Most cars go through a process of design development from the exaggerated sketch on the drawing board to clay mock-up model to a much more watered down final production prototype. However, the EcoSport looks like it just went straight from being a futuristic sketch on the drawing board to its final form
Its design is unconventional, but not uncomfortable. It has urban chic written all over it, but it is certainly not metro-sexual. The best part though is that its design works, in an odd sort of way. It brings in a lot of freshness to the compact sports utility segment and it had better, after all, there is a lot riding on its tall shoulders.
To be fair, the EcoSport is an honest attempt at building a relevant urban SUV for the new-age automotive markets of the world like Brazil and India. But it also makes you wonder if it is deception on four wheels.
The Ford EcoSport is a smart looking vehicle and this updated model that we have over here is no different. There are hardly any changes to the outsides and the SUV continues to flaunt its muscular and aggressive front fascia. The alloy wheels remain unchanged on the Indian model and we would have appreciated if Ford could have provided a different design with this update. It is also good to see that the spare wheel is still mounted on the tail-gate unlike the overseas model. The fog lamps get integrated DRLs while the headlights get light guides which are basically thin strips of white light. The EcoSport now gets a new brown colour which looks pretty attractive. The boot opening button is moved underneath the chrome handle unlike the previous model.
The interiors are on the same page as those in the current Fiesta. The seats are comfortable and the red stitching on the black leather seats add a bit of premiumness to the EcoSport. The EcoSport comes well equipped with standard features like climate control; 16″ alloy wheels, steering-mounted controls, six airbags and of course SYNC multimedia system which makes the controlling of the the audio system, phone and other features very simple
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
There are three engines – the now-familiar 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol, a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 90bhp, and a 110bhp 1.5-litre petrol four. We’ve yet to test the naturally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol but have driven the other variants offered in the range.
Equipped with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost the Ford is hardly fast, taking 12.7sec to complete the 0-62mph benchmark, but it is smooth. The engine’s now-familiar three-pot note is prominent, but not intrusive, during acceleration – and at motorway speeds it remains audible. As in the Fiesta, it’s a likeable powerplant.
It was also 30 per cent more economical, according to our touring test, and quieter than the EcoSport both at idle and at 30mph. Gaps that size – to an undistinguished mid-class performer, remember – aren’t what we expect from Ford, and they aren’t what its customers are used to accepting, either.
The EcoSport’s 1.5-litre turbodiesel is rattly and coarse at idle, and it only gets noisier and less civil with revs. It responds to the accelerator reasonably well and is mated to a transmission that has a decent shift quality and a pleasant clutch, but it feels short on torque through the mid-range (because it is compared with most small diesels) and both harsh and asthmatic above 3000rpm.
At slower crank speeds and under a gentler throttle, the intrusion is tolerable, but even here there are vibrations through the seat and controls that you won’t find in most small crossovers. Consequently, despite some potential economy and CO2 benefits, it would be hard to recommend the diesel.
The EcoSport’s Goodyear Assurance tyres (a type with which we’re unfamiliar) and disc front/drum rear brakes don’t make for particularly good stopping power, either. There’s no reason why a 1300kg supermini shouldn’t stop from 70mph in less than 50 metres in the dry, or need more than 55 metres to stop from the same speed in our wet surface test.
The EcoSport missed both markers – not just because of a general lack of pure grip, but also because of an anti-lock braking set-up that lacked delicacy and sophistication.
Dynamics and Ford cars go hand in hand. The EcoSport boasts of excellent handling capabilities and it is actually a very fun car to drive around. The steering is very precise and it offers excellent feedback and feel. It is moderately weighed, neither too heavy nor too light while it also gains weight significantly as the vehicle’s speed increases. High speed stability is good on the EcoSport and it is fun around the corners but only upto a certain limit. You can never push an SUV as much as a sedan but the EcoSport does feel car-like to drive. There is some body roll too but not as much as other compact SUVs. It is somewhat comparable to what small cars have.
The ride quality on the Ford EcoSport is also very good and the suspension does an impressive job of ironing out all the potholes and craters that Indian roads have to offer. The SUV comes with MRF tyres which have satisfactory levels of grip if you don’t intend to push the vehicle very hard and the brakes also perform in a positive manner, making the vehicle shed speeds without any sort of unnecessary drama.
SAFETY AND FEATURES ;
To begin with, our press demonstrator was the Brown. The Mars Red colour might appeal to several, but I prefer the Kinetic Blue on the Ecosport. This in my opinion looks more upmarket and carries a hint of sophistication. The variant we drove was the Titanium Option. It comes with keyless entry, push start and stop, artificial leather, in-dash music system with Bluetooth, auxiliary and USB connection, reclining rear seats, 60:40 split, six airbags and ABS. In our long-term report, we share the fuel efficiency, performance and the pros and the niggles that we faced with the Ford Ecosport in our daily running.
It’s a long time since a new Ford was as bad as the EcoSport. It may not be a European-hailing car and it may be due an early revision to address its failings, but customers won’t care and neither should we.
Its perceived quality is regrettable, its diesel powertrain is rough and flat, and its chassis is so rudimentary that it could even damage Ford’s prized reputation for dynamic excellence.
Anyone who has test driven a rival or two will instantly be aware that the EcoSport just isn’t worthy. Neither is it cheap enough to be unworthy.
Ford’s repost will be that this has already proven a successful car for developing markets, but on tougher roads and catering to different tastes from ours
There have been plenty of great Fords like that over the years – from Mustangs to Broncos to Falcons – but none has cut the mustard in Europe. Neither will this.