which should help Ford gather sales figures. So if Ford prices it competitively, it should be back in the compact SUV ring.
1. All-new 1.5-litre petrol motor offers ample power. It is pretty refined despite being a three-cylinder. 2. 17in alloys on top variant. 3. Projector headlamps with day time running lights