Comfortable and sturdy

K Shivraj
Sunday, 7 January 2018

The new Ford EcoSport is not only equipped with more features but even its ride quality is good

In the wake of increasing competition, Ford has unveiled new EcoSport. Credited with kickstarting the sub-four metre compact SUV segment that has seen traction of late, the new model, in terms of appearance may not completely break away from the one it replaces; what it does is, improve where there is scope.

The front
The front thus has had its grille move up. It is bigger, bolder, and has the blue oval Ford logo at the centre. The headlamps have been equipped with projector beams and redesigned LED daytime running lamps. Changing in shape and size, the fog lamps contribute an amount of visual mass. They play a part in the vehicle looking fresh when viewed from the front.

An eight-inch touchscreen
Almost no change is apparent when the EcoSport is viewed from the side. The top-spec Titanium+ and Titanium get new, 17-inch alloys. The spare wheel continues to be mounted on the tail gate at the rear. The tail gate too continues to be side-hinged. Inside, the layout of the cabin brings about a sense of familiarity. The scheme is all-black. As spacious (or as lacking in space) as the one it replaces, the new EcoSport flaunts an eight-inch touchscreen with good resolution. It reproduces the colours quite nicely and takes the top-centre position. It is part of the revised centre console that houses two USB slots and air-conditioning controls.
The touchscreen is quite responsive and is equipped with Ford SYNC 3 that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The instrument console and the steering wheel have been revised. A full-sized, fixed arm rest with a cubby hole adds comfort to the driving. The rear seat too gets a folding arm rest with cup holders.

Not so spacious
With no change in the exterior dimensions or the wheelbase, the new EcoSport will make tall drivers feel like they could have some more space. Three well-built adults are likely to find it cramped at the rear. Boot space is a good 352 litres. Flip the second row down and it will grow to 1100 litres. The new 1.5-litre, three-cylinder, naturally aspirated petrol engine makes strides in refinement. Producing 123PS of power and 150Nm of torque, it could be had with a five-speed manual or a six-speed auto transmission. The auto transmission makes city driving easy as the engine responds well and does not feel gruff as a typical three-cylinder unit would. Shifts take place smoothly and seamlessly.

No change in diesel engine  
A segment first, the paddle shifters have a good feel to them. There is however a slight delay between the operation of the paddles and the transmission actually shifting gears. Claimed to do 17kmpl, the compact SUV, on an open stretch clocks good speeds. It has a good ability to drive easy in the city as well. The 100 PS, 1.5-litre diesel engine has not seen any changes. The clutch feels a bit heavy, but the five-speed transmission supports precise shifts. The engine feels refined and responds well.   

Improved ride quality
Changes to the suspension have improved the ride quality of the vehicle. Surface irregularities are soaked up better than the earlier model. If the 17-inch dia wheels contribute, they also play a role in handling. The new EcoSport handles better, displays good straight-line stability and tackles corners better. The steering does not feel as sharp as the earlier model, however, it has a more linear feel. This is especially the case when turning into corners. As communicative as the model before, the new EcoSport handles well. Priced upwards of Rs 10.67 lakh ex-showroom, the new EcoSport regains the lost ground. Considering the competition, it not only looks fresh, but has also gained in features and value. The auto transmission and new petrol engine will be liked by those looking for a comfortable and sturdier alternative to a car in the equivalent price bracket. The diesel version continues to offer the same advantages it did.

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