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2015 Ford EcoSport: The compact SUV on test

  • Dec 26, 2015
  • 4104 Views
“I want a big car, but it should shrink to a small car when I hit traffic. It also should not take much of my parking space and should be easy to park. And also, a good mileage is a must.” - These are words that Ford’s designer must have heard before going to the drawing board to make the first few lines that will take shape around Ford’s award winning compact platform known as B2E. Codenamed as B515 before christened as EcoSport, the car has been on sale in the Brazilian market since 2003. Seeing the potential of the EcoSport in the upcoming markets like India, Ford decided to develop the product further and the consequence was the second generation that came out as a concept at 2012 Auto Expo. EcoSport became a huge crowd puller and the same still shows in the sales data of the company. Since its launch in India in mid-2013 (read launch story), sale figures have been as consistent as Rahul Dravid’s scorecard.

[caption id="attachment_19077" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport Ford EcoSport[/caption]

Ford opened an all new segment in the Indian market and being a sub-4metre vehicle, Ford benefited from the Indian rules and gave a hard time to the Renault Duster - which can be seen as the closes rival of the EcoSport but Duster being bigger and with optional All-Wheel Drive option, we can’t really compare the two. Nonetheless, Ford tinkered around with the EcoSport, fed it few energy drinks and it now comes with more power, more torque, aggressive eyes, a new Golden Bronze color and chrome highlights (read facelift EcoSport launch story). We spend some time with the new EcoSport and here is what we think about the refreshed model.
Looks:

Now that we have seen so many EcoSport on road, this one feels no different. Yes, the Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) do come as a welcome change but they do not make a huge impact on the new EcoSport. It looks like the same guy, who went into salon, did nothing but wore new glasses and came out. Look closely and you will notice the new fog-lamp housing too. That’s about all the exterior changes the new EcoSport has received.

[caption id="attachment_19068" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport Ford EcoSport[/caption]

From the side, and rear, the EcoSport looks exactly the same except for the boot release button that has now been shifted under the handle rather be over it but that is so minor that you just can’t notice it until and unless you open the boot.

[caption id="attachment_19061" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport Rear Ford EcoSport Rear[/caption]

If only Ford took our feedback seriously they would have put bigger tyres on the EcoSport. The car still looks so under-tyred with the 16-inchers. For someone, who would want to announce their presence on the road, they will have to up-size the tyres as soon as they buy the car.

[caption id="attachment_19066" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport Side Ford EcoSport Side[/caption]

The alloys remain the same as the previous EcoSport. There are silver color roof rails that try to make the EcoSport a sportier, but not sporty enough to make it look apart on the road.
The EcoSport looks good, but fails to grab attention now. Ford will have to do something more radical than putting LED DRLs to catch the eyeballs.

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Interiors:

Off all the things that EcoSport is equipped with, space is not on the list. This is spacious for a sub 4-metre car but then, not as spacious as much as you want it. The EcoSport may look huge from outside, but as soon as you enter, you feel the walls have moved towards you. The new EcoSport also carries chrome on the parts that catch your often like the AC vents, door, window switches, driver cluster and few other places. The EcoSport seem to be grown up now. Hidden features include automatic wipers. Automatic headlamps were part of the brochure even with the previous EcoSport.

[caption id="attachment_19054" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport dashboard Ford EcoSport dashboard[/caption]

The seats are comfortable and the top-end model comes with perforated leather bucket seats. The seat will feel hard initially but is very comfortable during long hours of driving. There is only one arm-rest, and that too is not adjustable, the co-driver will have to either fight with the driver or will have to make peace with the fact that there is no arm-rest. Ford has also added auto-dimming rear-view mirror, making life easy for sure.

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The hand-brake position has also changed, which is now easier to engage than the previous model. One of the major changes is the position of the indicator stock. Earlier, it used to be on the left side of the steering, which does take time to get used to but with the new EcoSport, Ford has corrected the position according to the Right Hand Drive set-up. The steering though remains the same. It feels that it suffers a bit from malnutrition for a car of this size. There is a similar audio control set-up and voice command on the left side of the steering wheel.
One the driver front- the EcoSport is loaded heavily. The on-board computer will tell you about the instant mileage, average speed, average mileage and also has a speed alarm that can be customized according to the need.

