Ford Ecosport vs Tata Nexon
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.
INSIDE THE SUVS
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
WHILE CHANGES TO THE EXTERIOR OF THE ECOSPORT ARE LIMITED, THE INTERIORS HAVE
BEEN GIVEN A MAJOR UPGRADE.
THE DASH IS ALL-NEW AND LOOKS GOOD
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.
UNDER THE BONNET
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.
ON THE MOVE
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.
RIDE AND HANDLING
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.