Ford have launched a new vari­ant of their re­cently launched EcoS­port com­pact SUV. This “S” vari­ant also marks the come­back of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost en­gine, among other changes. We get be­hind the wheel to see what it’s all about

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106Fo New top vari­ant with the re­turn­ing EcoBoost

It seems we’re liv­ing in a year of come­backs. Ryan Reynolds and Co have brought Dead­pool back to the big screen, Greta Van Fleet is bring­ing back that clas­sic Led-Zep sound, Net­flix is bring­ing back all those epic shows you loved as a kid (Fuller House any­one?) and my In­stafeed is pretty much full to burst­ing with #ThrowBack­Thurs­day posts — some­times even on other days of the week! Looks like Ford In­dia are get­ting in on the act, too, be­cause they’ve de­cided to launch a new vari­ant of their EcoS­port com­pact SUV and, as part of the pack­age, they’ve brought back that lit­tle 999-cc EcoBoost en­gine that nabbed so many awards when it was first in­tro­duced in the car’s pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion.

In fact, en­thu­si­asts up and down the coun­try had their col­lec­tive eye­brows raised when Ford took the cov­ers off the lat­est gen EcoS­port but chose to leave out the EcoBoost en­gine from the mix. Well, it’s here now, in what the brand has chris­tened the EcoS­port S, and it comes with a few other re­works, be­sides drop­ping in that pint-sized en­gine. Let’s start with the ex­te­rior. While the S doesn’t get a phys­i­cal change per se, it does get a few choice touches here and there. That grille is now all black, the 17-inch al­loys get the blacked-out look, too, and the head­lamps have been re­worked, with the fog-lamps get­ting a new black bevel. The roof and roof-rails have both also got a new lick of paint and are now, you guessed it, all black. There’s also a tell-tale change of tex­ture in the mid­dle of the roof (when viewed from afar) that hints at an­other fresh ad­di­tion — that of a sun­roof. Over­all, the al­ready hand­some EcoS­port has be­come that lit­tle bit eas­ier on the eye with these aes­thetic tweaks.

On the in­side, again, phys­i­cally every­thing is iden­ti­cal to the standard vari­ant of the car. How­ever, there are or­ange ac­cents along the dash to mark the car out as an “S” along with or­ange stitch­ing in the seats. The in­for­ma­tion clus­ter now of­fers an ad­di­tional read­out in the form of a tyre pres­sure sen­sor and, of course, there’s a new set of switches mounted up top that open and close the sun­roof. The sun­roof it­self isn’t the big­gest one you’ll see, but it does its job of invit­ing the out­side weather in with­out a fuss — as we found out to our cha­grin in the 40+ de­gree heat of Chen­nai. The in­tu­itive eight-inch touch­screen has been brought over to this vari­ant, too, and while it con­tin­ues to come with An­droid Auto, Ap­ple Car Play, Sync 3, voice com­mands, and two USB ports, it still doesn’t get in­built nav­i­ga­tion.

Me­chan­i­cally, there’s the big change of en­gine, with the 999-cc in-line three turbo-petrol en­ter­ing the fray. And it’s com­ing in all guns blazing as it pro­duces 125 PS at 6,000 rpm and 170 Nm of torque at 1,500-4,500 rpm. That’s two more horses and 20 New­ton me­tres of twist more than the standard 1.5 petrol avail­able on non-“S” vari­ants. An­other sig­nif­i­cant shake in the me­chan­ics is the ad­di­tion of a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion to go with the EcoBoost en­gine.

We put both of these ad­di­tions through their paces on this drive. Be­ing a turbo-petrol, the en­gine doesn’t re­ally get go­ing un­til you cross 2,000 rpm but keeps pulling till past 6,000 rpm with­out run­ning out of breath. NVH lev­els at these high revs are still de­cent and, when you aren’t push­ing, the cabin is a nice and peace­ful place to be in. The six-speed gear­box is pretty sorted, too. It of­fers smooth shifts and com­bines well with the en­gine to al­low the driver to cruise at de­cent triple-digit speeds with­out feel­ing like it’s strug­gling. The nee­dle crossed 160 km/h in sixth be­fore we ran out of road, so it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see how the EcoS­port S does when we get our hands on it for per­for­mance test­ing.

The ride was as sorted as in its standard sib­ling, glid­ing over pot­holes with­out com­pro­mis­ing on cor­ner­ing abil­ity. Han­dling was also de­cent when the oc­ca­sion arose. The steer­ing was com­mu­nica­tive enough as well and pre­cise at both low and high speeds. The brak­ing per­for­mance from the front-disc, rear-drum brake set-up was ad­e­quate when called upon, just like it is on the standard EcoS­port. Over­all, the EcoBoost pow­ered S was en­joy­able with­out be­ing ex­cit­ing and the new gear­box didn’t give any cause for com­plaints ei­ther. The S car­ries over the same fru­gal­ity of space is­sue as its sib­lings, though, so if you can look past that and are willing to match the rea­son­able Rs 11.37 lakh (exshow­room) price tag, then the EcoS­port S is def­i­nitely wor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion.

( Above) EcoBoost 1.0-litre turbo-petrol back in ac­tion ( Right) New six-speed man­ual, or­angeac­cented in­te­rior

( Right) Seats and doors also get the or­ange treat­ment ( Be­low) Sun­roof, or as Ford calls it, “Fun Roof”, is an­other fresh ad­di­tion

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