[caption id="attachment_19053" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Driver Information Display Driver Information Display[/caption]

The A-Pillar is bit too thick for everyone’s liking. It becomes an obstruction and anything on the right hand side of the car becomes a big trouble while driving.
The best feature of the EcoSport is definitely the Sync multimedia system provided by Microsoft. It connects to your phone through Bluetooth and will read out your incoming texts. The phone can also be operated through voice commands. The music system is above average and you will love spending time inside the EcoSport if music moves your soul.

[caption id="attachment_19056" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport infotainment system Ford EcoSport infotainment system[/caption]

Rear seats are not very spacious for a SUV. If two people decide to sit together in the rear seat, they will be comfortable with ample space for feet and knees but one more adult will make you think where did all the space go suddenly? There is armrest on all the four doors with soft-padding and this really takes care of your right elbow during long journeys. For a sub 4 meter SUV, there is a lot of space for luggage too.

[caption id="attachment_19060" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport Rear Space Ford EcoSport Rear Space[/caption]

EcoSport is comfortable but it misses out on leg space. You would not want to buy it if more than four people travel at same time.
Performance:

The EcoSport comes fitted with the same engine options – a 1.5-litre Ti-VCT petrol engine with 112 PS of maximum power at 6300 rpm, a 1.0-litre award winning Ecoboost petrol engine that produces 125 PS at 6,000 rpm and the 1.5-litre diesel that gets an update. It now produces 9PS more power to return 100 PS of maximum power at 3,750 rpm. This is the version we drove extensively. Although outright acceleration is not exciting, there are noticeable improvements in the overall performance.

[caption id="attachment_19074" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport performance Ford EcoSport performance[/caption]

Even with 9PS of extra power, the EcoSport is not exciting to drive. The diesel unit lacks punch that is seen in the Aspire (using the same engine) and there is a hint of turbo lag as well. The engine works brilliantly at part throttle response but when you want to overtake slow moving traffic, it takes a while especially if you are driving with a full load of five on board.

[caption id="attachment_19070" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport performance Ford EcoSport performance[/caption]

The steering does not feel light at low speeds and remains heavy as speeds increase. That said, it has enough feedback and driving in city is not tiring at all. The suspension set-up remains unchanged and is aimed for better drive feeling than comfort. You do feel the bad road conditions to an extent but then you will love this car around corners. There is body roll but you would not hate it. The car is very planted on the road. You will like driving it but would not love it for the performance.

[caption id="attachment_19072" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport performance Ford EcoSport performance[/caption]

Icing on the cake is the fuel efficiency. Although the certified economy has gone down by a small margin we feel real world fuel economy is far better. For instance, at an indicated 100km/h on open roads, the display registered an average economy of over 23kmpl. Likewise, driving with a light right foot, the EcoSport delivered over 20kmpl during my city commutes to office and back!
Safety Net:

EcoSport now comes with 6 airbags on the top-end model. Well, there are no handles for the passengers now but airbags are more important, right? We thought so too. ABS and EBD are standard across all variants except the base version while the mid variants have dual airbags.

[caption id="attachment_19071" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Ford EcoSport safety Ford EcoSport safety[/caption]

The EcoSport except from the base variant carries all the necessary safety equipment that should be there in a car of this price.
What do we think?

Well, EcoSport can be an alternative to full-fill your dream of owning a big car. It has a high seating posture, ample ground clearance and that SUV-ish stance. The EcoSport offers everything a new car owner looks for from a compact SUV. It starts almost two lakh cheaper than the Renault Duster but then it has less space but almost the same feature list except the AWD function. If you are an avid commuter and are looking for something that will announce your presence and yet will keep you small enough for the cramped parking spaces, this is the one you should go for. Prices remain unchanged for the version line-up which makes this a sweet deal.

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