Competition in the compact Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment seems to be intensifying with every passing month, with several companies bringing out new models for this category. Renault Duster is the leader in this segment of vehicles, but its days of domination could be numbered once the Ford EcoSport is launched in India.
From the outside, the Ford EcoSport appears more radically designed with the large front grille, while the Duster looks better proportioned overall. Though the appearance of the Duster is not as compelling as the EcoSport, it is designed in such a way so that it does not offend any buyer. On the other hand, the modernised headlamps and machine gun-style fog lamps create a massive on-road presence for the vehicle. While the EcoSport gets body coloured Outside Rear View Mirrors (ORVMs), the same appear silver-tipped on different variants of the Duster. In addition the ground clearance of the Duster, at 210 mm, is marginally better than 200 mm in the EcoSport. The EcoSport also has a water-wading capability of 550 mm, which is not present in the compact SUV from Renault.
On the engine front, both the EcoSport and the Duster get three variants. The Ford SUV would be available in 1.0 litre petrol, 1.5 litre petrol and 1.5 litre diesel. The 1.0 litre petrol EcoBoost engine produces a maximum power of 123 bhp. The 1.5 litre diesel and the 1.5 litre petrol engines produce power outputs of 89 bhp an 110 bhp, respectively. In comparison to these powertrains, the Duster comes with a 1.6 litre MPFI petrol engine and a 1.5 litre K9K diesel engine in two power variants. The petrol version produces a power of 102 bhp, while the oil burners generate 84 bhp and 108 bhp. The EcoSport clearly has the more efficient EcoBoost engine at its disposal, which also produces lower emissions than its competition. Apart from these, the EcoSport has an option of automatic transmission along with 5-speed manual, while the Duster only comes with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
In terms of features, an additional feature seen on the EcoSport is the Emergency Assist system, which allows one to make an emergency call to the operator, in case the vehicle gets involved in a road accident. The vehicle also comes with the advanced Sync system, which can configure the smartphone with itself, for making calls on the move. No such provisions have been provided in the Renault Duster.
If an individual wants to select a vehicle purely based on gadgets, then the EcoSport is the one for him. However, if he wants a whole-hearted SUV, which is more of an all-rounder, then Renault Duster should be the one for him. Top industry experts are expecting some fireworks in the Indian auto market, once Duster and EcoSport lock horns in a direct face off. Therefore, it is going to be interesting to see if the upcoming Ford model is able to dethrone Duster off its number position in the compact SUV segment, upon its launch.