Ford Ecos­port

Auto Today - - Dashboard - PIC­TURES Gur­deep Bhalla

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

Likes

Features, looks, han­dling, en­gine re­fine­ment

Dis­like

Space is at a pre­mium at the back

Rahul Ghosh As­so­ciate Ed­i­tor rahul.ghosh@in­to­day.com @bul­let­com­pany

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

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