The Ford EcoSport in this updated avatar is just a few months old and in that time, it has been surfing all the right waves to keep the excitement levels high. But wanting to up the ante further, Ford has now introduced an EcoSport S as part of the range. There’s some visual upgrades inside and outside and under the hood besides two power plant options. The diesel is the familiar 1.5-litre TDCi unit while the other one is the 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine which finally makes a comeback for this iteration of the EcoSport. It’s this car that we have driven and here is our first drive review.
Changes to the face of this EcoSport S as compared to the standard car include a gloss black grille, blacked out fog lamp bezels and HID head lamps. The top has been trimmed out in full black while a sun roof (or fun roof as Ford calls it) has been added to this version. As a part of the S design package you also get these lovely looking diamond cut R17 alloy wheels and at the rear, a very sporty looking S badge. The large wheels in combination with forward leaning stance and blacked out elements on the fascia give the car an aggressive and angry look, something that really enhances the overall sporty feel of the car.
Since this is a top-of-the-line variant you get all the features available with the EcoSport and then some more. Standard stuff includes climate control, 8.0-display for the SYNC3 infotainment system and button start.
What’s new, however, is a large dose of Vitamin C that Ford has injected into the cabin. Orange seems to be the new popular shade among all manufacturers and it looks like Ford doesn’t want to be left behind. There’s orange stripes on the part leather-part fabric seats as well as orange accents for the centre console, door handles and AC vents. Lastly, in addition to the orange bonanza, it also has the instrument cluster from the export spec model, complete with a black and white TFT display. On the safety front, this vehicle comes with ABS with EBD, hill start assist, a traction control programme, six airbags and ISOFIX child seat mounting points.
While, the diesel is Ford’s familiar 1.5-litre four-cylinder motor, it’s the petrol engine that we are interested in as this is Ford’s award winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine. This is not a new engine but rather, it's making a comeback for this generation of the compact SUV. It’s a three-cylinder turbocharged motor and produces 123bhp@6000rpm and 170Nm@1500rpm and for the first time, it is being offered with a six-speed manual gearbox.
One of the main purposes of a low capacity turbocharged petrol engine is to offer even performance over a larger range and that is exactly what this EcoBoost motor does. It pulls linearly from as low as 1500rpm with a mild but noticeable boost at around 2000rpm. There’s a constant (and linear) build up to the 4000rpm mark after which the push starts to taper off. It’s not the most refined engine and you do feel the unbalanced thrum commonly associated with three-cylinder motors, but far lesser than before as Ford has upped the quality of NVH insulation.
Ford has managed to efficiently space out this power and torque with the six-speed gearbox that it has mated to this engine and this is visible in the fact that you can do 100kmph in sixth gear at as low as 2200rpm. This means pottering around at city speeds or lower won’t have you reaching for the gearbox constantly to keep the engine in the meat of its ability. That being said, the shifts themselves don’t feel slick and you do have to put in some extra effort to shift the cogs. Even the clutch feels unusually heavy for a small petrol powered vehicle.
Given the relative silkiness and flat nature of the East Coast Road outside Chennai, where we drove the car, the EcoSport S displayed great straight line stability and munched up the kilometres without losing a step. However, we did manage to find some rough patches to test out the ride quality. But on these ‘lesser travelled roads’ the ride quality was felt to be on the stiffer side. This, we felt, was due to the larger wheels and low profile tyres. This Edition S EcoSport runs a 205/70 R17 setup while the standard car gets a 205/60 R16 combo
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||123bhp @6000rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||170NM @1500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||52|
|Tyre size||205/50 R17|
|SYNC3 Infotainment system||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||123bhp @ 6000||108bhp @ 5,000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||170Nm @ 1,500||170Nm @ 1,750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||52||44|
|Tyre size||205/50 R17||215/60 R16|
Selling a product on USPs seems to be the mantra and in the case of the EcoSport, you could term this Edition S a full luxury cruiser sitting at the top of the food chain. It’s now extremely stylish, loaded with features worthy of car in this price bracket and now with this EcoBoost engine and six-speed combo, is quite good fun to drive. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that the cabin is not very spacious and is best suited for four occupants.
The petrol powered Ford EcoSport S has been priced at Rs 11.37 lakhs while diesel version is priced at Rs 11.89 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). At this price range, the EcoSport has moved well beyond its compact SUV rivals and now takes on specific variants of the C-segment sedans like the Honda City, Hyundai Verna. Then there are also the entry-level versions of the Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster as well as the Nissan Terrano.
Photography: Kapil Angane