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Ford Ecos­port vs Tata Nexon

- PIC­TURES Gur­deep Bhalla

Trends are chang­ing. SUVs are mov­ing from be­ing purely diesel driven to petrol power. We com­pare two of the lat­est en­trants in the mar­ket to find out which one is best

It is that time of the year when the win­ter chill sets in. While it re­lieves the coun­try from the swel­ter­ing heat, it also brings about an­other prob­lem. The qual­ity of air de­te­ri­o­rates and quite ob­vi­ously most govern­ments in a knee-jerk at­tempt blame the hum­ble mo­tor ve­hi­cle. While most are deemed as mur­der­ers, the diesel es­pe­cially is placed on the guil­lo­tine. In some parts of the coun­try talks are on to limit the life of a diesel ve­hi­cle to 10 years only! This puts im­mense pres­sure on the com­mon man to move to­wards petrol power. But one par­tic­u­lar seg­ment truly takes the hit; the much loved SUV. To com­bat drop­ping sales, man­u­fac­tur­ers have started of­fer­ing petrol pow­er­train op­tions on most mod­els, es­pe­cially the com­pact SUVs. Ford re­cently up­graded the Ecos­port and in­cluded in the list of changes is a brand new petrol en­gine. Tata Mo­tors on the other hand has the Nexon too. So it was about time we found out how they are to drive and most im­por­tantly, which one is the best.


The Ecos­port was the one which jump started the seg­ment. It was a hot-seller then and is still do­ing good num­bers. But it was in des­per­ate need of re­ju­ve­na­tion. This comes in form of a mild ex­te­rior makeover. The front end comes with a new bumper and larger light pods. The grille gets an ex­tra dash of chrome and the head­lamps come with day time run­ning lights. Top of the line vari­ants get 17in wheels, while the one we have, the ‘Ti­ta­nium’ comes with 16in wheels. Mi­nor changes have been made to the rear in form of a repo­si­tioned tail gate opener. It still re­mains slick and easy to use. The spare tyre is re­tained on the rear door as Ford feel that it is proper SUV DNA. In­ter­est­ing! The Nexon on the other hand is a com­plete de­par­ture from the con­ven­tional. The de­sign team at Tata led by Pratap Bose have tried to keep the quirky look and feel of the con­cept the com­pany showed few years back. We loved the way the head­lamps and grille come to­gether to look like one sin­gle el­e­ment.

1. The EcoS­port gets a re­ju­ve­nated cabin. We par­tic­u­larly like the touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The dis­play is ex­cel­lent and clear too. 2. In­stru­ment panel has been re­done and comes with more fea­tures. 3. The EcoS­port uses a 5-speed man­ual gearbox. 4. Ford has re­placed the tur­bocharged petrol en­gine with a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 1.5-litre. This mo­tor churns out 123bhp. The Nexon of­fers more torque though

At the same time the flared wheel arches give the com­pact SUV loads of char­ac­ter. But what re­ally left us sur­prised is the rear end of the Nexon. The two-tier treat­ment to the tail gate looks bril­liant and the split LED tail lamps add to the ap­peal of the Nexon.


While the changes to the ex­te­rior of the Ecos­port are lim­ited, the in­te­ri­ors have been given a ma­jor up­grade. The dash is all-new and looks and feels good. The cen­tre con­sole now gets a touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem which of­fers a rich and classy dis­play. The sys­tem takes care of most op­er­a­tions and can also be used to choose one out of many am­bi­ent cabin light­ing op­tions. Ford has de­ployed its SYNC 3.0 sys­tem in this ver­sion and it is quite easy to use and packs in a lot of fea­tures. The sys­tem also al­lows one to con­nect to Ap­ple and An­droid sys­tems. The only gripe we have is that it faces straight back in­stead of be­ing in­clined to­wards the driver. The in­stru­ment panel has been re­designed too and comes with a cou­ple of more use­ful fea­tures like a tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem. The Ecos­port though has one slight is­sue and that is space. The SUV feels rather com­pact and seat­ing three peo­ple at the back is quite a squeeze. The boot on the Ecos­port can take in 352 litres and once the rear seats are folded, it can take in 1,187 litres. The Nexon in­side is quite unique as well. The dash houses an in­fo­tain­ment screen which beams all kinds of info in­clud­ing the feed from the re­vers­ing cam­era. Right be­low sits the knobs to op­er­ate the cli­mate con­trol sys­tem. They are based on a nice pi­ano black base which adds to the pre­mi­um­ness of the Nexon. There are plenty of stowage op­tions on the Nexon, the largest




be­ing the one on the cen­tre con­sole. Rear pas­sen­gers also get their very own air-con vent cou­pled to blower con­trols. The seats are comfy too and the view ahead is clear. How­ever the view at the back is not as good thanks to the fancy tail­gate which the Nexon gets. When it comes to space up front, things are rather com­fort­able. How­ever the same can­not be said for the rear. The door line cre­ates an is­sue while get­ting in and es­pe­cially which step­ping out. The boot can take in 350 litres of cargo which can be in­creased to 690 litres by fold­ing the rear seats down.

This is also the right plat­form to com­pare a very im­por­tant fac­tor about these two SUVs, that is the qual­ity. The plas­tics used in the Ecos­port is rather good. The dash and door pads look classy and they are built well too. The var­i­ous plugs and clips and head­liner, all look built to last. In the Nexon things are a bit dif­fer­ent. The plas­tic qual­ity is not as good as the one used by Ford. The var­i­ous clips and hang­ers look and feel odd and does not in­spire con­fi­dence. While Tata has truly specced up the Nexon to the prover­bial grille, the com­pany has to un­der­stand, act and sort out qual­ity is­sues on its cars.


When it comes to the power plant, Ford has ditched the 1.0-litre Ecoboost turbo petrol for a 3-cylin­der 1.5-litre petrol. Power out­put is rather healthy at 123bhp and torque is rated at 150Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 5-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion. The Nexon on the other hand gets a 1.2-litre tur­bocharged mo­tor which pumps out 110bhp and 170Nm of torque. The power is sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed man­ual.


We were pleas­antly sur­prised with the Ecos­port as it starts up rather smooth. The en­gine feels calm and com­posed and there

is very lit­tle noise creep­ing into the cabin at idle. The clutch feels light and the Ecos­port takes off with rel­a­tive ease. On the move the SUV has the ca­pa­bil­ity of cruis­ing ef­fort­lessly and NVH lev­els are just bril­liant. There is am­ple power on tap as well and the ‘Dragon’ en­gine does a splen­did job of keep­ing the driver en­ter­tained. Even while cruis­ing on the high­way, the need to shift down a gear is not felt. The Nexon also ben­e­fits from the multi-drive modes it gets. So in City mode, the en­gine feels re­stricted. But once in Sport, the Nexon’s change in at­ti­tude is clearly felt. Mov­ing

onto the fuel econ­omy bit. The Ecos­port of­fered us 11.3kmpl in city and 19.8 kmpl on the high­way. These are healthy num­bers and should work well in keep­ing run­ning costs down. The Nexon at start feels a bit coarse in com­par­i­son. There are vibes creep­ing into the cabin and one does feel them. But when it comes to ac­cel­er­a­tion, the Nexon does im­press. There is am­ple torque too and sud­denly one does not miss a diesel en­gine that much. The six-speed box is also pre­cise and easy to use. When it comes to the all im­por­tant fuel econ­omy bit, the Nexon re­turned 12.4kmpl in city and 18.1kmpl on high­way.


When it comes to ride and han­dling, the Ecos­port is the one which emerges bet­ter. It packs in proper Ford DNA and this means that it loves cor­ners. The SUV tack­les stuff with min­i­mal body roll and we are happy to re­port that ride qual­ity is not com­pro­mised. The steer­ing setup too is ex­cel­lent and of­fers am­ple feed­back. It is quick too. The Nexon rides well too. It ab­sorbs bumps with ease and keeps oc­cu­pants com­fort­able. But the sus­pen­sion is a bit noisy and can take the driver by sur­prise. The steer­ing setup is good but not as ma­ture as the one on the Ecos­port.


If we look at the cost fac­tor, the Nexon emerges as the cheaper to buy op­tion. The Ecos­port which we have is the Ti­ta­nium vari­ant and gets two airbags. But what we do ap­pre­ci­ate is that Ford has of­fered a Ti­ta­nium+ vari­ant which comes with a plethora of safety fea­tures. It is con­sid­er­ably more ex­pen­sive as well.

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101 to 102 Ford EcoS­port
1.5-litre, 3-cyl, 125bhp vs Tata Nexon
1.2-litre turbo, 3-cyl, 110bhp
Test No. 101 to 102 Ford EcoS­port 1.5-litre, 3-cyl, 125bhp vs Tata Nexon 1.2-litre turbo, 3-cyl, 110bhp

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